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Reinventing corporate learning with online courses

04.19.2013
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Just as management schools got “disrupted” by a shift to more focused organizational training, so too should organizations be on the look-out to be “disrupted” by Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

In my last post I suggested that MOOCs will play a growing role in organizational professional development in the next two years. The writing is on the wall – MOOCs are less expensive, simpler, open, and full of incredible content (fortunately the movement got a kick start by some of the brightest and best). So what can companies that thrive off organizational learning do to keep up?

Key ingredients

You need a few key elements to make effective use of MOOCs in an organized setting that lead to self-guided development in competencies that are important to your organization’s work:

  • Enterprise Social Network (ESN) – whether it’s Yammer, Jive, Connections, whatever.. you need something that will foster discussion, enable easy linking inside and outside of the organization (e.g. a tweet that cross-posts in Yammer and Twitter), and house some files, videos, etc.
  • Human Resource Management (HRM) - I’m going to bet my money on Workday figuring this out first (or more likely, buying some small firm that does), but you need a HRM system to help track courses that folks are taking and align them to evaluation systems
  • Executive Sponsorship – while there’s a good bet that the majority of courses will be taken by more junior staff, you’ll need some very senior staff who are willing to take the plunge too, and more importantly, join in the discussion with the rest of the participants. This is where the ESN can be so critical, especially if you pair it with other live (webinar) discussions on the topics

How it could work

  1. Pick a topic that has a strong appeal to early adopters: the course I’m taking, run by Coursera, is called Leading Strategic Innovation in Organizations. Pair “strategy” and “innovation” and you’ll get a lot of looks.
  2. Identify people through the channels you’ll want to use for discussion. Since the ESN is an important discussion tool for the course in the organization, start with a post in your ESN to gauge interest and post a link to the course with a clear statement of purpose.
  3. Send a quick note to managers discussing the course as part of org’s PD pilot (or something to that extent) so that participants can feel good about being in a self-directed program that has links to the program but is run through a third party.
  4. Split participants into groups, each with a leader. Groups should be cut from a diverse cross section of the organization including different teams, but could be grouped somewhat homogeneously by level to promote honest conversation and more contextual daily challenges.
  5. Determine how often groups will meet, and if they can be organized by the course. Some of the courses on Coursera include group projects at different levels and some profs might let you make  your own groups.
  6. Identify any pre-reading or activities that helps set the context of the work in the setting of organizational learning and development.
  7. Jump in!
Published at DZone with permission of Josh Dormont, author and DZone MVB.

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