Harvard Business Review recently caught my attention with an article titled “Who’s Benefiting From MOOCs and Why”, which shed some light on the doubts around the effectiveness of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Are people completing them? Are they producing tangible results? Are they worth the hype of being called “a revolution in higher education access”?
My personal and vicarious experience with MOOCs have been nothing but positive. I’ve taken several courses on Lynda.com to assist in my ventures into Wordpress for my personal blog, I thoroughly enjoyed the “How to Start a Startup” course I took through Stanford last fall, and I am currently learning basic HTML to build up some web design skills. So what’s all the fuss about?
Well, “in the last three years, over 25 million people from around the world have enrolled in [MOOCs]” offered by various platforms, but according to Coursera, “just 4% of Coursera users who watch at least one course lecture go on to complete the course and receive a credential.” Yikes. Does that dismal 4% get you excited to present MOOCs as a valid option for continuous education in your organization? Probably not, but don’t get discouraged yet. What might seem like a sad number of course completers overall turns out to be a pretty impressive number for your corporate crew.
Typically course completers are seeking one of two types of outcomes: educational benefits or career benefits (yes, this where you get interested). 52% of people surveyed by Coursera are considered career builders - they reported “a primary goal of improving their current job or finding a new job” - and of those career builders, 87% report a career benefit of some kind, tangible or intangible, from MOOCs.
From an individual’s perspective, the appeal of MOOCs is that they allow individuals to take continuous learning into their own hands and complete the training when they want, where they want. If they want to go for that promotion that requires a skill set they haven’t mastered yet, 8 hours of courses at home on a weekend might push their resume in the right direction.
From Learning & Development’s perspective it provides a platform for continuous learning with topics galore, that is running without much time invested from their team. Sure it might not have topics and methods that are specific to the company, but as a supplementary tool for learners to access with an 87% success rate, it sounds like a system to be considered.
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