Monday, February 22, 2016

Will MOOCs replace the LMS?


My apologies, in advance, if I seem rude.  One of my teachers in high school (maybe a few of them, in fact!) said that there is no such thing as a stupid question.  Perhaps this is true in the context of a classroom where if a learner (or group of learners) don't get a concept and they wish to ask a question to disambiguate.  Sometimes the questions we pose also demonstrate our understanding of the basic component that build up our question and hence our question can shine a light on things we've misunderstood and give an opportunity for more knowledgeable others to help us correct misconceptions.

However, this is not the case.  Will MOOCs replace the LMS is a really stupid question. I was reading a post over at YourTrainingEdge that was titled Will MOOCs replace the LMS. I actually came to it thinking that it was a bait-and-switch type of situation because the two aren't comparable. a MOOC is a course (and in the corporate sector I would say that the most likely type of MOOC is the xMOOC), and an LMS is a set of technologies that allow one to build courses, offer them, and track learner progress. An LMS is not a course.

The authors start off (sort of) with explaining that MOOCs and the LMS are not the same, in fact they say "Many trainers confuse LMS with MOOC, which needs to be stopped."  Phew!  Now that takes a load off!  So I continue reading for something enlightening... and I come across this: 

Now let’s see why MOOCs are going to replace LMSs in 2016. MOOCs, in my view, are not only for college students or budding programmers any more. The courses offered from top notch MOOC providers like yourtrainingedge, Coursera, EdX, and Udacity have, until recently, been mainly focused on the academic setting. In addition, all of the main MOOC vendors have developed their classes by means of partnership with renowned and prestigious universities like MIT, UPenn, and Stanford. However, evidences show that academic and students might not be the only user base for the MOOCs.

OK, for me this is a massive facepalm.  Basically what the authors are arguing is that self-paced elearning created by a third party will replace you in-house training. That's perfectly fine.  As a matter of fact it's nothing new!  Companies have been purchasing access to courses on Lynda.com, Microsoft, and SkillSoft for many years now - way before MOOCs came along.  The only narrative that is changing is that of prestige.  The self-paced elearning is, perhaps, not as prestigious because it's developed by your own in-house team, or by some nameless instructional designer at Lynda.  However MOOCs...well...those have the names of big name schools and professors behind them (rolling my eyes).

Listen.  I have no problem with partnering with coursera or universities directly to develop courses specifically for your corporation.  I think it's a fine and dandy idea.  What I really dislike is the repackaging of the old, adding some new luster, and calling it a new and improved product.  Let's be honest about what we're selling and how it differs from what's currently being done.


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