This week, Managing eLearning features a guest post from Lauren Gray, a Marketing Intern at Web Courseworks.

MOOCs are Maturing 

A Massive Open Online Course, otherwise known as a MOOC, provides users with unlimited participation and access via the web by including interactive user forums to support community interactions between the users and the instructors. MOOCs rely on user-generated content to recreate a personalized classroom experience. Social learning is a contributing factor to why MOOCS are successful and one of the reasons they require such a massive audience. The large user-generated audience creates an online discussion portal for users to refer to if they have questions regarding the course. The most important thing that helps students succeed in an online course is interpersonal interaction and support. With the recent boom in popularity for online learning content, MOOCs are maturing from an academic phenomenon to a type of online learning that is being adopted by corporations.

White Paper Case Study: Microsoft’s Corporate MOOC

From the White Paper case study on Microsoft’s Corporate MOOC: Transforming training to increase seller engagement, results show how Microsoft used a MOOC for sales team members to implement training for their new business approach. The results from the study show the incentive of receiving a badge on LinkedIn after completion of the corporate MOOC adds value to the user’s profile and contributes to the company brand. Microsoft is making a shift from generating money through licensing software for PCs to creating revenue through selling devices and advertising for cloud-based subscriptions and traditional licensing. They call this new approach moving from “yesterday” to “tomorrow.”

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Microsoft’s new “yesterday” vs. “tomorrow” business strategy

Cloud-based subscriptions are the new way for users to pay a monthly subscription fee for constant program updates and integrated services rather than buying a new package every few years to update their programs. With this new model in mind, Microsoft found a need to train the sales team to understand this new business strategy as well as educate them with new financial and product knowledge to be marketed to customers.  With the sales team being so large and international, a MOOC is a smart, innovative learning approach to a mass training program that can provide a high-quality and scalable learning solution to the new company model.

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In spite of the relative immaturity of most MOOCs, these opportunities for self-directed and informal online learning are playing an increasingly important role in learning. The Microsoft team wanted an exciting MOOC platform that would provide the users with peer reviews, grading, and badging features upon completion. Microsoft partnered with INSEAD to create their first dynamic MOOC, which included video lectures, contextual discussion forums, peer reviews, and grading systems to increase knowledge for customer planning. The eight week MOOC course provided the sales team with the training necessary for the new direction of the company and a customer plan for future sales.

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Week by week MOOC design

Completion Rate: Academic vs. Corporate

Unlike academic MOOC completion rates, which are usually around 10%, the corporate MOOC designed by Microsoft had an 85% completion rate with a 99% satisfaction rate from users. The reason the completion rate for academic MOOCs is so low may be a result of the lack of incentives provided and long courses offered. The completion rate for the Microsoft MOOC was so high because the company offered incentives and badges on the user’s LinkedIn profile upon completion of the course. The Microsoft MOOC course was offered as an exclusive opportunity to the sales community, and this exclusivity made the MOOC more desirable and valuable because it was not offered to just anyone. The platform for the MOOC that offered gamification, badging, integrated social features, and consumer-grade use experience design led to high user completion rates and learner engagement, which resulted in a positive image for the company brand.

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Gamification and Badging

Learner Engagement

The sales transformation MOOC has enabled Microsoft’s global workforce to engage with and discover one another. The results from this corporate MOOC shows that users participating in a MOOC usually wonder “what’s in it for me?” and LinkedIn badges give an incentive to the user to complete the MOOC and think highly of the brand of the company from which they acquired the badge.

Hear Dr. Jon Aleckson and Dr. Andy Hicken speak on the topic of Corporate MOOCs on Wednesday, September 30th at DevLearn 2015.