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MOOCs and workplace training


Last week was Learning at Work Week in the UK, and whilst it seems kind of sad that something that should come naturally to any self respecting professional, it nevertheless does provide a reminder of the importance of learning at work.  I’ve written a few times previously about the pleasing shift in how such learning can occur in the modern workplace, with a move away from formal training towards the more employee driven variety.

MOOCs can obviously play a huge role in this process, offering employees the prospect of just-in-time learning that they can access when they need it.  The European Commission have recently released the results from an online survey into workplace learning that reveals the growing acceptance of MOOCs as a means of learning at work.

The survey revealed a number of interesting findings.  It was heartening to read, for instance, that 75% of those surveyed were aware of MOOCs, with roughly 2/3 having actually taken one.

It emerged that the most common subject covered was IT, with web design particularly popular.  This is great news, as the survey also revealed that employers were struggling to find employees with specific IT skills, and that MOOCs could provide a great way of closing that skills gap.  This was particularly emphasized by the news that MOOCs were regarded as the best way of learning these skills, ahead of more traditional vocational and class based training.

Having said that, there was a distinct challenge involved in finding the right course, with respondents revealing difficulties in hunting down the course that would give them the knowledge they desired.

It was also interesting to note that 80% of those respondents that had taken a MOOC had already achieved a degree level education previously, and were interested in the possibility of using MOOCs for obtaining additional certification.  Whilst this devotion to lifelong learning is indeed admirable, it remains unfortunate that MOOCs aren’t gaining traction amongst those without a degree already.

An answer to this challenge may come in the form of the map being developed by the EC to allow those areas requiring skills to locate MOOCs to help provide them with it.  The new site aims to create a map or network featuring the demand for web related skills throughout Europe.  It will then connect people up with MOOCs to help develop the tech capacity in regions where it’s currently lacking.

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