Over the past few months, I have written about the many benefits of using MOOCs in training programs and have given suggestions on how training and development departments can more effectively incorporate this new training format. In this article, we will look at some of the MOOCs that have been developed specifically for training purposes and business audiences, as well as how some companies are already using these courses as part of their workplace training and development programs.

MOOC for companies and training

Some entrepreneurial startups have recently developed training MOOCs. For now, these are mostly in the tech fields, but the scope is expanding rapidly. Additionally, major MOOC providers now offer a variety of MOOCs targeting a business audience.

  • Aquent Gym. Aquent, a staffing agency for the creative and marketing industries, recently launched Aquent Gymnasium, a MOOC provider offering technology courses for creative professionals. The first course, “Coding for Designers”, is a basic programming course for professional designers that helps them work more effectively with software developers. The next two courses to be offered focus on technologies for web design.
  • The muse. Job search site The Muse has expanded to MOOC. Although the target audience is job seekers, the available courses focus on soft skills that could be used for training, such as “Becoming a Network Master” and “Basic Management.”
  • openSAP. Business management software company SAP offers several MOOCs for developers including “Introduction to Software Development on SAP HANA”, “Introduction to Mobile Solution Development”, and “In-Memory Data Management”.
  • MongoDB. Database company MongoDB offers MOOC training on their database products.
  • Open Education Alliance. Open Education Alliance is a recently announced collaboration between MOOC provider Udacity and companies like Google, Autodesk, AT&T, and NVidia. Each of the participating companies has pledged $ 250,000 for MOOC development to bridge the gap between what students learn at traditional universities and the skills employers seek. The alliance is also working on an alternative accreditation system for free online courses.
  • Academic MOOCs. As part of their ongoing search for a viable business model, Coursera and edX are also participating in the enterprise market. This fall, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania put its first-year MBA courses on Coursera. All courses are eligible for verified certificates through the Signature Track program. MIT also recently announced a plan to develop an XS series on supply chain management on the edX platform. Students who complete all three courses will earn a verified MITx certificate. Finally, Stanford’s NovoED platform hosts a variety of entrepreneurship MOOCs that include courses on leadership, finance, and decision-making. The Stanford Graduate School of Business launched its first MOOC, “Financing Retirement and Pensions,” on the platform this fall.

Examples of how companies use MOOCs

It is difficult to know exactly how many organizations are already using MOOCs and MOOC elements in their training and development programs, but we can point out some prominent examples.

  • McAfee. According to a Forbes Report, the computer security company McAfee recently used a MOOC model to solve one of its main training problems: Its new employee orientation process used to take more than 80 hours and many employees did not complete the process. To address this problem, McAfee “changed the classroom” so that students access content on their own time and use class time for discussions and activities. McAfee said Forbes that the change resulted in both a decrease in training time and an increase in sales.
  • Yahoo! Yahoo! sponsors your employees to earn verified certificates through Coursera’s Signature Track program. According to Patricia Brogan, manager of the Yahoo! Developer Academy, the company partnered with Coursera as a way to encourage employees to continue developing their technical skills so they can apply them in designing and creating innovative new products.
  • JLT Group. JLT insurance company has been using MOOCs as part of its employee training and development at various levels. According to an interview with training manager Sunder Ramachandran, the initiative aims to address the training needs of a diverse, young and changing workforce. So far, JLT employees have participated in Coursera’s “Intro to Speaking,” “Intro to Operations Management,” and a couple of introductory finance courses. According to Ramachandran, JLT has achieved “moderate success” with the program and is experimenting with the use of MOOCs in conjunction with small in-person study groups.

The use of MOOC in corporate and employment education has benefits for everyone. For MOOC providers, training courses are a potential source of revenue, while for organizations they represent a way to deliver more efficient training faster and at lower cost. With initiatives funded by large companies like the Open Education Alliance, we can expect to see more MOOCs developed specifically for training purposes in the near future. And as organizations continue to seek new ways to improve their training and development programs, we will no doubt see more companies choosing the MOOC model. For companies looking for new ways to deliver training, engage employees more meaningfully in the learning process, or offer more flexible and accessible training solutions, now is a good time to consider trying a MOOC.