What parts of your training program are the most or least effective? When are your employees truly engaged and when are they daydreaming? Which training units/simulations/assessments/employee actions are most associated with learning? How does training influence the success of your employees and your organization? Would you like to be able to answer these questions? According to ASTD’s 2012 State of the Industry Report, in 2011 US organizations spent more than $156 billion on training, averaging just under $1,200 per employee. For that kind of mass, companies want to see some results.

MOOCs (massive open online courses) are currently reshaping the educational and training landscape. In January 2013, the Harvard Business Review blog called “the advent of massively open online classes…the most important technological development of the millennium thus far.” Did you get it? The most important technological development of the millennium so far.

Why are they having such a big impact? The reasons are many and growing. Not only do they offer unprecedented scalability and access and challenge the entrenched notion that content is king, they can also deliver vast amounts of user data. We’re not talking about how long people spend on a particular task or who got what question right; we’re talking about the ability to track and analyze all aspects of the learner experience.

The current model in training analytics is “small data”: data based on reports, evaluations, etc. of a small number of students. But MOOCs can provide data from millions of people, and data is collected at many different levels: the keystroke level, the question level, the learner level, the instructor level, the program level, and even the educational level. the organisation. This “big data” can be used to model student and organizational characteristics and outcomes and, more importantly, to predict future trends and patterns. It can help organizations identify which programs are working and which are not, where additional training is needed, and how best to deliver that training.

In a 2012 report on educational data mining and learning analytics, the US Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology identified several questions that big data can help educators answer. Here are some of them:

  • What sequence of topics is most effective for a specific student? When are students ready to move on to the next topic?
  • What student actions are associated with more learning? What actions indicate satisfaction, engagement, learning progress, etc.?
  • What characteristics of an online learning environment lead to better learning? What will predict student success?
  • When is intervention necessary?

When the entire learning process takes place online, the entire learning process can be tracked and analyzed, and the data generated goes far beyond what is available in a classroom. MOOC students not only watch videos and answer questions, but also interact with each other and with the instructor through discussion forums, social media, blogs, and many other streams, leaving long and rich trails of digital data. This data can reveal trends and patterns that cannot be detected in traditional formats and allows us to go beyond what people are learning and how they are learning. As Coursera co-founder Daphne Koller put it, “The availability of these vast amounts of data gives us insight into how people learn, what they understand, what they don’t understand, what are the factors that make some students understand it.” and others not that are unprecedented, I think, in the realm of education.

This knowledge can be used to enhance both instructor-led training (ILT) and online learning. Here are some important areas where big data from MOOCs can inform training practice:

  • Improving results. This is the obvious one. Of course, the goal of all training is to increase the skills and effectiveness of employees. MOOC data can be analyzed at both the micro and macro levels to improve individual and organizational outcomes.
  • Clustering and relationship mining. These two concepts have to do with discovering relationships between variables. The data can be used in many ways, such as organizing employees with complementary skills into teams and work groups.
  • Large-scale program customization. MOOCs started out as a one-size-fits-all solution, but are rapidly evolving into customizable learning environments tailored to individual learners. In the near future, the learning experience will be optimized individually and in real time.
  • predict future trends. What will be the return on investment (ROI) of your training program? Big data will help organizations predict the impact of training programs on individual, business unit, and organizational success.

Companies already use big data to make decisions about sales, financial services, advertising, risk management, pricing, supply chain management, you name it. But until MOOCs came onto the scene, most organizations were unable to amass enough data to inform decisions about their training programs. Data is now collected from millions of students in virtual corporate and educational classrooms across the Internet.

The field is very new and educators are just beginning to realize the power of having this data available. In a first attempt to quantify this learning experience, Duke recently published a report on Duke’s first MOOC. The results provide information not only about student achievement, but also about their activities and outcomes, motivations and attitudes, and the factors that promote and hinder learning. As more organizations collect, analyze and (in true MOOC spirit) share their data, we will begin to develop new models to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of instruction. Smart companies will use that data to ensure they get the best possible return on investment for their training programs, so they have something to show for that $156 billion.

So now you’re convinced that the learning framework is the way to go and that big data will transform your approach to training, but you don’t know where to start with implementation. Don’t worry, there’s a MOOC for that!

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