The Corporate MOOC

Can MOOCs be the trigger to fully engage Senior Execs in continuous self-development?

In his speech on my company, Tata Interactive System’s, annual party earlier this year, my CEO, Sanjaya Sharma, when talking about current exciting times and the fast changing landscape of the ed-tech world with the entry of the likes of wearable technology et al, went on to share his experience with one of the latest phenomena in the education world – MOOCs. He reflected on the past couple of decades by stating “… there was a time when I thought of something I wanted to know more about, I ‘googled’ … and now I ‘MOOC’.”

I promptly nodded my head in agreement. The MOOC is no longer only an acronym; it is already a verb.

After a sort of longish journey through a plethora of debates and debacles in the higher ed world, MOOCs are now propping up in the corporate world. Will they work?

Well, it has taken some time to realize that those very characteristics that are unique to a MOOC (their massiveness, openness, connectedness, and their online format) and are not (yet?) working as intended in the academic world could actually find application in the real world.

The corporate world has a large population to train or up-skill; there is almost always a dearth of facilitators; taking time out for training has always been a constraint; and most importantly, there has always been a desire to foster peer-to-peer coaching and learning amongst the corporate learners. So, why not?

With this background, I decided to go back to my white paper on Instructional Design for MOOCs and pondered over whether the same design philosophy that I had chalked out for MOOCs in the higher ed world could also work for the corporate learners.

Meanwhile, Joanna Kori, who has joined us as a Learning Consultant in the UK read my white paper and came back with some constructive feedback, which, in turn, started a series of debates and discussions on the topic. With choices between two extremes—a purely behaviorist approach that xMOOCs (the more popular variety of MOOCs offered by companies such as Coursera, edX et al) tend to follow and the very chaotic and disorganized approach of a cMOOC (connectivist MOOCs pioneered by well-known researcher and theorist George Siemens and his colleagues Stephen Downes and Dave Cormier), both of us agreed on a middle path, albeit slightly tilted toward the connectivist model.

At this point, Sahana Chattopadhyay, my colleague and another experienced ID, joined our discussions, bringing in her vast social media experience gained during her prior tenure as an L&D Consultant and Community Manager.

Charged with extremely valuable inputs from both these ladies, I was finally able to come up with a model –the Fish Tank model – for a corporate MOOC.

mooc-eco for blog

On 6th March 2014, Tata Interactive Systems called for a Webinar to present this model to the outside world including our corporate clients. Interesting comments and questions poured in from the audience, confirming the need to start designing custom MOOCs for corporates.

To know more about how our Corporate MOOC model can be used to engage senior executives in continuous self-development, access the recording of our Webinar at


Wannabe Glasshole!

“Don’t be a Glasshole” said David Kelly, a Training, Learning, and Performance Consultant, at the Learning Technologies show in London, early this year. And you know what? I wannabe just that!glass1

Needless to say, I got the opportunity to try on the Google Glass … umm, only for a minute and half, I admit, but what a minute and half it was! So exhilarating was the experience that it’s taken me a “month and half” to actually get down to penning my memorable “minute and half”!

Wearable technology is the future we all are waiting for, and with Google Glass, one gets the feel of actually carrying (umm … wearing) a computer on your head! So, I wasn’t expecting the experience to be anything less than exhilarating. Surprisingly, while I look upon Google Glass as “the” technology of the future, David says it is only the first, albeit impressive, step in this arena. He envisages wearable technology to take on a much smaller form, perhaps that of a cuff link on the sleeve of your shirt. Wow!

David Kelly is one of the Glass Explorers – individuals exploring the Glass before its public release, and in his session at the Learning Technologies conference, he touched upon the following key points:

  • What is Google Glass?
  • What is the Glass experience like for the user?
  • How do people react to Glass?
  • What doors does Glass open for learning and performance?
  • How are people already using Glass for learning today?

You can get more details on his session at

As regards my own “minute and half” experience with the Glass, my first thought as soon as I wore it was “There’s no glass to look through!”  Instead, the Glass brought up a display just above my normal vision. The display does not interfere with one’s normal vision, and David even narrated to us his driving experience with the Glass on, my own view is that it might take us some time getting used to switching between the two visions.  Other than that, it feels like wearing any standard pair of spectacles in terms of size and weight. The right side arm is thicker and contains the touch pad and the device itself. The Glass is able to recognize voice and so you can either directly command the device by speaking to it or just tap on the right arm to control it.

The screen that was active when I wore the Glass showed some current events such as weather and with only a tap on the right arm, I could move to another screen that brought up Google maps.   Although, I didn’t try this myself but I learned later that a task such as capturing a picture could be accomplished simply by a blink of an eye. How I wish I had more time to explore the Glass!

The Glass, as of now, serves only those functions that can be easily performed by a cell phone, and David’s slide showed the following laundry list:

  • Google Search
  • Navigation
  • Making Calls
  • Video Calls
  • Posting Updates
  • Recording Videos
  • Taking Still Pictures
  • Sending Text Messages
  • Taking Notes

Why would anyone want to buy the Glass then? It’s the experience you get without interrupting the present moment that makes it different, is what David had to say. According to David, the body part that Google Glass impacts most is not your eyes, but your hands … because it frees your hands and that itself opens up a myriad of opportunities for learning and performance support applications including immersive training, performance support, real-time feedback, augmented reality, and high-risk training.

With issues related to privacy and ethics to combat, the Google Glass has a tough path ahead before it can be fully accepted by society. But once accepted, wearable technology would surely have many practical applications in all fields including education!

So, let’s just wait and watch!