How to Leverage the Power of MOOCs Develop People in Your Organization

As more organizations are becoming dispersed across multiple locations, it becomes increasingly difficult to gather people together for learning experiences. Virtual classroom technology does make this easier, but it still requires everyone one to be logged in at the same time. This is not always easy across time zones, and people are just plain busy.

An example of a huge challenge among learning and development professionals is facilitating leadership development programs among an audience of managers in multiple locations. Let's be honest, managers are famous for getting so caught up in their "fires" that they drop out of classes for something more urgent. But what if managers can attend a course on their own time, and use downtime to engage in discussions with peer managers, attend lectures, and perform assignments?

"Can this really be done?" you ask. It can. And we go to academia for the solution. The Massive Open Online Course (MOOC).

What the Heck is a MOOC?

A MOOC is a massive open online course that universities use to teach free college courses to anyone in the world. Universities from all over the world are offering free courses on a wide variety of topics. Although there is structure to a MOOC and assignments have deadlines, learners can complete assignments on their own time from anywhere in the world. If you live in Paris, Texas or Paris, France, you can attend a Stanford course, with a Stanford professor, based on the content of the course offered on campus. How cool is that?

If you have people in your organization who are located in multiple locations but need to learn the same skills, MOOCs may be a solution you should consider.

How to Leverage MOOCs In Your Organization

The easiest way to leverage MOOCs in your organization is to find an existing course that is relevant to your business and share it with specific people on your team. Coursera is a great place to start as they have courses on a wide-variety of topics. A company in New Zealand is using a MOOC to develop a new skill among some of its designers.

Another way to leverage the power of MOOCs in your organization is to design one yourself. After you select a relevant topic for a dispersed audience, you will want to design your MOOC using the following structural elements:
  1. A Lecture
  2. Reading Assignment
  3. Discussion
  4. Assignment
  5. 4-6 Weekly Topics

Emerging Delivery Method

MOOCs are an emerging learning method and will require some experimenting if you are willing to give it a try. If you do, you are breaking ground and providing a learning opportunity for your audience where one has not existed. Your high performers will likely appreciate the opportunity.

This post originally appeared on the humancapitalist blog.