How MOOCs are used in workplace training

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. This article will focus on MOOCs specifically designed for training purposes. It will also discuss how companies have already integrated these courses into their training and development programs.

MOOCs in Business and Training

Many start-ups recently created MOOCs to train their employees. Although these MOOCs are primarily in technology fields for now, the possibilities are rapidly expanding. Additionally, major MOOC providers offer a range of MOOCs that are targeted towards businesses.

  • Aquent Gymnasium.Aquent, a marketing and creative staffing agency, has recently launched Aquent Gymnasium as a MOOC provider. It offers technology courses for creative professionals. The first course, Coding for Designers, is a programming course designed for professionals who want to learn more about how to collaborate with software developers. The Web design technologies are the focus of the second course.
  • The Muse. The Muse, a job search website, has now expanded to MOOCs. The Muse is a job search site that targets job seekers. However, the available courses are focused on soft skills that could be used as training such as “Becoming A Networking Master” or “Management 101.”
  • openSAP.SAP is a business management software company that offers many MOOCs for developers, including “Introduction To Software Development on SAPHANA”, “Introduction To Mobile Solutions Development” and “In Memory Data Management”.
  • MongoDB. MongoDB is a database company that offers MOOCs to train users on their 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. Each participant company has pledged $250,000 to develop MOOCs that bridge the gap between what students study in traditional universities and the skills employers seek. An alternative credentialing system is being developed by the alliance for the free online courses.
  • Academic MOOCs Coursera, edX and others are making moves in the business market as part of their continuing search for a sustainable business model. The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania launched its first-year MBA courses through Coursera this fall. All courses are eligible to receive verified certificates through Signature Track. MIT recently announced a plan for an XSeries in supply chain management to be developed on the edX platform. Students who have completed all three courses will be awarded a MITx verified certificate. Stanford’s NovoED platform offers a range of MOOCs on entrepreneurship, including courses in leadership, finance and decision-making. The Stanford Graduate School of Business launched their first MOOC, “The Finance of Retirement and Pensions,” this fall.

Here are some examples of companies using MOOCs

It’s difficult to estimate how many organizations already use MOOCs and MOOC components in their training and developmental programs. However, there are a few well-known examples.

  • McAfee.According to a Forbes McAfee, a computer security company, recently adopted a MOOC model for solving one of its biggest training problems. The new-hire orientation process took more than 80 hours and employees weren’t completing it. McAfee “flipped classroom” to solve this problem. Students could access the content from their computers and then use the class time to discuss and do activities. McAfee said Forbes The change led to decreased training time as well as increased sales.
  • Yahoo! Yahoo! Yahoo! Sponsors its employees to obtain verified certificates through Coursera’s Signature Track Program. Patricia Brogan, Yahoo!’s manager, said that she is proud to be able to give certified certificates through Coursera’s Signature Track program.According to Patricia Brogan, manager of Yahoo!
  • JLT Group.JLT Insurance has used MOOCs to enhance its employee training and development. Interview with Sunder Ramachandran, training manager, reveals that the initiative is designed to address the training needs for a diverse, young and changing workforce. JLT employees participated in Coursera’s “Introduction to Public Speaking,” “Intro to Operations Management” and a few finance courses. Ramachandran said that JLT achieved moderate success with the program. JLT is now experimenting with MOOCs with small in-person groups.

All sides can benefit from MOOCs used in workforce education and corporate training. MOOC providers have the potential to generate revenue from training courses. Organizations can benefit by MOOCs allowing them to offer more effective training faster and at lower costs. Large company-funded initiatives, such as the Open Education Alliance will see more MOOCs designed specifically for training purposes. 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. MOOCs offer a unique way for companies to provide training, engage their employees more effectively in the learning process, and offer flexible and more accessible training solutions.

We are a team of professionals with each having two decades of experience in start-ups, sales, marketing, finance, HR, large scale project and profit centre management and running mature cross functional operations. At we are big believers that knowledge transfer is critical to our industry’s evolution. We love to share our experiences and learnings through our online resources.

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