Can MOOCs Motivate Personal Change?

25 Jul

By James E. Ryan

As I wrote in part one of this blog, my colleagues from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and I have been gratified by the initial success of our first MOOC, entitled GSE1x: Unlocking the Immunity to Change: A New Approach to Personal Improvement.

Based on exciting initial evidence, this course suggests that online learning can support more than information transfer, technical training, and content learning. It can also support what might be thought of as “personal learning,” including lasting behavioral change.

This is an important finding, and one that is just as relevant to school districts as it is to private and public corporations. The reason is simple. Everyone has behaviors they would like to change, that they are in fact passionate about changing, but which they lack the tools to change. This course helps participants reach their improvement goals, which will make them better leaders—whether they are leading schools, school districts, a start-up, or a Fortune 500 company. The same is true for those who work within these organizations and institutions.

Indeed, there is mounting evidence that the behaviors we wish we could change are causing a massive drain not just on our personal well-being, but also on our overall productivity and the well-being of the organizations for which we work.

In the featured article of the April 2014 Harvard Business Review, entitled “Making Business Personal,” Bob Kegan and Lisa Lahey, the creators of the Immunity to Change course, along with two other colleagues, make the compelling case that people are spending an inordinate amount of time at work covering up what they perceive to be their failings, and less (or no) time working to improve them.

The question they pose is, “What if we channeled all the energy that is currently wasted on keeping up appearances into creating work environments in which identifying challenges and weaknesses was expected—a culture that acknowledged that adults can grow and change and gave people the tools to work on getting better?”

[ Full article available at Inside Higher Ed: ]

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Posted by on July 25, 2014 in MOOCs in the News, Op-Ed


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