Guest Blog written by Jillian Bichanich

I recently took my second Coursera course, “Grow to Greatness: Smart Growth for Private Businesses, Part II,” and am pleased to say that in today’s blog I will be able to cover two topics that both will be helpful for managers of eLearning.  First, another review of a Coursera MOOC.  Second, a review of the topics and ideas covered in this course—all which focus on the people of a business.

I want to start by saying that I think it’s incredibly important for one to try and further his/herself through avenues of professional development.  Especially when these avenues are free to the end user, like this MOOC was, there really isn’t any excuse.  I encourage aspiring managers, and current managers alike, to look into the business courses offered either through Coursera, edX, Udacity, NovoEd, Udemy, or the many other MOOC providers that are out there and see what courses are available for you to continue to improve your techniques and work.  After taking this course, we at Web Courseworks plan to have a small study group of managers review the materials and collaborate to determine ways to improve both processes and managerial skills within the company.  Other companies may want to look at similar processes.

If you haven’t yet read our last blog post, A Review of a Coursera Course, and if you do not yet know what MOOCs (Massive open online courses) are, they are college level courses open to the public for either a minimal fee, or mainly for free. As reviewed in the last post, I gave Coursera four stars in providing high-quality higher education learning online.  I am also glad to announce that it was not just the course on Gamification that set a high bar.  The course on business growth provided by the Darden Graduate School of Business from the University of Virginia was just as informational and interactive.  The lectures were well filmed and the courses were well-designed and well produced.

The content provided in this course was phenomenal and I would definitely recommend it to any managers of eLearning, or managers/entrepreneurs otherwise.  Truth be told, the focus of the course actually lies on entrepreneurs, but I am thoroughly convinced that most, if not all, of the items covered applies to both.

So, what was covered? What pertains to eLearning management?  What can I share with you?

Week one was devoted to the concept that entrepreneurs must grow along with the business.  It talks about the fact that growth requires the right people, and furthermore the right “hiring, training, and retaining of high performance employees.”  Ed Hess, the professor of the course, describes a set of transitions for the entrepreneur (or manager) in the topics of leadership.  What are they?  Well, in matters of leadership, going from a doer, to a manager, to a leader, to a coach/mentor.  Hess talks about learning skills and improving the skills that you have, and using those to then teach others.  You may begin in a position in which you have to keep “doing,” but if the company is successful and finds itself growing, you as a manager need to evolve to do the “leading”.  One must learn to let go and delegate, allow your employees to fail, but continue to give them the tools to succeed.

Week two explains the concept and methods to gain high performance and high employee engagement.  Hess again reiterates the importance of hiring “the right people.”  Whether these employees may be programmers, project managers, or members of your sales team, he highlights that skills are not always the most important thing to take into consideration.  Does the applicant fit into your company culture?  Is he/she positive?  Will the hire help you be positive?  Most importantly, do they want to learn?  If you are going to evolve into a coach/mentor, then you need to be managing people who want to be coached.

Weeks three and four continue to talk about creating a system of growth, one that functions independently only to better the system as a whole.  The units discuss building a senior management team and how much a company can lose when the hiring process isn’t a company focus.  He talks about the need to fear complacency within your team.  He tells us that as a business grows, it needs to change and that you can have high performance players, but not necessarily selfish “stars” because this can destroy the company culture.

So again, I encourage you to participate in this course the next time it is offered through Coursera.  Hess presents case studies of management in nursing facilities,  restaurants, and medical machinery and these same ideas/concepts of growth and change apply to management in eLearning as well.  Coursera continues to provide a quality level of online education, and as members of the eLearning realm, we should reward a company when they can show us “best practice” in many different areas.

Managing eLearning is written by the Blog team at Web Courseworks which includes Jon Aleckson and Jillian Bichanich.  Ideas and concepts are originated and final copy reviewed by Jon Aleckson.