MOOCs and the Corporate World

Technology is rapidly changing the landscape of education and learning. I’ve been a learning and performance professional for a little over 15 years. It’s amazing to think about all the ways teaching, learning, and education programs have evolved during that time, mostly powered by advancements in technology. Social media, mobile technology and more have shifted the expectations that individuals and organizations have as it applies to learning experiences.

MOOC by Mathieu Plourde

MOOC by Mathieu Plourde

One of the technology-based education approaches that has been getting a large amount of attention in recent years is the MOOC, or Massively Open Online Course. I’ve read a number of articles about MOOCs and many of them target the definition of the acronym itself, so that there is a clear definition of what IS and IS NOT qualified as a MOOC. I’m less interested in the definition and more interested in the different applications of the model.

It’s for this reason that I prefer The Educause Learning Initiative description of what a MOOC is:

A MOOC is a model of educational delivery that is, to varying degrees, massive, with theoretically no limit to enrollment; open, allowing anyone to participate, usually at no cost; online, with learning activities typically taking place over the web; and a course, structured around a set of learning goals in a defined area of study.

There’s a huge amount of attention being paid to MOOCs in the academic world. What I find even more interesting is the discussion of where MOOCs might fit in a corporate and organizational environment.

Some dismiss the idea of a Corporate MOOC based solely on the open aspect. The idea of corporate knowledge being shared with the population at large is seen as risk. In some rare cases that might be true, though I’m struggling to think of what corporate secrets are baked into the average leadership or communications course. But even if opening a corporate learning program to the public is off the table, that doesn’t mean MOOCs need to be off the table for you. Maybe the Open part of the MOOC means “open to all employees”, or some other adaption of the assumed MOOC model.

It’s that adaption that makes me interested in the idea of a Corporate or Organizational MOOC. We’ve already seen the MOOC adapted for smaller groups in local areas via the SPOC (Small Private Online Course) model. I think there will be further adaptions as more organizations take the bones of the MOOC model and apply them to unique contexts. As someone that has spent most of his career in corporate and organizational environments, I’m looking forward to seeing how can organizations take the generic definition of a MOOC shared above and tweak it so that it fits into and enhances an organization’s learning and performance ecosystem.

CaptureOne of the interesting resources I’m looking forward to is taking the META approach to exploring the potential of Corporate MOOCs. I recently registered for Intrepid Learning’s MOOC on Corporate MOOCs. It runs for three weeks starting on June 9th. Hopefully I’ll see you there to join the conversation and explore the potential of MOOCs in a corporate environment.

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6 Responses to MOOCs and the Corporate World

  1. tanyalau May 30, 2014 at 9:10 am #

    Hi Dave, I’ve taken a couple of MOOCs too – and have also recently been reflecting on the MOOC experience, and how it might be applied to a corporate environment. I actually think an oft-overlooked aspect of MOOCs is that self directed learning is critical to the experience: by this I mean that enrollment, level of participation and engagement is entirely self directed, and voluntary. This, combined with the ‘open’ aspect, means that you tend to get (especially in the smaller ‘c’Moocs) a cohort of people who are all really internally driven to learn, improve & reflect which, if it’s supported by the design, and learning tasks, can make for some really fascinating discussions…and subsequently, the formation of sustained PLN relationship. so perhaps in a corporate setting, MOOCs could play this role – of not just being another course offering that employees can take if /when fhey want, to something which can also help people to build their internal network (…and break silos!?) across the organisation…just some thoughts.

    • LnDDave June 2, 2014 at 12:18 am #

      Great points. I don’t think there’s a single answer to the MOOC question. That’s why I;m looking forward to the MOOC on Corporate MOOCs – to explore what’s possible depending upon the context.

  2. JD Dillon May 30, 2014 at 5:36 pm #

    I’ll see you in Intrepid’s MOOC! I see this concept as a viable instructional option for both internal corporate employees and the outside world. How many of us are building content right now on the same generic skills (ex: time management). While there is always generic content to buy off the shelf, individual organizations may have unique approaches that would benefit others if presented in an open format. Beyond that, open courses can build an organization’s reputation with partners and customers and become a potential revenue source. Imagine that … L&D as a profit center … CRAZY!

    • LnDDave June 2, 2014 at 12:17 am #

      Interesting idea JD – I hadn’t considered that. It’s another wrinkle in the MOOC puzzle.


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