MOOCs @ Work


(Pic courtesy Wikipedia)

MOOCs have revolutionised the world of education and most Indian learning & development professionals have started taking note of it. While there is in-principle acceptance of MOOCs as an important tool for professional development / executive education, there is lack of clarity on how it can be integrated into workplace learning in India.

To set the context, if you are a product of the Indian education system, you know already that it’s content rich but interaction poor so for an employee to adapt to this new way of learning needs careful orchestration. I have made some attempts to study this subject and experimented with various models of integration. Here are my top 7 recommendations:

1. Upskill your Training / L&D folks

Any new platform or way of working needs evangelism. L&D folks should champion this in the workplace. It becomes critical that they are up to speed on the latest in the world of MOOCs, emerging methodologies & challenges. It makes sense for the L&D folks to actually complete a couple of MOOCs before they start propagating it within their organisations. One website that I recommend is MOOCs News & Reviews for curated resources on courses, reviews, case studies etc. It’s also recommended that they complete some courses on signature track (paid versions which provide a verified certificate). Here’s a course on“Virtual instructions” from the University of California that my team & I are currently pursuing in the signature track.

2. Create Awareness

This is a big next step & would probably consume most of your time. It’s important that employees are educated on MOOCs & their benefits. I recommend that you create a short 30 min starter module.We managed this by getting employees in cohorts of 15-18 in our online learning lab. Typically employees would watch some short videos on MOOC. Here are the ones that we used: What is a MOOC? & Coursera video tourWe also got them to explore sites like Coursera, Udemy Edx first hand.

While there are several MOOC websites, we limited our campaign to the above 3 as too many resources at the start could overwhelm employees. It’s best to allow them to get started and usually employees are smart enough to figure out more platforms as they progress.

3. Ask leaders to endorse

Treat the MOOC integration campaign as any other serious learning solution. Every L&D professional knows that leadership endorsement can be a make or break. Get your leaders to talk about MOOCs and encourage employees to participate and adopt. We did this by getting our CEO to share his views on MOOCs in R&R forums and monthly events. It makes a big difference when your CEO says “Go try this and it will blow your mind”. We also asked all employees to share what courses they are taking on our enterprise social network. The Training functions job here was to just be a keen observer and facilitate the discussions online.

4. Curate & recommend courses

It’s important to be a bit directional at the start of the campaign as employees are still figuring out the MOOC mechanics. We started researching courses and made recommendations to all employee groups. As adoption levels increase and depending on the quality of interactions on your enterprise social network, this can & should get totally crowd-sourced with time. Think of an ideal state as one where your enterprise social network almost becomes the Zomato of learning. One employee asks recommendations for learning a particular skill / knowledge module and another employee recommends. This takes time & continuous effort so L&D must be prepared to play this in the long haul.

5. Push via LMS & Blend

This is something you can consider if tracking & reporting are key expectations. Employees can be scheduled for MOOCs via the LMS & then need to self-report post completion. You could also consider a MOOC with some off-line interaction to increase adoption & arrest dropout rates. Here’s an interview that I did with Moocs news & reviews on the mechanics of blending a MOOC – Blending MOOCs

6. Incorporate MOOCs as part of the continuing education policy

This can provide the required impetus to employees. Most signature tracks on Coursera cost anywhere between $39 – $49. This may not be a huge investment but telling employees that even this will get reimbursed is “putting your money where your mouth is”. This is also a great way of demonstrating an organisations commitment to continuing education beyond the stipulated AICTE approved courses that most Indian organisations limit themselves to.

7. Create an R&R framework for successful MOOC completion

All L&D professionals know that ‘What gets rewarded gets repeated’. It’s a good investment to start rewarding employees who have successfully completed signature tracks on MOOCs. We get our CEO to hand them the certificates & a ‘Thank You’ card in our monthly & quarterly R&R ceremony. What you are rewarding is learning agility & a commitment to life long learning. These are skills that all organisations will pay a premium for.

It’s important to remember that integrating any new learning solution is less of a technology / platform issue but more of a culture / behavior issue. You can always buy the technology but behaviors & cultures need to be built.

As Training / L&D professional, our job is to build. So What are you building?

I would love to hear about any experiments that you are trying with learning at your workplace.

Sunder RamachandranSunder Ramachandran is a highly energetic training leader with extensive experience in building capabilities for large teams in the offshore/outsourcing space. He is currently a Senior Training Manager with JLT Group, one of the world’s largest providers of insurance and employee benefits related advice, brokerage and associated services including an office of over 850 employees in Mumbai, India.

Sunder’s articles on workplace learning have appeared in Indian & International media including The Economic Times, Hindu Business Line, Times Ascent, National HRD Newsletter,,,, Human Capital and His articles can be read at He is passionate about social learning and blogs on the learning experiments that he is leading at

Sunder was a training entrepreneur for five years and has gained valuable experience on both the ‘Buy’ & ‘Sell’ side of the training business.. Connect with him on  LinkedIn and on twitter @sundertrg.



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