MOOCs Emerge As Disruptors To Corporate Learning

10 Jun

By Jeanne Meister

Three years ago, Thomas Friedman, Op-Ed Columnist for the New York Times wrote the forward looking column Come The Revolution where he summed up the disruption of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) on higher education in this way: “Big breakthroughs happen when what is suddenly possible meets what is desperately necessary.” MOOCs offer not only free courses online, but also a system of testing, grading, peer-to-peer learning and certificates for completion that opens up higher education to the masses. Consider for a moment the cost of a four-year degree at a private university is over $45,000. My alma mater, the University of Connecticut, where I worked to put myself through college, is now priced over $26,000 for tuition and fees. Anant Agrawal, MIT computer science professor and the CEO of the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based non-profit, edX, sees the day when learners will enroll in a series of MOOCs for their early years and then attend a brick and mortar university for the last two years. This two plus two future of higher education will result in significant disruptions for both private, public, and for-profit universities.

But this is just the beginning of the revolution. Companies have discovered the power of the MOOCs as a new way to design and deliver online learning, where learners become peer reviewers, collaborate with each other, are highly engaged in watching short videos, participate in threaded discussion groups and some arrange local meetups to continue their learning. And for those learners who complete all the assignments, there is the ability to earn a certificate from a university and post this on their LinkedIn profile. The bar for corporate learning has been raised and the revolution there is now just beginning. Large organizations such as Microsoft, AT&T and Tenaris are piloting their own custom created MOOCs. Others such as Bank of America and Qualcomm are developing a strategy to curate publicly available MOOCs aligned to their core competencies.

Our company, Future Workplace, wanted to uncover how pervasive this revolution was in corporate learning. Our survey entitled Leveraging MOOCs and Open Learning Assets In The Workplace was fielded to 222 heads of Human Resources, Corporate Learning and Talent Management. We also conducted a number of interviews with senior HR leaders to understand the drivers behind creating a company MOOC, the benefits and barriers, and the long term impact of MOOCs on corporate learning.

Four findings emerged as a wake-up call for Chief Human Resource Officers, Chief Learning Officers as well as senior business leaders.

Finding #1: MOOCs offer companies an innovative online learning design for employees plus the ability to externally offer MOOCs to attract potential new hires and new customers.

[ Full article available at Forbes: ]

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Posted by on June 10, 2015 in Industry News, MOOCs in the News


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