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Do MOOCs make or break a job application?


I wrote recently about some of the things that might transform MOOCs from something that their core market love and adore to something that the sections of society that could gain tremendously from MOOCs but thus far are not.  One of the main things that I think MOOCs need to do better in order to cross that chasm is show the value of themselves better to employers.  I mentioned in the post how valuable it would be to easily be able to place completed MOOCs on your LinkedIn profile or your oDesk page as a means of showing your knowledge.

Of course, the flip side of all that is that organizations need to value the output of a MOOC when it comes to hiring someone.  A new study published recently by Duke University suggests that the time may be fast approaching where that is the case.  The study claims to be the first of its kind to explore just how employers feel about MOOCs, and indeed how much they actually know about them.

The study saw around 400 employers in North Carolina quizzed on their MOOC knowledge, with some fascinating findings emerging.

For instance, across the entire sample, the number of companies that had even heard of MOOCs was very low (33%), suggesting there is still a long way to go in advertising and raising awareness of what they are and what they offer.  The highest level of awareness was perhaps not surprisingly in education, but even there the awareness was a pretty low 50%.

With this low baseline, it was perhaps not that surprising that just one of the 400 companies sampled had used MOOCs as part of their recruitment strategy, with another claiming they are planning to do so.  On a slightly more positive note, 57% revealed that they could potentially see MOOCs forming part of their recruitment in future, with the most receptive industries being business and communications, and manufacturing.  The luddites in this instance could be found in healthcare, public administration and finance.

The study went on to reveal that whilst the majority of companies regarded MOOCs in a positive light, most were also of the opinion that they were no replacement for more traditional qualifications.  This is perhaps to be expected given the relatively low figures for awareness, but respondents did reveal that participation in MOOCs did highlight the motivation of the candidate to learn and develop their skills.

This then led into a positive response from participants when asked whether they would consider using MOOCs for employee professional development, with over 80% revealing that they would do so.

The study provides a welcome reality check to the work still required by the MOOC providers to get the courses much more widely accepted than they currently are.

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