Best practices for corporate MOOCs and SPOCs
In this article, representatives from ten companies give their advice for implementing MOOCs and SPOCs.
- Center for Creative Leadership (CCL)
- Gayeski Analytics
- Applestar Productions
- Central Michigan University
Small private online courses (SPOCs) came about as a way to address some of the shortcomings seen in MOOCs, namely low participation and completion rates and uneven content relevance. SPOCs are useful for topics that require more intensive learning than can be accomplished in a webinar. They also have an approach that includes more social learning activities such as forums, hangouts, peer evaluations, and group projects and assignments.
Note: One interesting side point in this article was in a case study of ADP. They created a MOOC to teach their staff a new method for implementing one of their products. The MOOC had a 90% completion rate and 86.9% of team activities earned a competent rating.
- Make sure there is strong collaboration between the learning and development team, the business unit, and the subject matter experts.
- Identify a program owner who will oversee the cohort and their progress, and assist in their progress and learning as needed.
- Ask a senior-level champion to participate in the MOOC.
- Make sure stakeholders and sponsors understand the time commitment needed from the learners.
- Clearly define the support that will be available, and the people involved in support activities. This includes technical, administrative, and content support.
- Create a maintenance plan to make sure the MOOC content is maintained and updated as needed for future use.
- Try to schedule cohorts to the MOOCs far in advance to help accommodate schedules.
- Define a communication strategy for stakeholders, managers, and participants about expectations for the MOOC initiative as well as the process.
- Create a marketing campaign to advertise the MOOC to potential learners.
If evaluating vendors to help with a corporate MOOC, consider:
- Most MOOC providers have content created for universities, which may not be relevant for corporate needs.
- MOOC platforms may not work well with corporate LMSs.
- Create, and require participation in, collaborative activities instead of a transmission of information followed by a discussion.
- Provide multiple asset types and learning opportunities.
- Have flexibility in completion dates, but provide start and stop dates for activities to keep the cohort together as they progress.
- Use small breakout teams for discussions.
- Prefer adding short videos and meetings over having longer discussion forums.
- Include markers of achievement such as certificates or badges.
- Give the learners an opportunity to explore the MOOC platform. Don’t assume they will know how to use it.
- Consider using an internal social networking tool (such as Yammer or a private LinkedIn group) to facilitate networking.
- Encourage learners to form learning partnerships, pairing with others to help hold each other accountable and stay motivated as well as to support each other in learning.
- Collect data and metrics to evaluate the MOOC’s effectiveness and return on investment.
- Make sure the learning and development team members have attended a MOOC so they understand how it is organized.
- Create a Q&A forum board that notifies a team member, support person, or program owner when a question is posted.
- Consider an assignment in which the cohort must define and complete a project, with progress posted weekly for peer review.
- Provide rubrics for peer reviews.
- Consider using external resources found on the Internet, but be sure to use proper attribution and honor copyrights.
By 2015, Tenaris held six SPOCs (with two more planned for 2016/2017) and four MOOCs. The SPOCs have been attended by over 600 employees, and the MOOCs have had over 40,000 students. They use the edX platform: https://www.edx.org/school/tenarisuniversity