Using MOOCs to drive learners to your online programmes

A new post on the Harvard Business Review blog caught my eye this week and illustrates an Large crowd of peopleidea learning strategists can use to help drive uptake on online programmes.  As one of the first out of the blocks with MOOCs, Harvard have been monitoring closely the effect on the bottom line and unsurprisingly so.  Although cannibalisation has been a major concern for higher ed since the MOOC phenomenon hit, what is often forgotten is that MOOCs are essentially a form of marketing; with the fees for a Harvard MBA currently at $58,875, they certainly weren’t going to do anything to jeopardise income but as all higher ed providers acknowledge, online changes the dynamic and shape of the market. Although not direct income generators, MOOCs are a way to develop ‘brand advocacy’ and encourage learners to go onto take paid programmes.  The evidence suggests that they can acts as ‘recruitment pools’ onto paid programmes in markets that have previously been hard to reach.  So what does all this have to do with the L&D team trying to increase the range and depth of their online learning offering? What’s important to learners – lessons from MOOCs Completing a course is not always the most important thing – this can be challenging for L&D teams when deciding upon the metrics for success.  Having a resource of top quality content to which I can return or take a proportion of a course relevant to me and perhaps return at a later date may still hold incredible value.  You’ll need to undertake research with your learners to understand the differences to practice and working outcomes your learning has rather than rely on LMS reports.  So building effective online learning programmes will mean the ‘effective’ bit needs to be measured in more sophisticated ways. To complete a course, completion needs to mean something – this is often an issue that our consultants explore in depth with our customers when developing their wider online learning strategies or launch plans for online academies.  Linking your programmes to things that matter to the learner are vital, if it’s not important, relevant and impactful, it will never move up the priority list. Could a MOOCs itself help? If MOOCs help the uptake of programmes for universities then why not for organisations?  Researching and promoting MOOCs that could be highly relevant to your learners helps drive the onlien learning agenda.  Participation can encourage and develop the skills needed to then go on and learn effectively on internal programmes.  Of course, you’ll need to choose carefully as there are some pretty poor MOOCs out there (although encouragingly this number is reducing significantly)  – so you need to ensure your recommendations are credible. Developing an effective online learning strategy isn’t easy but with the right help, there are huge benefits to organisations who embrace and capitalise on the new learning agenda.