This week the MOOC on Corporate MOOCs from Intrepid Learning is kicking off. I’m really looking forward to participating in the MOOC, from two separate perspectives: that of a learner, and that of a learning professional. In this post I share some of the things I’m doing to prepare for the MOOC so that I can get more out of it.
The Learner Perspective
I walk into this MOOC primarily as a learner. I am interested in learning about the content being shared, and learning about how MOOCs can be applied in a corporate environment. I’m also interested in learning more about the experience of participating in a MOOC as a learner. Here are a few things I’m doing to get more out of this learning experience.
Starting with the Intention to Finish
A recurring criticism of MOOCs is the extremely low completion rates associated with the courses. I’ve experienced that gap myself. I’ve registered for at least 6-10 MOOCs in my life, and I have yet to complete one. It begs the question: Why? I think the low completion rates come down to two simple words: Importance and Urgency.
When I see a MOOC on an interesting topic, I register for it pretty quickly. After all, I’m a passionate learner, I’m interested in the topic, and it’s free. So why the low completion rate? It’s simple: Life can easily get in the way.
For an open educational MOOC, there’s rarely external factors that are pushing me to complete the MOOC, yet there are a number of external factors keeping me from allocating time to diving in. If I’m participating in the MOOC, I’m not doing something else. I, like many others, find it challenging to focus on the MOOC when confronted with the urgency of life and work issues that have more accountability attached to them.
That’s one of the things I’m looking forward to exploring in this MOOC. One of the critical differences between a Corporate MOOC and a traditional MOOC is accountability. When was the last time you decided not to complete an elearning course that was assigned to you? There’s built-in accountability (and urgency) attached to a learning experience that is connected to your job.
Keep in mind, I’m not positioning a Corporate MOOC as a forced experience that makes learners prisoners. I’m simply pointing out that there are naturally higher levels of accountability attached to learning experiences that are part of our work. For example, understanding how MOOCs can be used as part of an organizational learning strategy has a tremendous amount of relevance in the work I currently do. There’s an urgency in my taking full advantage of this learning opportunity. It will be interesting to see how this upgraded relevance and personal accountability – factors that I can see applying to most Corporate MOOCs – will affect my experience as a learner.
Expanding My Personal Learning Network
I place incredible importance on my personal learning network. I learn more from the informal conversations with the professionals I am connected to than from any other source. However, that network doesn’t just happen on its own. There are very intentional actions I take to cultivate my network and help it grow.
I see plenty of links between MOOCs and personal learning networks. I can go through a MOOC and passively watch videos, read articles, and consume other types of content. While I would learn from that experience, I would be doing so with tremendous weight holding back my learning. It’s through the social interactions with others that I contextualize content and find ways to apply the information in ways that solve problems. It’s the participation in the social community of a learning experience – like what you’ll find in a MOOC – that helps me take generic information and apply it to specific contexts. It makes the learning much more real for me.
More importantly, the connections made in a MOOC can often form the foundations of relationships that enhance my personal learning networks. These relationships become an ongoing source of learning and growth long after the term of the MOOC has expired.
The Learning Professional Perspective
I’m also viewing my experience in the MOOC on Corporate MOOCs through the lens of my role as a learning and performance professional. I’m always looking for new ways to help people learn and do their jobs better, so I’ll be wearing that hat as I go through the MOOC.
Looking at the Platform
Any time I go through a learning experience, I’m always looking at its design, trying to deconstruct what the designers were thinking, and what factors were taken into account when the learning environment was built. As I go through the MOOC, I’ll be looking at the platform itself, and seeing how it supports learning. I’ll be looking at how the platform works in different environments (will the learners be using desktops, tablets, smartphones, or some combination of devices?). I’ll also be looking at what types of content can be included in the MOOC and how learners can interact with the experience.
Focusing on the Community
Learning is a naturally social experience. As such, I’ll be looking at the MOOC and examining how social learning is supported. This includes both the technology and the culture. How does the technology enhance and encourage sharing? Are there any technological barriers that hinder interacting with others? Moving past the technology, I’ll also look at the flow of the social interactions. How are people responding to the content? Are they expanding upon the content and contextualizing it via their interactions? Are there moderators present that are stepping in to encourage discussion when needed (and stepping away when moderation is unnecessary)? Considering how much learning is built upon social interactions between learners, I’ll be looking at how the social experience is shaped during the MOOC.
An Expanded Use of Curation
I’m a big believer in curation, and how it is a critical competency for learning professionals in the future. One of the gaps I’ve seen in the curation discussion is identifying where curation takes place. Identifying resources that have value is one thing; deciding on where those resources should be shared and the workflow in which the curation should take place is something else entirely. I’m looking forward to seeing how the MOOC format can be used to take curation from concept to implementation.
Examining Where MOOCs Fit
We have a habit of looking for a “silver bullet” as learning professionals. Learning doesn’t work that way. I don’t see any one learning platform or methodology as being “better” than any other; it’s a case of finding out which platform or methodology best matches the learning and performance need we are trying to address.
That’s one of the topics I’m really looking forward to taking away from the MOOC on Corporate MOOCs: understanding where the MOOC format fits into the existing ecosystem of resources we have at our disposal.
What are Your Goals?
I think one of the gaps people have for personal learning is taking time to identify WHY they want to learn about something. It might sound like simple concept. After all, you’re either interested in something or you’re not.
For me though, I get more out of a learning experience when I dig deeper. When I go past the “Am I interested in the topic?” question and start asking “Why?”, I’m already starting to learn. I’m building context on the topic and building a framework that will help me get more out of the experience. The process of writing this blog post is a great example. I’ve now gone through the thought process of identifying why I want to learn about Corporate MOOCs. I’ve documented those thoughts in this post, and can now reference it as I go through the MOOC experience. I’m now prepared to get much more out of the experience.
So, what are YOUR goals for the MOOC on Corporate MOOCs? Join the conversation and let’s explore this topic together.