Millennials driving the rise of MOOCS

Neil Colquhoun, ‎EMEAR Business Director of Epson’s Visual Instruments Division takes a look at massive open online courses (MOOCS) and explains why businesses should care.

Millennials driving the rise of MOOCS

Why should your business care about MOOCS?

Twenty five years ago we could never have imagined a world where students and employees would enjoy free education with access to world class educators including top professors from leading universities – all from the comfort of their own homes. Today, we can.  Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are offering the possibility of interactive learning from almost anywhere in the world and are set to revolutionise learning. These online courses are designed for larger numbers of students and are accessible to anyone with an internet connection looking to improve their current skills or learn something entirely new.

The increasing popularity of MOOCs has been made possible thanks to the growth in interactive technologies and is transforming higher education and corporate learning with just the click of a button.

According to Futurist Jack Uldrich the future for the offering is bright, “online education and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) will continue to improve. The greatest change will be that students of the future will be able to have classroom courses tailored to their individual learning styles. The days of a single instructor educating an entire classroom in the same way are numbered.”


The ‘Flipped Classroom’

Our digital and global society is transforming the way people learn and what they demand from education. Students expect greater flexibility, more accessibility, increased peer-to-peer collaboration, new digital delivery methods and expanded lifelong learning opportunities. MOOCs cater to these requirements by providing dynamic learning, enhanced student engagement and more interactive discussions. The benefits are obvious and consequently an increasing number of European universities are now turning to MOOCs.

As part of a MOOCs programme, typically students watch short video lectures, complete tests and assignments and participate in discussion groups moderated by professors. The learning model encourages peer-to-peer learning as students often have to provide feedback on each other’s work and are occasionally graded on their level of participation. Students are encouraged to arrange local meetings, or meetups, to continue the discussion offline as well as becoming increasingly responsible for their own learning process. The traditional ‘teacher role’ is also challenged in this model, enabling educators to step away from the traditional ‘front of room’ position to a more collaborative contributor role.

However, MOOCs should not be perceived as a threat to the traditional learning environment.  In fact, forward-thinking higher education institutes across the globe are already exploring ways to leverage the MOOCs format to complement offline learning by switching to the “flipped classroom” model. This is where the typical lecture and homework elements of a course are reversed. In the traditional classroom, the majority of the teaching is focused on lecturing with teachers disseminating information in the shape of a lecture. In the flipped classroom, students complete MOOC video lectures and assignments for homework meaning class time can be reserved for interactive activities and discussions.

New technology plays a vital role in helping to deliver successful MOOCs programmes. A good example is the interactive projector, which allows students to share course documents and amend them in real time from connected devices and through annotations on projected images. Participants are now able to share changes in real-time with students in multiple locations across the globe. With new technology interactive global learning has become a reality.

Educational institutes in Europe are beginning to see the merits of adopting new technology, such as interactive projectors and tablets, with many leading university professors embracing the new technology. Liverpool John Moore’s University in the UK is now using interactive projectors to support the use of multimedia content in lectures. Each projector has wireless connectivity that enables iPads and iPhones to be connected, letting all participants display content.

With MOOCs incorporating a wide range of media, including online videos, interactive visuals, slide decks and reading materials, having access to a projector to display such a variety of content is paramount to the successful delivery of MOOCs. Epson’s projectors with high brightness output are designed to ensure superb image quality and vivid colours across all types of media.


Corporate Learning Revisited

The case for MOOCs in education can also be made for the workplace too. MOOCs are revolutionising workplace training by upskilling employees, lowering the cost of corporate training and building a talent pool of potential hires with core competencies needed by employers, ensuring the workforce remains relevant and competitive. In fact, 70% of corporate training and HR professionals see opportunities to integrate MOOCs into their companies’ learning programmes[1] and 44% of organisations are interested in creating internal courses and curating external ones.[2]

Currently, around 40% of companies across the EU struggle to find employees with the right skills and MOOCs could be one of the solutions to address the EU’s high level of unemployment and skills shortages.[3] Several large companies like the Bank of America are teaming up with leading European universities to offer MOOCs that align with the core competencies needed for specific roles, turning MOOCs into an effective recruitment tool that enables companies to build a potential talent pool and identify job candidates with the right skills.

In addition, MOOCs substantially reduce the cost of corporate training. For example, in the UK the annual employer expenditure on training was approximately £2,550 (just under €3,500) per person trained.[4] When you consider that it costs approximately 100 euros to train an employee with MOOCs, the cost benefits are clear.

Security software company McAfee was struggling with its new-hire orientation, which involved over 80 hours of training. New hires were struggling with the speed of the training, finding it either too fast or too slow, and sales associates were spending valuable time providing training when they could have been closing sales. In response, McAfee turned to MOOCs to save time and money and to enable employees to follow the training at their own pace whilst freeing up their sales staff. The result has been a significant increase in sales and a big reduction in training costs.[5]

MOOCs are not a fleeting trend. The demand for MOOCs is only expected to rise as Millennials – who will make up half of the global workforce by 2020 – place greater importance on learning and development opportunities that make the most of new collaborative technologies.

[1] FutureWorkplace, 2015

[2] FutureWorkplace, 2015

[3] Eurofound’s 3rd European Company Survey

[4] UK Commission’s Employer Skills Survey 2013: UK Results

[5] Forbes, How MOOCs Will Revolutionize Corporate Learning And Development