Over the past several months, I’ve written about the many advantages of using MOOCs in training programs and given suggestions for how L&D departments can most effectively incorporate this new training format. In this article, we’ll look at some of the MOOCs that have been developed specifically for training purposes and business audiences, as well as how some companies are already using these courses are part of their workplace training and development programs.
MOOCs for Business and Training
Some enterprising startups have recently developed training MOOCs. For now, these are mostly in the technology fields, but the scope is rapidly expanding. In addition, the major MOOC providers now offer a variety of MOOCs targeted toward a business audience.
- Aquent Gymnasium. Aquent, a staffing agency for the marketing and creative industries, recently launched Aquent Gymnasium, a MOOC provider that offers technology courses for creative professionals. The first course, “Coding for Designers,” is a basic programming course for professional designers to help them work more effectively with software developers. The next two courses that will be offered focus on technologies for Web design.
- The Muse. Job search site The Muse has expanded into MOOCs. Though the target audience is job seekers, the available courses focus on soft skills that could be used for training, such as “Becoming a Networking Master” and “Management 101.”
- openSAP. Business management software company SAP offers several MOOCs for developers including “Introduction to Software Development on SAP HANA,” “Introduction to Mobile Solutions Development,” and “In-Memory Data Management.”
- MongoDB. Database company MongoDB offers training MOOCs on its database products.
- Open Education Alliance. Open Education Alliance is a recently announced collaboration between MOOC provider Udacity and companies including Google, Autodesk, AT&T, and NVidia. The participant companies have each pledged $250,000 toward developing MOOCs to bridge the gap between what students learn in traditional universities and the skills employers are seeking. The alliance is also working on an alternative credentialing system for the free online courses.
- Academic MOOCs. As part of their ongoing quest for a viable business model, Coursera and edX are also making plays for the business market. This fall, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania put its first-year MBA courses on Coursera. All of the courses are eligible for verified certificates through the Signature Track program. MIT also recently announced a plan to develop an XSeries on supply chain management on the edX platform. Students who complete all three courses will earn a verified certificate from MITx. Finally, Stanford’s NovoED platform hosts a variety of entrepreneurship MOOCs including courses on leadership, finance, and decision making. The Stanford Graduate School of Business launched its first MOOC, “The Finance of Retirement and Pensions,” on the platform this fall.
Examples of How Companies Are Using MOOCs
It is difficult to know exactly how many organizations are already using MOOCs and MOOC elements in their training and development programs, but we can point to a few high-profile examples.
- McAfee. According to a Forbes report, computer security company McAfee recently used a MOOC model to solve one of its major training problems: its new-hire orientation process used to take more than 80 hours, and many employees were not completing the process. To tackle this problem, McAfee “flipped the classroom,” so that students access the content on their own time and use in-class time for discussions and activities. McAfee told Forbes that the change resulted in both decreased training time and increased sales.
- Yahoo! Yahoo! sponsors its employees to earn verified certificates through Coursera’s Signature Track program. According to Patricia Brogan, the manager of Yahoo!’s Developer Academy, the company partnered with Coursera as a way to encourage employees to continue to develop their technical skills so that they can apply them toward designing and creating innovative new products.
- JLT Group. Insurance company JLT has been using MOOCs as part of its employee training and development at several levels. According to an interview with training manager Sunder Ramachandran, the initiative is aimed at addressing the training needs of a diverse, young, and changing workforce. So far, JLT employees have participated in Coursera’s “Introduction to Public Speaking,” “Intro to Operations Management,” and a couple of introductory finance courses. According to Ramachandran, JLT has achieved “moderate success” with the program and is experimenting with using MOOCs in conjunction with small in-person study groups.
Using MOOCs in corporate and workforce education has benefits on all sides. For MOOC providers, training courses are a possible source of revenue, while for organizations they represent a way to deliver more effective training more quickly and at a reduced cost. With large company-funded initiatives like the Open Education Alliance, we can expect to see more MOOCs developed specifically for training purposes in the near future. And as organizations continue to look for new ways to improve their L&D programs, we will no doubt see more businesses choosing the MOOC model. For companies looking for new ways to deliver training, engage employees more meaningfully in the learning process, or offer more flexible and accessible training solutions, now is a great time to consider trying a MOOC.