Thursday, March 26, 2015

MOOC Evaluation at Harbinger

Base Camp is a ritual that is followed every year at Harbinger. This year, we formed six teams, each taking a project related to Harbinger operations / roadmap. Our team got an opportunity to work on the project - “Learning culture at Harbinger.” It was about researching on how learning happens at Harbinger and suggest steps to build the learning culture.

We started with interviewing various people to understand how people at various levels and experiences learn. To our surprise most of the people preferred on-the-job learning and self-learning, instead of classroom trainings. They also learnt things that were mostly relevant to them at that moment. To support this learning culture, we brainstormed and finalized that having access to a MOOC was a good solution for us. We decided to evaluate different MOOCs to identify the most effective and relevant MOOC, as an eco-system for supporting the learning culture in Harbinger Group, to enable and empower every employee – Learning anything, anytime, anywhere.

We followed the below process to evaluate and select scientifically and democratically, the best MOOC system suitable for us.

Initially we did search on most popular MOOCs available and shortlisted two of them for a trial setup. We selected a group of 50 volunteers (employees), with diverse functions and technology background. These volunteers underwent multiple courses during a span of 3 weeks. After the trial the survey brought up very interesting results:
  • The volunteers took great interest in taking the courses. They did not limit themselves to 1 or 2 courses but experienced many more courses in various domains.
  • Overall they found the quality of both the MOOCs and its usage experience equally enriching.
  • The most engrossing courses not only had videos but good reference material and exercises.
  • Many employees were able to apply the learn knowledge immediately in their ongoing projects or activities.
Overall we had a great participation from the employees. We realized that MOOCs in corporate learning is definitely a must to consider where people like to learn continuously based on their requirements and interests, rather than a learning environment controlled by the managers.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Three Things Learning Practitioners Can Learn from the Open Source Community

As I listened to the TED Radio Hour “What is Original?” I kept wondering what originality really means in today’s age of building on top of what is already there.

Back in the early days of modern science, the scientific method was new, and you could discover new scientific truths by observation – in your backyard, or in a home laboratory. Even in those times, getting together with other like-minded people in a cafeteria was a ritual frequented by the scientists.

Today, we live in an age of endless sampling and borrowing. Virtually everything we build is based on the work of those who came before us.

So, what can we, as learning practitioners, learn from the open source community?

For one thing, not every piece of content has to be an original creation. If there were a way of openly sharing small pieces of content for repurposing and reuse, with due acknowledgement to the author, it would help build high quality curricula faster.

We could evolve standards for learning technology together, making it easier for systems to interoperate and exchange data.  When Elon Musk decided to give away Tesla’s patents, he did precisely this – he diffused proprietary knowledge into the broader industry so that as the ecosystem grows, Tesla in turn gets further ahead.  While this appears to be philanthropy, it is sound strategy.

And finally, we could celebrate new ways of contextualizing existing pieces of knowledge. For example, e-learning developers could openly share learning interactions built for teaching core concepts, and others could modify those interactions to illustrate specific applications of those concepts.

Open source community boasts of several collective accomplishments in the field of software. There is no reason learning professionals cannot repeat that success in education. Or is there?

Inspired by TED Radio Hour “What is Original?” Part IV (18 min)