Afiniti Insights

MOOCS – the Future of Social Learning?

A 2014 Future Workplaces survey found 70 per cent of HR professionals planned to integrate MOOCs into their learning programmes.

We now want information at our fingertips, on the go and catered to our busy schedules; so could MOOCs, a new form of social learning with a low delivery cost and high accessibility, be the answer?

Admittedly business has been slower than education to adopt MOOCs but we’re seeing them grow in popularity.

For example, if you use SAP globally then you may opt for Open Sap which helps learners adopt SAP through gamification and connecting learners with each other and SAP experts. Elsewhere, Google is training huge amounts of digital specialists with its online education courses. And MOOCs lead to real business results: McAfee saw large increases in sales after it put its employees through a MOOC on training for new employees.

What are MOOCs? 

Short for Massive Open Online Course, a MOOC has the capability to enrol large amounts of delegates, thousands even, onto a course and they are open online to anyone. It is essentially a semi-synchronous online classroom where the materials and assignments are posted on a general forum where you can learn at your own pace.

At the end of each week, next weeks’ materials and assignments are made available online. The trainer and fellow learners are available throughout the course to liaise with through forum-like discussions which also acts as a great platform to pose any questions and receive extra help.

What can MOOCs do for the corporate world?

Access and flexibility

MOOCs provide the flexibility needed in a fast paced environment as, let’s face it, many of us find it difficult to carve out a few hours in our work day for professional development.

Setting up a MOOC gives all employees access at any point in the day so they can work to their own schedules.

On a global scale, they provide consistency and accessibility to employees around the world and appeal to the masses. For example, they can be used to instil a particular process or accreditation globally.

Minimising costs and disruption

They involve minimal ongoing teaching expenses and cost the same to run no matter how many employees enrol. External courses may however charge but can still represent a more cost effective solution than classroom training as at the very least you are saving time and money on travel and potential accommodation.

Innovation and continuous improvement

The interactive element of MOOCs which connects people and drives conversation allows employees around the globe to share advice and ideas – it’s the two way communication between colleagues that can build skills and knowledge effectively.

Tracking and measurement

Progress can also be tracked in real time by the employer which is extremely valuable data and can be used for course improvements in identifying the sticking points for people in particular modules.

As with all learning MOOCs must be linked to strategic business objectives, but if well-chosen can have a very positive effect on the skills of a workforce and the market competitiveness of a business.

MOOCs are a step closer to giving the employee control of their own training in regards to where and when they learn. As corporations continue to globalise, social learning needs to follow suit and MOOCs are the easy choice when it comes to providing accessibility, consistency and flexibility for both the employer and the learner.

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