For the past few months, I’ve written about the many benefits of using MOOCs in training programs and offered suggestions on how L&D departments can most effectively incorporate this new training format. In this article, we look at some of the MOOCs that have been developed specifically for training purposes and business audiences, and how some companies are already using these courses as part of their corporate training and development programs.
MOOCs for business and training
Some entrepreneurial startups have recently developed training MOOCs. Currently, these are mainly located in the technology areas, but the scope of application is expanding rapidly. In addition, the major MOOC providers now offer a variety of MOOCs aimed at a business audience.
- Aquent High School. Aquent, a recruitment agency serving the marketing and creative industries, recently launched Aquent High School, a MOOC provider offering technology courses for creative professionals. The first course, Programming for Designers, is a foundational programming course for professional designers to help them work more effectively with software developers. The next two courses that are offered focus on technologies for web design.
- The muse. Job search site The Muse has evolved into MOOCs. Although the target audience is job seekers, the courses available focus on soft skills that could be used for training such as Becoming a Networking Master and Management 101.
- openSAP. Enterprise software company SAP offers several MOOCs for developers, including Introduction to Software Development on SAP HANA, Introduction to Mobile Solution 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 such as Google, Autodesk, AT&T and NVidia. The participating companies have each pledged $250,000 to develop MOOCs to bridge the gap between what students learn at traditional universities and the skills employers are looking for. Allianz is also working on an alternative authorization system for the free online courses.
- Academic MOOCs. As part of their ongoing search for a viable business model, Coursera and edX also make games for the business market. This fall, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School offered its first-year MBA courses on Coursera. All courses are eligible for verified certificates through the Signature Track program. MIT also recently announced a plan to develop an XSeries for supply chain management on the edX platform. Students who complete all three courses will receive 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 use MOOCs
It’s difficult to say exactly how many organizations are already using MOOCs and MOOC elements in their training and development programs, but we can point to some high-profile examples.
- McAfee. according to a forbes Computer security company McAfee reportedly recently used a MOOC model to solve one of its biggest training problems: The new hire orientation process used to take more than 80 hours, and many employees didn’t complete the process. To address this problem, McAfee flipped the classroom so students could access the content in their free time and use class time for discussions and activities. McAfee tells forbes that the change resulted in both reduced training time and increased sales.
- Yahoo! Yahoo! sponsors its employees to earn verified certificates through Coursera’s Signature Track program. According to Patricia Brogan, manager of Yahoo!’s Developer Academy, the company has partnered with Coursera to encourage employees to develop their technical skills so they can apply them to designing and building innovative new products.
- JLT group. Insurance company JLT uses MOOCs as part of their multi-level employee training and development. According to an interview with Head of Training Sunder Ramachandran, the initiative aims to meet the training needs of a diverse, young and changing workforce. To date, JLT staff have taken Coursera’s Introductory Public Speaking, Introductory Operations Management, and some introductory finance courses. According to Ramachandran, JLT has had “moderate success” with the program and is experimenting with using MOOCs in conjunction with small in-person study groups.
The use of MOOCs in in-company and in-company further training has advantages on all sides. For MOOC providers, training is a potential revenue stream, while for organizations it is a way to deliver more effective training faster and at a lower cost. With large corporate-funded initiatives such as the Open Education Alliance, we can expect more MOOCs to be developed specifically for educational 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 companies adopt the MOOC model. For companies looking for new ways to deliver training, to engage employees in the learning process in a more meaningful way, or to offer more flexible and accessible training solutions, now is a good time to try a MOOC.