MOOCs and Enterprise Learning – The Promise and the Gap

It appears some enterprises are taking notice of the promise of MOOCs. Here are some recent developments in this space.

1. AT&T has partnered with Udacity and Georgia Institute of Technology to offer a Master of Science Degree in Computer Science. This is a great strategy to build a talent pipeline for ATT. According to a blog update from AT&T, “As part of our commitment, AT&T will tap into the pilot program to further develop our own employees as well as recruit graduates. In addition, we will provide technical support, connectivity and, where appropriate, guest instructors, curriculum content and internships.”

2. Tenaris, a steel company that caters to the energy industry, is implementing a MOOC for 27,000 employees worldwide using the edX MOOC platform. edX will be building a bunch of courses specifically for Tenaris employees and some of these courses will be made available to the outside world as well through the edX platform.

3. openSAP is a MOOC that SAP has created to deliver a range of free courses on SAP tools and products. This is the clearly a use case that will be applicable for most of the large technology companies. For example Microsoft already has variety of options for delivering free  and paid online courses but they are yet to embrace the MOOC model completely.

4. As I had highlighted before, Udemy had figured our very early that there is money to be made in taking the MOOC model to corporates. They have a product called UFO (Udemy for Organizations) that allows enterprises to have private MOOCs with their own content catalog which can then be supplemented by thousands of courses that Udemy already has in its open platform. Udemy has listed Oracle, 1800 Flowers, PitneyBowes as customers.

5. Bank of America has partnered with Khan Academy to deliver useful courses for its customers on topics pertaining to practical financial literacy (in other words financial products that BoA will eventually sell you). This is  a nice way to promote the brand and wouldn’t qualify as enterprise MOOC case study to deliver employee training.

While all of the above examples are promising, the market for Enterprise MOOCs is nascent and Enterprise Learning departments are waiting and watching. There are a lot of unanswered questions that need clarity before we will see any major growth in MOOC adoption among enterprises. Some of these challenges include:

1. Lack of standards that will allow you to author content once and use any MOOC platform (equivalent to SCORM) makes it  a risky proposition. What if your MOOC platform vendor goes bust?

2. I am not sure how the existing investments in creating interactive courses can be leveraged when a MOOC platform is implemented.

3. MOOCs are not LMSs. MOOCs have the advantage of being a newborn baby as opposed to being a man with a mid-life crisis (referring to the LMS). In other words, MOOCs are designed to be social and interactive while LMSs have added these features as social technologies became more popular. MOOCs also mean massive data streams to contend with.

4. MOOCs in enterprises create a huge problem for the Enterprise Learning department. All of a sudden, the role of the Learning department will be that of content moderators and curators. The central “command and control content authoring model” that is firmly in place should be replaced with a more flexible model that is characteristic of MOOCs with the employee playing a key role not only as consumers of content but also authors of training content (to share their expertise). The Enterprise Learning department requires a dramatic shift in mindset to implement a MOOC based platform and I don’t we are there yet.

Enjoy this cartoon on MOOC by Mitch Moldofsky


Srinivas Krishnaswamy


I love to read and share thoughts on technology, enterprise learning, mobile and any thing cool that impacts enterprises.

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Posted in eLearning, LMS, MOOCs
One comment on “MOOCs and Enterprise Learning – The Promise and the Gap
  1. […] have a long way to go: Finally, all predictions about MOOCs and highly interactive / custom Digital Content deployment (not the ones created using rapid […]

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