The first week of Intrepid Learning’s MOOC on Corporate MOOCs is now complete. This post reflects on my experience in the MOOC, looking at my expereince from two separate angles: That of a learner and that as a learning and performance professional. I will start by commenting on the content of the MOOC, and then reflect on the way the learning experience was constructed.
What Did We Learn?
Week one of the MOOC on Corporate MOOCs was extremely interesting. It met the expectations I had for the first week in that it set a string foundation upon which the remaining two weeks can build upon. Week one consisted of six different modules. The first two modules introduced us to the course and the structure of the MOOC. They also gave us context of who was participating in the MOOC – a community of over 1,400 individuals worldwide.
The remaining four modules provided foundational knowledge and began building the context of how MOOCs might be applied in a corporate learning environment. We started with identifying what a MOOC is, which was important to give a shared understanding among the participants. From there we looked at how learners have changed, the greater understanding we have about learning in general, and why those factors make the MOOC format a valuable tool for learning.
The week ended with my two favorite modules of the week. MOOCs have a lot of buzz right now. I’ve never been a fan of buzzwords. I define buzzwords as “a word whose usage spreads faster than the understanding of it’s meaning”. I would put MOOCs in this category, so I was happy to see a module exploring fact versus hype. The week closed with one of my favorite methods of learning: examples of practice. There were numerous examples of MOOCs being used in a corporate context shared. I enjoyed exploring the various resources, and seeing how companies like SAP, Google, AT&T, McAfee and more were adapting the MOOC format for their corporate needs. Those examples made the idea of a corporate MOOC much more tangible. It was a great way to close the first week.
The MOOC Experience
Any time I look at using a new technology to support learning and performance, one of the first questions I explore is “Does the technology create barriers to learning?”. I don’t care how great your content is. If the content is behind a poor user interface, the overall experience will at least suffer, and at most completely fail. The best systems are those that have a very low entry point – something that would require minimal support for new users to understand and operate. It’s through this lens that I looked at the MOOC on Corporate MOOCs during week one.
I was extremely pleased by the experience in this context. I mentioned that the first two modules of the week introduced the course, structure, and community of the MOOC. These were helpful, but not required from a technical “how to use the MOOC” standpoint. The interface of the MOOC is very simple and intuitive. Once you are logged into the system, you are presented with a primary dashboard called The Learning Hub from which you can easily navigate your learning experience.
I should also point out another subtle but important aspect of the first two modules of this week. They did prepare me for the experience I was about to engage in,and while it did provide technical “how to” information, that was not the driver of the modules. The “how to” messages were embedded into a deeper intro that provided context into the journey I was about to embark on. These introductory modules painted the picture of what the course is all about, and built a framework for what was to come. There were a lot of good ideas in those modules that are easily transferable to any new system introduction; the context is what makes learners care about the system.
The ease in which the system can be used also contributed to a critical component of the MOOC experience: participant interaction. There were numerous opportunities for participants to engage with each other in week one, including both structured questions and completely open forums through which individuals could expand upon and contextualize the content. The easier it is for people to post discussion items, the more likely it is that they will. The MOOC on Corporate MOOCs succeeded in this regard.
The user experience was also enhanced by a nice blend between structure and freedom as it applies to the content. While there was a prescribed “path” to the week’s content, there were also plenty of opportunities for learners to dig deeper and explore certain areas on their own. I look forward to examining the formal / informal blend of the course during week two.
One Week Down, Two to Go
I greatly enjoyed the first week of the MOOC on Corporate MOOCs. I’m looking forward to week two as we explore what makes a successful MOOC, both from the perspective of a learner, and of an organization. We’ll also be starting to take a strategic slant on the discussion, exploring how to decide is a MOOC is the right fit for your organizational learning need.
Until next week, I’ll see you on the discussion boards.