7 Things Training Professionals Can Learn From MOOCs
The education sector is pretty excited about MOOCs; they get to offer learning to people who don’t have the money or the time for traditional college. The corporate and professional world has been slower to catch on, but it’s starting: 7% of professional training organizations and associations are using open online courses, and 5% of organizations are planning to implement them in the next year.
More training professionals need to jump on board, and they might if they knew how easily MOOCs could be designed and how effective they truly are. Here are just a few ways MOOCs can be made into today’s premium training platforms, with ease and effectiveness.
- Course design: Flipping content.
Difficult material often requires specific guidance and someone to actually teach the participants; basic knowledge can be taught with a static textbook. Flipping is a learning strategy that separates basic theory from active learning and more advanced applications. Preparatory/foundational content is made available and studied outside the classroom, and more advanced subjects are taught during interactive training sessions. That means teachers spend more time teaching the things they’re necessary for, and less time covering the assigned reading. Currently, 5% of training organizations and professional associations in the US have already adopted a flipping strategy and another 10% plan to adopt it in the coming months. The increased focus on active learning and more advanced material means members -most of whom have a professional background that depends on their basic understanding of the subject at hand- are far more engaged, challenged, and involved with the subject matter. Proper flipping makes sure everyone is on the same page and no one gets neglected, but no one drops out due to boredom, either.
- Curation is faster than creation.
There is so much information available across so many different pre-made MOOCs that almost any training company can find relevant courses prepared and ready to go. As an added benefit, many MOOCs have are taught by well-known and highly regarded teachers, which can help attract and engage members/learners. The most specialized professional content might still be missing from today’s available MOOCs, and that’s where the training companies can add their expertise.
- Providing an online community.
MOOCs are designed to allow users to learn by themselves. They focus on scalability, sophisticated peer evaluation, and create an engaging and interesting learning experience. Yet despite their individual adaptations, one of the most striking features of a MOOC is their ability to allow smooth collaboration between students. Discussion forums, in-course comments, and other interactions shape whole communities can easily replicate these features into their learning products. This adds a whole new incentive to get members involved in higher learning. In addition, participants often learn as much from each other as they do from the facilitators in higher-level MOOCs. This is a direct consequence of the social nature of MOOCs and the fact that their user base is as large as it is, and gives professionals a chance to connect and contribute. When the course is finished, the community still continues to exist, benefitting all involved in the network and the training organization that helped the network happen.
- Massive size, low cost.
Your training companies might want to target tens of thousands of learners around the world. Obviously they’re not all going to be taking the same course at the same time, but you need to be ready to facilitate things for all the learners who are interested. This usually means spreading sessions out across multiple weeks to fit people’s schedules, and with traditional classes this can push your costs through the roof -only so many people fit in a room, and only so many questions an instructor can address. MOOCs solve the problem of scheduled courses and scaling costs by virtually eliminating them- they allow you to offer affordable courses to as many professionals as possible, whenever those professionals are able to do the work.
Since MOOCs enable online access anywhere and at any time, they’re about as flexible as it gets for learners. Even better, the content itself is flexible and can be repurposed to fit other courses. Have a course that requires the same basic knowledge as a different one? No need to have a second trainer teach the subject all over again. While focusing around a single profession or activity, mixing, and matching your basic courses to pave the way for more specialized advanced courses can increase efficiency and cost-effectiveness for all your education efforts.
- Course optimization.
Instructors can get to know their material too well, and they can lose focus of the details their students really need. MOOCs require presenters to review their courses and make them as efficient and clear as possible, and give them the objectivity to do just that. Online interactivity also allows your learners to speak up and ask questions as needed, which provides further direct feedback. Current MOOC providers are highly selective in what they offer, meaning if you go with courses that are pre-produced you’re likely to get exactly what your learners need.
- Near-universal availability.
If you have an internet connection, you have access to MOOCs. Everyone can easily get a taste of a certain course, and anyone can choose to enroll with ease. The MOOCs offered by edX mostly cover the fundamentals, serving as a teaser to see if the course, the subject area, and the format are the right fit. MOOC previews let your members try some advanced learning on rather than simply reading a course description before forking over their hard-earned cash, and also serve as a powerful marketing tool for your training organization.
The MOOC success story is still unfolding, but the trend is clear. Adoption by training companies and corporations is slowly picking up and already showing some clear benefits. Though the importance of classroom based learning can’t be ignored as it does add important structure to a course, MOOCS offer an alternative that is even more viable for many of today’s learners. Training professionals can learn a lot -and teach even more- by making MOOC adoption a priority for them and their customers.