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MOOCs: from Academia to Corporate

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A whitepaper from Docebo on massive open online courses (MOOCs) explores the genre’s popularity in the corporate learning world and its future viability in the academic world. The paper argues that MOOCs are still struggling to find a market niche within the corporate world.

To download the whitepaper visit: http://bit.ly/1ao9yP1

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MOOCs: from Academia to Corporate

  1. 1. MOOCs, fromAcademia to Corporate A DOCEBO WHITEPAPER Copyright © 2015 Docebo - All rights reserved. Docebo is either a registered trademark or trademark of Docebo S.p.A. Other marks are the property of their respective owners. To contact Docebo, please visit: www.docebo.com
  2. 2. MOOCs, From Academia to Corporate A panel discussion with industry experts Aaron Silvers, Mike Orey, John Leh and Erica LeBlanc, aided by Docebo’s Josh Squires and Roberta Gogos. JOHN LEH — CEO and Lead Analyst at Talented Learning. He’s an LMS selection consultant who helps organizations plan and implement technology strategies that support extended enterprise learning. Over the last 18 years he’s advised over 100 learning organizations with a total technology spend of $50m. AARON SILVERS — A designer, technologist and strategist responsible for helping to bring massively adopted learning technologies into organizations around the world, notably SCORM and xAPI (otherwise known as Tin Can). He leads the IEEE Learning Technology Standards Committee charged with the international industry standardization of the xAPI. DR MIKE OREY — An Associate Professor at the University of Georgia, who’s a teacher, researcher, designer, developer and visionary. ERICA LEBLANC — The Operations Development Manager for the IP and science business at Thomson Reuters, where she manages a team of instructional designers focusing on the creation and delivery of customized sales training courses. — These were some of the issues that were addressed in a webinar organized by Docebo, the disruptive Cloud e-learning solutions provider. Docebo had assembled a team of four online learning gurus to discuss the topic. In addition to Roberta Gogos, Marketing Director of Docebo and Josh Squires, Docebo’s Chief Operating Officer of EMEA, the webinar featured: Panel Discussion Massive open online courses (MOOCs) have their detractors and their skeptics; while those offering MOOCs are wondering how to make money from the intellectual property that comprises these courses. Nonetheless, despite being relative newcomers to the online learning scene, MOOCs have already shown their potential to disrupt the academic and corporate learning worlds - in terms of price, technology and even pedagogy. There’s a great deal to be said in favor of MOOCs – not least that they provide greater access to learning and a wider range of knowledge from different cultures and countries – but technology isn’t beneficial merely because it’s there. Digital-based learning activities can be inauthentic and not relate well to everyday uses. Moreover, you can now get lots of digital learning materials for free – and not exclusively from MOOCs. Furthermore, research from the MOOC provider, Coursera, has revealed that some 85% of their MOOC users have degrees. This suggests that MOOC students tend to be drawn from the already privileged in society. Those signing up for MOOCs tend to be confident, top achievers - not the poor, and certainly not those who’re unable, for whatever reason, to access the internet. They considered ten key questions about MOOCs.  Copyright © 2015 Docebo - All rights reserved. Docebo is either a registered trademark or trademark of Docebo S.p.A. Other marks are the property of their respective owners. To contact Docebo, please visit: www.docebo.com 2MOOCS, FROM ACADEMIA TO CORPORATE - A DOCEBO WHITEPAPER
  3. 3. Q1 — What’s a MOOC? Mike Orey explained that MOOCs stands for massively open online courses. Focusing on the first two of these words, he said that ‘open’ means that they’re free to learners – and asked, “So what does that mean for companies that want to make a profit?” He said that most MOOCs involve watching some sort of a video - sometimes a long video. Students take a multiple choice test and discuss things with other students in a largely unproctored discussion forum. In his view, it’s not really a conversation and it’s really not relationship building. He pointed out that the first MOOC attracted some 100,000 students but only 1000 or so completed the course. Today, you see people calling things MOOCs that have between 100 and 300 students. As the ‘M’ becomes smaller, you’re left with the ‘O’ (online) and the ‘C’ (courses), he said. ‘Online courses’ means e-learning – and when it comes to creating highly interactive e-learning experiences on a smaller scale, the key to effectiveness is less about technology and more about how you form relationships between teachers and students - and among students. John Leh said that the original idea of MOOCs was that university professors would capture their live course content over a semester and then put it online for free – allowing anybody in the world with access to the internet to consume this content.  Today, MOOCs tend to refer to a collection of individual courses from one source, such as a university. MOOCs can also be defined as the learning management system (LMS) platform that allows people or organizations to create, host and deploy content.  He stated that there are now for-profit and non-profit MOOCs. Examples include Udacity or Coursera (for-profits) and university MOOCs such as edX (non-profits). Furthermore, since MOOCs come from academia, they’re often categorized by their instructional approach. A video-based MOOC with online grading is known as a broadcast MOOC. A MOOC with group grading and which focuses on a collaborative experience where learners share with each other – via social learning for example - is referred to as a connectivist MOOC.   The ‘open’ in the word MOOCs means that they’re free to learners, so what does that mean for companies that want to make a profit?  Mike Orey Copyright © 2015 Docebo - All rights reserved. Docebo is either a registered trademark or trademark of Docebo S.p.A. Other marks are the property of their respective owners. To contact Docebo, please visit: www.docebo.com 3MOOCS, FROM ACADEMIA TO CORPORATE - A DOCEBO WHITEPAPER
  4. 4. Q2 — What’s the future for MOOCs? Erica LeBlanc believes that a sustainable business model for MOOCS involves them partnering with businesses to offer their platform either as an internal service for employee development or as a customized MOOC that has material related to the product or service of the businesses. In Aaron Silvers’ view, MOOCs provide a way to sell academic text and reference materials to ‘non-traditional students’. They also provide an ancillary market for the kinds of materials that universities need to sell in order to provide the student experience. However, the term MOOC may be misapplied in the corporate world – since, there, it’s neither ‘massive’ nor ‘open’. John commented:  Free is tough to sustain - and something has to give in the process. That could be the quality of the individual courses.  From a corporate, academic and an e-learning standpoint, just watching a video for an hour of somebody speaking in front of a classroom is extremely dull. Yet, to do it better requires time, money and effort – and, to get it up to the standards that we’re used to, costs money to buy the software to create and then host it. “If, potentially, you have hundreds of thousands of learners, you’ve got to have an environment that can support that type of traffic. That costs money. So, whether they’re for profit or not-for-profit, MOOCs aren’t driven to generate revenue because, otherwise, they’re a complete cost center - and that’s unsustainable in the long-term. The easiest way is this freemium approach. “Currently, you don’t get college credit for attending a MOOC class,” John added. “You get to attend it. You get to learn the knowledge, and you can take an assessment - which can get you a certificate once you’ve completed it. However, the value of this certificate is debatable - and you don’t get the college credits. It’s not the same as actually going to Harvard. So MOOCs are offering this freemium approach where the content is free but, then, something is paid for. Currently that’s mainly at the certificate level but I predict that, one day, you’ll be able to take a MOOC online and obtain college credit. That will be when MOOCs go more mainstream.” Mike pointed out that a university is a business in the sense that it’s selling its product. He continued: “MOOCs are giving people a free trial of the experience of taking a university class and, at the end, you can get the continuing education credits for a small fee. Some smaller universities are now offering MOOC students the opportunity to get college credits but, mostly, they’re using these MOOCs to attract students to come to the university full-time and pay full tuition fees.”  MOOCs are giving people a free trial of the experience of taking a university class and, at the end, you can get the continuing education credits for a small fee  Mike Orey Copyright © 2015 Docebo - All rights reserved. Docebo is either a registered trademark or trademark of Docebo S.p.A. Other marks are the property of their respective owners. To contact Docebo, please visit: www.docebo.com 4MOOCS, FROM ACADEMIA TO CORPORATE - A DOCEBO WHITEPAPER
  5. 5. Q3 — From a corporate perspective, what types of MOOCs are there, how are they being implemented and why would a corporation want a MOOC? Having spent 20 years in the corporate sector, John doesn’t think MOOCs are, or will be, disruptive. He said that, from a ‘massive’ standpoint, there are LMS deployments in the US Department of Defense (DoD), in associations and some non-governmental agencies that are massive by MOOCs’ massive standards. He added that, in technical terms, existing LMSs can do everything that a MOOC does. They can be used to assemble course content and blended learning paths for any length of learning program – and can cope with social learning and mobile delivery. “We already have the ability to show any type of content, so the only thing that MOOCs really provide is the ability to have free content that you can then deploy to your internal employees or your extended enterprise,” he said. “And, while that has value, free content isn’t necessarily engaging content. So MOOCs aren’t taking off from a corporate perspective.” Aaron agreed. He commented: MOOCs are a good vehicle for brand evangelism and community development that can potentially lead to sales enablement. There are markets that benefit from that approach – such as healthcare, pharmaceutical companies, healthcare products in technology organizations that produce such technologies and products, manufacturing equipment and hardware where you’re dealing with safety issues and things like that. It can also help where you want to provide a value add to your customer base or your partners, in terms of showing them how to use your product, or raising public awareness about what you’re doing. “Computer and mobile technology could also benefit from the MOOC approach, along with makers, vendors and software developers because, when you’re facing a customer audience, you’re talking about being ‘open’, potentially ‘massive’ and you’re not so much concerned about how many people complete the learning. You’re there to inform and serve the community - so it’s a form a community development. There are collaborative community approaches to be had inside an organization but I wouldn’t call them MOOCs. They’re a form of blended learning.” Erica’s view differed from John’s. She said: “Corporate partnering with MOOCs is something that’ll be evolving in the next few years. A reputable MOOC, coming from the universities, or platforms like edX, could be integrated with corporate development plans. So an LMS wouldn’t necessarily render MOOCs irrelevant. There’s a lot of information that needs to be transferred to employees. If the information already exists and comes from a reputable university, I’d take advantage of that.”   We already have the ability to show any type of content, so the only thing that MOOCs really provide is the ability to have free content that you can then deploy to your internal employees or your extended enterprise  John Leh Copyright © 2015 Docebo - All rights reserved. Docebo is either a registered trademark or trademark of Docebo S.p.A. Other marks are the property of their respective owners. To contact Docebo, please visit: www.docebo.com 5MOOCS, FROM ACADEMIA TO CORPORATE - A DOCEBO WHITEPAPER
  6. 6. Q4 — Are MOOCs really a disruptive force in learning? MOOCs aren’t going to be a disruptive force in learning, principally because of the overall poor quality of the learning experience they provide, according to Mike. Instead, he believes that e-learning has already become that disruptive force. He explained: “When I started at the University of Georgia in 1989, we never advertised for students to enroll in the university. They just came. But, now, they have so many other options - including university courses offered online from the convenience of their homes. That’s transformed learning. All of our master’s programs, which used to be held face-to-face at Athens, Georgia, are now all online. “Georgia Tech is now offering a collection of MOOCs that lead to an undergraduate degree in computer science but I don’t think that that’s going to be the overarching model,” he added. “I think e-learning is certainly a disruptive force but I don’t think MOOCs are.” “It’s all about money,” suggested John.  The difference between e-learning and MOOCs is the investment and the quality of the content, as well as a different business model on how to market and sell that contents.  As Dr Orey describes, you can pay for online college education. An alternative business model is to provide that training for free and charge for the actual course credits upon successfully passing the assessments. “I think both business models are sustainable and both business models will drive revenue - one more so than the other. Moreover, there are always market disruptors in every industry that come up with a new way of charging for the same thing. While some universities will take this up, others - probably the most prestigious ones - will resist it.” Aaron’s view is that it’s not MOOCs but the prevailing economic forces that are promoting MOOCs as vehicles to provide academia with an economic benefit. He said that the disrupters might be the delivery mechanism, the experience of it and/or the collective approach towards experience. He stated: “I think it’s going to come down to the quality of the content and then the experience of it that’s going to truly disrupt within that space but, again, I don’t think that MOOCs are disrupting academia so much as the economy around it.”   MOOCs aren’t going to be a disruptive force in learning because of the overall poor quality of the learning experience they provide. Instead, e-learning has already become that disruptive Force.  Mike Orey Copyright © 2015 Docebo - All rights reserved. Docebo is either a registered trademark or trademark of Docebo S.p.A. Other marks are the property of their respective owners. To contact Docebo, please visit: www.docebo.com 6MOOCS, FROM ACADEMIA TO CORPORATE - A DOCEBO WHITEPAPER
  7. 7. Q5 — What’s the primary benefit to businesses offering MOOCs? “Universities are using MOOCs to get customers,” said Mike. “The same thing can happen with companies that are in business-to-consumer (B2C) markets. The financial advising sector offer free courses at hotels in a bid to get more customers. I think that they could do the same thing with a MOOC and they could reach more people that way.” Erica, Aaron and John agreed. John added that the principal benefits of MOOCs to businesses can be seen in terms of career development, sales enablement and customer education. He said: “But, again, I look at it from the LMS lens and I can’t stop thinking that we’ve already been doing this for ten years. We provide customer learning and customer education of the highest e-learning quality to customers globally. We’re already doing this on a massive scale – and many times it’s open.” Q6 — Will MOOCs up-end the fundamental structure of teaching - especially in a corporate setting? John believes it’s possible for MOOCs to reshape teaching or the economic structure of teaching if MOOC content can achieve consistent high quality and give people a viable alternate business model. Conversely, because there’s still a demand from individuals to have an accredited academic degree, Erica doesn’t see MOOCs disrupting the fundamental economic structure of teaching which universities can supply. She commented: “With teaching there’s a classroom experience, a network experience, a personalization and the practical application. You’re also together with like-minded peers. All those are things which MOOCs don’t provide. “When you’re part of a MOOC, anyone can join,” she said, adding that, therefore, there’s no guarantee - in terms of the social learning interaction that’s a major part of a MOOC - that all the participants have shared intellectual backgrounds or goals.   Universities are using MOOCs to get customers – the same thing can happen with companies that are in business-to- consumer (B2C) markets.  Mike Orey Copyright © 2015 Docebo - All rights reserved. Docebo is either a registered trademark or trademark of Docebo S.p.A. Other marks are the property of their respective owners. To contact Docebo, please visit: www.docebo.com 7MOOCS, FROM ACADEMIA TO CORPORATE - A DOCEBO WHITEPAPER
  8. 8. Q7 — What will be the effect of MOOCs in developing countries and immature learning markets? Erica explained that MOOCs are offering people in developing countries access to previously almost inaccessible knowledge. She said: “A key word here is outsourcing. These people are getting knowledge from accredited universities to help them develop reputable businesses.” Aaron took up this theme – the hope that MOOCs will democratize the education of the underrepresented and the disenfranchised, making knowledge accessible to all. He said that there are signs of this happening, via non-governmental organizations (NGOs), to the underrepresented and disenfranchised sections of society in the USA. He added: “The practices we see working in developing countries are taking hold, even in developing countries. There’s evidence that the people who really like using MOOCs are the people who already have all the advantages of education. There’s nothing wrong with that – but we need to recognize that there are different needs and different expectations of what success will look like when we’re talking about immature markets.” Q8 — How do you see corporate acceptance of MOOC- based education? Josh Squires asked: “Does a person having 60 MOOC certificates provide the same value to an employer as one with an MS or BA?” Mike’s view is that it depends on the reputation of the organization that produced the MOOC(s). He added that supply and demand will drive this acceptance and, once MOOC certificates are generally accepted, they’ll become commonplace. He said: “Employers are now hiring people with an e-learning- based degree just as often as they hire someone with a face-to-face residential degree.” According to Aaron, the development of open badges is providing a credentialing system that’s open and accredited, where it’s traceable. The validity of the accreditation is attributed to the validity of the badge issuer. He said: “Over time, if you’re looking to hire a project manager and you find someone who’s gone through a MOOC experience to earn their project management professional certification, you’ll look at that person seriously. What matters is the relevance of the competencies that are represented by whatever certificates people are getting from a MOOC - and what level of rigor is applied to qualifying those certificates and the people issuing them. Moreover, employers have to know what level of capability has been demonstrated and evaluated for the job applicant to obtain those certificates.”   Over time, if you’re looking to hire a project manager and you find someone who’s gone through a MOOC experience to earn their project management professional certification, you’ll look at that person seriously”  Aaron Silvers Copyright © 2015 Docebo - All rights reserved. Docebo is either a registered trademark or trademark of Docebo S.p.A. Other marks are the property of their respective owners. To contact Docebo, please visit: www.docebo.com 8MOOCS, FROM ACADEMIA TO CORPORATE - A DOCEBO WHITEPAPER
  9. 9. Q9 — How can you close the gap between MOOCs’ high enrolment and low completion rates? Mike revealed that he’s been teaching online since 1998 and, over that time, the drop-out rate from his online classes is the same as the drop-out rate from the classes he teaches face-to-face. Generally, he said, everyone who starts the course, finishes the course. He asked: “Can you reduce MOOCs’ drop-out rate by getting people to pay for the course? If you do, the learners have an investment in the course but, then, the MOOC isn’t ‘open’.” Arguing that watching videos, taking multiple-choice tests and having online conversations with fellow-learners is not ‘great teaching and learning’, so it’s no wonder that the drop-out rates are high, he said: “To establish teacher-presence you need to form relationships with the students. That means you have to have conversations with them. How can you implement a Socratic method if you’re not engaged in a conversation with students? Yet that’s impossible to do with a massive number of students. The problem with MOOCs is that they’re what they are. You can’t fix the high drop-out rate because there’s bad instruction.” “Maybe paying a fee in that freemium approach of paying for the credentialing or the certificate is still a way that the education is open but something tangible is not,” John responded. “Nonetheless, studies have shown that, when students pay a fee, they’ll persevere through boring content because they saw enough value in it to buy it in the first place. So charging is automatically going to increase completion rates. Because a MOOC is free and there’s no commitment on the student, it’s easy to register yet never attend. A lot of people aren’t going to do that if they’ve got to swipe their credit card to get on the course.” “Coming with MOOC certificates or MOOC credentialing in the future will be the same as coming with any other type of higher education degree,” agreed John, but he added that, at present, MOOC-related qualifications aren’t held in this high regard. “Even today, though, if somebody shows up for a new job and has the relevant credentialing and someone else doesn’t, the credentialing from a MOOC is going to be accepted. The self-starters who’re taking these courses and documenting them on their user profiles or their performance appraisals are going to have more advantages than those who don’t.”   Nonetheless, studies have shown that, when students pay a fee, they’ll persevere through boring content because they saw enough value in it to buy it in the first place.  John Leh Copyright © 2015 Docebo - All rights reserved. Docebo is either a registered trademark or trademark of Docebo S.p.A. Other marks are the property of their respective owners. To contact Docebo, please visit: www.docebo.com 9MOOCS, FROM ACADEMIA TO CORPORATE - A DOCEBO WHITEPAPER
  10. 10. Ignoring the economics of MOOCs, Aaron focused on their design, saying: “The reason MOOCs tend to have high enrollment and poor completion rates is because there’s low engagement. The only reason any MOOC student sticks with it is because s/he has the will to do it. “One of the challenges of going with a platform approach is that you’re subscribing to a lot of the baked-in design decisions about what the experience should be,” he continued. “So a MOOC that’s primarily video-based with some discussion forums only addresses a handful of user cases about how people want to learn - particularly when we move away from the academic world and look at learning in any professional setting.  Many of those learners will want to dig into content later. They’re going to want to annotate it, recall it and bookmark it. They’re going to want – or need - to participate in discussion forums.  “So there are issues of being deliberate in the design assumptions. You buy into a platform and do what it pre-programs you to do - but you’re buying all the assumptions that go with it. You need to recognize that they’re not necessarily what you or your organization needs.” Aaron’s recipe for reducing drop-out rates is to introduce elements of blended learning, where the tutor engages with the learners to create an experience that’s big enough to include everybody who’s signing up. Q10 — Are MOOCs actually disrupting anything? “Academia, yes; corporate America, no,” said John, laconically. Aaron added: “MOOCs aren’t disrupting academia so much as are other things - and I don’t know that MOOCs are really disrupting much of anything else. There’s no data around MOOC analytics. There’s no evidence of what they’re disrupting. While I think there are people who’re self-motivated and who’re using MOOCs to learn, I think those people would be self-motivated to learn via any other means, given its availability.”   MOOCs aren’t disrupting academia so much as are other things - and I don’t know that MOOCs are really disrupting much of anything else.  John Leh Copyright © 2015 Docebo - All rights reserved. Docebo is either a registered trademark or trademark of Docebo S.p.A. Other marks are the property of their respective owners. To contact Docebo, please visit: www.docebo.com 10MOOCS, FROM ACADEMIA TO CORPORATE - A DOCEBO WHITEPAPER
  11. 11. Afterword by Josh Squires COO of Docebo EMEA While the potential of millions of people all collaborating on a single topic or subject in a shared learning environment is extremely exciting and revolutionary to say the least, the reality (at least for today) is far less likely to spark that collaborative brilliance that the origination of the MOOC platform initially promised. MOOCs are a concept that is still struggling to find a market niche within the corporate world. In the traditional education space MOOCs have a massive following with students and degreed individuals participating in classes with tens of thousands of participants, all of which are working via discussion boards, video lectures, and assessments or assignments to further their understanding of the topics being addressed. In the corporate world MOOCs are not getting the traction that we are seeing in Academia. The main reason for this is that a MOOC stands for ‘Massively’ – a lot of people, ‘Open’ - free, ‘Online’ - web based, ‘Course’ - learning content organized according to instructional design principles. It is very difficult for any but the largest of corporations to have a following around a subject that they are willing to give away to the masses for free. Often, organizations get a small following of interested participants who quickly lose interest as the collaboration and engagement aspects within the environment being to lose their initial luster. Unanticipated costs to the corporation start to rise as the benefit of giving free training to users becomes difficult to justify. It is very difficult to fulfill or even justify the requirements of being a MOOC from a corporate perspective in the current market. All is not lost however and there are models that have proven successful within some organizations so if your heart is set on a MOOC there is still a case to be made to launch one. I would however take a deep long look at your business requirements beforehand and evaluate whether a MOOC is a requirement needed to solve your issue, or whether some very good, targeted learning can accomplish the same (refer to this article entitled: Is it a MOOC or just eLearning). MOOCs are going to be around for a while and their evolution and adoption levels will fluctuate while the market determines the most effective models. There are a large number of learning and engagement models within the Learning and Development field and MOOCs are just one of many that are being implemented and with limited success. As of today MOOCs have yet to prove their effectiveness in relation to some of the more established models of online engagement and retention, or in Market Disruption. In my opinion MOOCs are riding the wave of public awareness however they have yet (at least in the corporate world) to make their case for a rush to adopt. Josh Squires is currently serving as the Chief Operating Officer of Docebo EMEA. Josh has spent the past 15 years researching and implementing creative learning solutions within corporate and higher education environments. With clients ranging from Motorola to Disney, he has been on the designing and implementing stage of a wide range of learning scenarios with customers spanning the globe. Josh has also taught Instructional Technology theory and tools, as a consultant and faculty member, for over eight years in both Corporate and Higher Education environments. Copyright © 2015 Docebo - All rights reserved. Docebo is either a registered trademark or trademark of Docebo S.p.A. Other marks are the property of their respective owners. To contact Docebo, please visit: www.docebo.com 11MOOCS, FROM ACADEMIA TO CORPORATE - A DOCEBO WHITEPAPER
  12. 12. For more information, visit www.docebo.com www.facebook.com/Docebo twitter.com/docebo www.linkedin.com/company/docebo-srl Try a 14-day free trial at www.docebo.com

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