In this post Alex, who looks after workplace learning at FutureLearn, busts some of the myths that you hear a lot about using MOOCs (or as we prefer to say – free online courses) in business.
#1 MOOCs are only for the tech savvy
False. We have a huge range of users on FutureLearn with a range of experience with tech. We’re designed to be as simple and easy to use as possible (and we’re always working on our user experience) so no one needs to miss out on learning. We have learners in their 20s, who’ve grown up surrounded by tech, swapping discussion with learners in their 90s who didn’t.
#2 MOOCs aren’t effective due to their low completion rates
False. While MOOCs are often stated to have low completion rates it often depends entirely on the course and how you assess ‘completion’. Running a cohort of staff through a course together usually results in much higher completion results as people want to keep up with each other.
Even if a course does have a low completion rate it doesn’t necessarily follow that it’s not been useful learning. It might be that someone has got all they need from the course and moved on, or that they’re using it as reference material.
#3 MOOCs don’t provide valuable qualifications
False. We now have programs and more courses resulting in academic credit or professional accreditation from top-tier universities, leading professional bodies and expert organisations. You can even start earning credit to put towards an MBA with us.
Plus you can use our Certificates of Achievement to prove your learning to your employer – demonstrating your commitment and ability. Don’t take our word for it – take Laylo’s, a contracts manager.
#4 Paying to make a MOOC, or paying for certification, doesn’t make sense
False on both counts.
In terms of making a MOOC, if you pay to create one you’ll get a unique, bespoke experience. It might also mean working with top tier universities and experts, or sharing your expertise with a global audience. Plus it can give you access to information about how your staff are learning which can provide useful insights about what people would like to learn more and less of, and how they learn best. You can also take advantage of training employees around the world for less than the cost of traditional, face-to-face training, without compromising on quality.
As for paying for certificates for staff, these can be a great way to reward people for courses they have taken and keep them motivated to keep learning, which is incredibly important as we’ll see from the next myth.
#5 There is no time for online learning in working life
False. In a world where we seem to wake up to new tech and new start ups every morning, no company can afford to rest on its laurels. Companies have struggled, and even failed entirely, because of a failure to learn and adapt. In short: time spent on learning is time well spent and your staff recognise this. We must make time.
That’s why learning must be built into a company culture from the top down – leaders must make it clear they value learning and be active in encouraging employees to learn, especially in the wake of growing skill gaps. You can hear our CEO speak more about this in his recent lecture at the RSA in London.
#6 Online learning is lonely
False. Really false! FutureLearn is built around social learning – on every step of every course you’ll find chances to discuss and debate your course with learners from all over the world. We build discussion into our learning design, working with our university and organisation partners to build prompts for debate into courses.
Plus every course is also led by an educator and mentors who help facilitate discussion and encourage learners along the way. This is because we wholeheartedly believe that learning is best when it’s social. And even those learners not taking part in the discussions, are observing and gaining knowledge from the comments.