Many who have been following my blog, know my love of MOOCs – the connectivist kind. Having completed many of them in the past few years, they have been instrumental in my broadening my own personal learning networks (PLN) but also giving me the confidence to use, explore, play and apply different social tools in my work.
(If you would like to know the difference between the cMOOC and the xMOOCs (like those offered by providers such as Coursera, EdX and many others), check out this short video by Dave Cormier).
All arguments aside about what constitutes a MOOC, whether it’s massive, open, online or whether it’s a course – or even questions about the lack of numbers completing MOOCs, for me, they’re moot points.
What I like to look at is its effectiveness as a medium to solve a particular business problem.
So What’s The Problem?
After my first experience of a connectivist MOOC, I immediately saw an application for cMOOCs in a corporate learning context to solve a problem that I was observing.
That problem was that many people in organisations simply do not know how to use the social and virtual tools that their workplace provide them to do their job – instead continue to rely on email and file directories.
Before laying blame on the IT or the Learning and Development department for not providing adequate training, what becomes obvious is that simply getting people to complete systems training courses is only half the solution. The other half is to encourage people to find out how to use the tools for their own work and context so they become more productive.
Social Learning Experience Guided Design or a cMOOC By Any Other Name
Jane Hart used the term Social Learning Experience Guided Design when she made a case for it to be used in workplace learning in her blog post of the same name. In effect, it’s connectivist in nature because learning happens through creating connections and expanding the complexity and strength of networks. It’s people learning with each other, through each other – the tools simply allow these connections to occur quicker and easier.
The beauty of the cMOOC or social learning guided experience is that you can use these same tools to create the experience that will teach people HOW they can use them in their own work.
So in effect, you are not introducing any new tools, you’re not using any costly external vendor solutions nor developing any new online learning courseware. Also, there is no need to use learning management systems (LMS), buy new specific “MOOC-like LMSes” or create meaningless assessments.
Instead, you create experiences that allow for your people to learn how to use the tools for their own work with the ultimate performance outcome of improving their work productivity; efficiency and engagement.
So What Tools Can I Use?
As a guide, you can create a cMOOC/Social Learning Guided Design Program if your organisation has any of the following tools:
- A webinar tool (eg Lync, Webex, GoTo Meeting, etc)
- Intranet (eg SharePoint)
- Social Learning Platform (any Enterprise Social Network eg Yammer, or SharePoint Communities or access to Google+ communities)
No, you don’t need your LMS here.
Repeat. You don’t need an LMS.
What I’m Working On
Back in June 2013, I blogged about an idea I wanted to try out on a mini MOOC on Digital Literacy Skills. At the time, I was employed with an organisation who was open to learning and trying new things and had Webex (virtual classroom and webinar tool); podcasting; SharePoint and an enterprise social networking platform called Yammer. I created a strategy paper to outline the proposal and even sought out assistance from people across the organisation who could act as subject matter experts and community moderators for each topic, unfortunately a restructure stopped this going ahead.
Two years later, I am now working with one client at the moment to create a connectivist MOOC. Although we will not be calling it a cMOOC, nor a Social Learning Guided Experience Design (bit of a mouthful), we are calling it the “Work, Connect and Learn Program” which is a 5 week program that will enable Engineering and Maintenance team members to be able to use the social and mobile tools effectively so that they could share their knowledge, collaborate on projects across sites and increase their social networking skills.
The program is currently in design and I will commence development over the coming weeks for the program to be rolled out in the new year in a similar format to a cMOOC structure which is a blend of real time webinars; curated resources; podcasts and activities within SharePoint communities and newsfeeds.
- Module 0: Learn How to Learn Online:
- Module 1: Learn How to Connect:
- Module 2: Learn How to Network:
- Module 3: Learn How to Collaborate Part A: Using the Social & Mobile Tools
- Module 4: Learn How to Collaborate Part B: Applying the Tools to a Work Problem
Overall, the program will build upon the knowledge sharing, virtual collaboration and social networking to create a community of practice.
What’s It All Mean In the Grander Scale?
While working with this client, one of the things that has struck me is that I’m continually learning too and sharing what I’m learning. Together, we are feeding ideas and possibilities then trying them out to see how it would work within the organisational context and environment.
For example, as I work from home, I do not have access to the enterprise tools such as SharePoint 2013 or Lync so that they are not as ‘second nature’ to me as to say tools like LinkedIn, Twitter or Yammer are to me.
However, as I use other social tools and platforms and I understand the various functionality that are within these social networking platforms, you can experiment and try out new ways to make the tool work for you. Added to the fact that there are an abundant resources on Google and YouTube and scattered in forums within Yammer, LinkedIn forums and Quora, it won’t take long to find an answer.
What has become evident in this whole process is that social learning guided experience is that it need not have learning and development teams to design or develop the programs. In effect, these can be created anytime and anywhere by anyone in the organisation who has the skills to use the tools, the curiosity to learn and apply and the drive to connect people – and this could pose a threat to learning and development teams but it need not do so unless they too are open to this as a medium for learning.
Yeah But What About the LMS?
For those who may be thinking that we need a Learning Management System to track assessments or completions, think again. We are not measuring the learning but measuring the performance and business impact of that learning.
Ultimately the success measure of this program will be against achieving strategic objectives through:
- Number of identified process efficiencies or cost savings through a hashtag (eg similar to #Yammerwins) – total the dollars saved for every #WCLWin
- Increase in the number of cross-site projects
- Decrease in the number of emails to the Senior Managers
- Greater than 80% of all Engineers and Maintenance team members to have full Lync and SharePoint profiles
- Greater than 80% of the team following each other
- One new innovation identified within 6 months of the WCL Program nominated for an Innovation Award
Where Can I Learn More?
I am currently completing the 4 week Social Learning Guided Experience Design Workshop through Jane Hart’s Modern Workplace Learning and it comes highly recommended if you are interested in creating a social learning program for your organisation.
Read more about my cMOOC experiences and How I Have Applied them In My Work:
- Enforcing Independence in Workplace Learning
- A Corporate MiniMOOC on Digital Skills
- Week 2 Teach the MOOC cMOOC
- Are You Doing the MOOC or Focussing on the Platform?
- Can You Make Your Learning Connect?
- Reflections of Personal Learning Network MOOC
For those interested, there are many more blog posts related to “Social Learning” too. Simply enter “social learning” in the search box of my blog to pull up all the posts.