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MOOC, or a Massive Open Online Course to give it its full title, is a relatively recent phenomenon.  The impact that these online courses are having on our industry are truely breathtaking, so let’s find out a little more.

The explosion of the internet has made the world a much smaller place and connected every corner of the globe; education is no different to many other industries in this respect. Within a MOOC learners from anywhere in the world are connected with each other, teachers and institutions that could be local or thousands of miles away.

Apply this idea to business and you can quickly connect the learning objectives of an entire, global organisation to the individual development areas of their employees.

Although MOOCs are a unique way of learning, they retain all the features of a traditional learning environment such as lectures, assignments and exams.  MOOCs enable employee’s anywhere in the world with an internet connection to join a particular course, are set tasks and are able to log in and complete the work at a pace that suits them.

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Learning in this new way has many advantages over traditional training for employee’s, the main benefit of MOOCs is that they enable employee’s who are excluded from traditional forms of training to learn.  This could be because they have roles that don’t allow time out from the business, or because the cost of training a large population of people in a workshop environment is prohibitive.

In this sense, a MOOC can provide tailored, targeted learning to individuals across an organisation.  You can even go further by connecting learning objectives, development plans and bonus structures to the satisfactory completion of certain courses.

What’s particularly exciting is that you can map your employee’s completion rates and which courses have proved most popular to broader, more traditional development programmes that complement the courses offered on your MOOC.  This is likely to increase engagement with the courses and the likelihood of completing a course.

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For trainers and HR professionals there are differing, but equally as valid, benefits.  By providing materials online, organisations are able to offer their services to an essentially endless number of employee’s, with minimal work.  Workshops, or courses can be filmed and uploaded, and all without adding much to a trainers workload.

It’s also a great way to raise the status of an organisation as an employer of choice.  For the first time an organisation can actually demonstrate a coherent map of what training and development is available to it’s employee’s, what the take up has been, the success rates and the interventions that come from those statistics.

Another brilliant benefit is that by basing training online, staff are able to engage with other trainers and subject specialists, and therefore collaborate in new and unexpected ways.  And it’s these new and unexpected ways that we’ll be keeping a close eye on the coming months.