This month I started another MOOC on EdX designed by Microsoft’s Principal PM Manager Karuana Gatimu and Content Developer Brandon Neeb called Microsoft Service Adoption Course.
The course was published this year and had been shared across social media through many Microsoft consultants who are responsible for programs that involve the adoption of collaborative systems. In fact, there’s an entire Twitter list of people created by Daniel Ray @stilldrey who have completed the course and indeed, even YouTube chats about it like this one from Loryan Strant (@LoryanStrant) for 365 Unplugged (watch from 12:25 onwards).
Let’s just say, it received a lot of attention for a MOOC (massive open online course).
I work for Adopt & Embrace a few days a week and we were encouraged to consider completing this course as part of our professional development and also due to the fact that as a senior adoption consultant, my role is to help organisations enable their employees to deliver business outcomes. They do this through understanding how to effectively use the organisational, business and technical systems in such a way that it helps them improve their workplace performance and productivity and also hopefully, free up some time so they can do more added value work.
Ever since MOOCs came out some years back, I’ve been a great fan of them and openly encouraged people to do them as part of their development plan.
In my field of corporate learning and development, there has been a long argument and controversy over the effectiveness of MOOCs and whether they present any real advantage and value to the individual or even the company. Back in 2014, MOOCs were a hot topic of contention in corporate Learning and Development circles and conferences as people raged and debated their usefulness. Since then, there has been little if any, talk about these. They’re not popular with corporate learning and development teams.
In effect, they’re considered a fad.
My own opinion is that they serve a purpose especially if they are part of a blended learning program. After all, when I see people outside my field (general public) doing courses like these (and they are more popular than ever because they are accessible, mobile and free, then I tend to think the opposite to my peers. Instead, I think “how can we help our people to incorporate personal learning experiences within these MOOCs).
As someone who values continual and lifelong learning, MOOCs for me have served a purpose as curated content in a structured way that gives me the freedom to learn anytime, anywhere, anyhow and I can pick and choose if I want to finish it or not.
It’s not the ONLY way I learn but it helps me structure my own personal plan.
A little bit of reading, a little bit of a MOOC, watching a video, practising what is taught, blogging my reflections, sharing what I learn on Twitter, LinkedIn or this blog, note taking here and there, generating insights and ideas that I scribble on a note pad; there’s a whole BLEND of stuff because I don’t consider the merits of these things individually.
I like to see how they fit in the OVERALL PICTURE of someone’s personal learning plan.
This is where I thought that some of my peers were missing the point entirely with MOOCs.
Similarly, MOOCs have been personal transformative experiences for me (not the x-MOOCs such as the EdX and the Courseras that we know so well) but more the connectivist MOOCs (c-MOOCs) that have more critical thinking, knowledge creation and generation, reflection and community learning at its core.
This type of connectivist learning (social learning) has been entirely overlooked by many in my field. I’m unsure the reason as to why but I believe it may be because the outcomes and impacts of these are hard – and too long- to measure to provide any return to the organisation.
Also, I believe that many people don’t value learning in this manner citing lack of time or lack of support by their manager or organisation. If your performance and remuneration is not measured by how much you learn on the job, how you build your networks and connections, how your nurture your relationships and how you contribute and participate in forums and communities to inspire new thinking then why do it?
I have written a lot in the past about these different types of MOOCs and the value one receives from participation and contribution and lost track with the amount of courses I have completed – both the x and the c-kind (although truth be told, I far prefer the connectivist kind).
MICROSOFT SERVICE ADOPTION COURSE
Arguments aside as to the value and benefit of MOOCs, I am slowly going through this course.
I am physically taking notes into a notebook and referring back to them as well as downloading the tools and templates to create my own document library of “service adoption tools”.
I take it a little bit at a time because the material is dense. There’s a lot of reading, there’s videos to watch as well but I like the format of it which outlines the framework for helping organisations to adopt their technology.
In effect, the course outlines the process and the steps that teams will need to go through and consider as well as a case study to apply the learning.
Specifically, the course is about the six critical elements of driving adoption of Microsoft cloud services to deliver value to the company. It covers the following:
- Structure of a service adoption team
- How to create service strategy & success measures
- Communication methods for training & service awareness
- Feedback & community management tools
- Technical readiness elements
What I particularly like is that it uses the performance consultancy approach by first understanding what it is you want to achieve with regards to business outcomes, understand the business environment, seek out work scenarios that are considered pain points and then building a plan.
As I’m going through the course, I’m struck at the similarity of the work I tried to encourage and influence Learning and Development to undertake. Although this course is centred on Microsoft products, really, it’s not about products and services – it’s about behaviour and mindset changes around how people perform at work.
So let’s just move Microsoft aside – and what you have in this course, is a framework for L&D to consider working with business (but there’s a caveat and that is, stop thinking as your function as a stand-alone function and start to think about how you can work as part of an integrated and collaborative multi-functional team).
The course encourages us to consider our work as flows and understand how it gets done; what documents are used; what systems are used; what people are called up – viewing work as a collaboration and productivity system.
I was also surprised at the tools that were available for download.
Over the years, I had created different tools and templates that I had customised in order to make assessments through each stage of planning, implementation and execution. Of course, I still use these because they have served me well but now I see that all these are now freely and openly available on Microsoft because the applications are exactly the same.
It got me thinking that too often learning and development teams are too concerned about their learning management systems, their new vendor solutions, their courses, their content without realising that all this time, they could have worked with the business and IT to effectively understand how they could help their people better understand how work got done in the organisation and how to improve the blocks by showing them tips and techniques to help. That is, looking at their employees’ scenarios at work then creating suitable strategies to help them become effective.
This course is also showing me that the lines between Organisational Development, IT, Change, Marketing & Communications and Learning and Development are becoming blurred. Everyone is doing each other’s job – there’s very little discernment of one role over another anymore.
As I go through the myriad of Microsoft resources online, the various communities, and the free courses, I also realise that we simply have so much content available to us. Learning and Development cannot compete nor stand out from it all unless they come up with something unique and distinctive. They need to define a new role for themselves that doesn’t involve how they did business previously nor taking a siloed approach as they have always done in the past.
Part of me thinks that we should start from scratch in the sense that we start from the position of ignorance.
I feel ignorant the more I learn and the more I question. One thing that stands out is that when we take a more multi-disciplinary, cross-departmental, cross-industry and cross-cultural approach, that’s when we begin to see that what we know individually is not the answer but we may be part of the solution in a team.
We need to be having conversations with a wide variety of people inside and outside the organisation and then actively contributing and participating in cross-team solutions that don’t copy other companies, don’t follow best practice and don’t do what we’ve always done.
We also need to start thinking about how our employees can start developing themselves for a long-term future – not just for their current job – and in order to do this, we need to be continual and lifelong learners ourselves.
Convoluted and circular arguments and debates that are meaningless to the business and others outside our field are not only losing our credibility but making us drop further behind.
- Difference between c-MOOC and x-MOOC http://blogs.onlineeducation.touro.edu/distinguishing-between-cmoocs-and-xmoocs/
- Ultimate Guide to MOOCs http://moocnewsandreviews.com/ultimate-guide-to-xmoocs-and-cmoocso/