Reinventing the MOOC model for the real world

14 Oct

By Matthew T. Grant

In his article “Will MOOCs help you open career doors?” Scott Kirsner reveals that, while employers may be impressed by the initiative that completing a MOOC signifies, they are more interested in seeing what can be accomplished with one’s newly-won knowledge. In other words, it’s not about certificates of completion in the real world, it’s about completed pieces in a portfolio.

Working as I do for a staffing firm, I couldn’t agree more. In fact, when we launched our own MOOC program, we made employability a top objective. Here’s how the MOOC model can be modified to meet both the needs of the students and those of the companies they would like to work for.

Employer Input in Curriculum Development
Recently it was reported that Google, AT&T and others were teaming up with Udacity to “develop standards for career readiness” in the latter’s course offerings. The goal of this initiative is to ensure that the courses offered on the MOOC platform are aligned with the actual needs of the companies who may be interested in hiring MOOC students. If MOOCs are going to open career doors, letting employers tell you what courses you should teach is key.

Keep It Practical
While MOOCs have grabbed headlines for giving people from all over the world access to Ivy League institutions, Kirsner himself quotes the head of a local agency as saying education is “less than 10 percent” of what they look at in the hiring process. For this reason, we believe that the curriculum needs to have a practical focus. This means that by the end of the course, students should be able to do something they couldn’t do at the outset. This practical focus is best supported when you engage real world practitioners to develop and teach the courses. For example, our recent “Coding for Designers” MOOC was led by Jim Webb, former Design Lead at National Geographic.

[ Full article available at ]

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Posted by on October 14, 2013 in MOOCs in the News, Op-Ed


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