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MOOCs Offer Promise for K-12 Talent Managers

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The New York Times called 2012 the "Year of the MOOC," or Massive Online Open Courses for those of us just learning the lingo. The Society of Human Resource Management recently featured a large article in their August issue on the future of MOOCs. And, the headline of an article in TIME Magazine last year asked, "Will Massive, Open Online Courses Revolutionize Higher Education?" Even Gallup is asking university presidents and faculty across the United States for their views on the issue.

MOOCs have been gaining in popularity over the past three years. These massive online courses are usually free; do not count for college or university credit; cover a wide range of topics; and are available to a large population. View a comprehensive list of MOOCs here.

A variety of surveys conducted in recent years have asked individuals and organizations interfacing with MOOCs to share their thoughts and perceptions. Here is a sampling of these results:

• According to the 2012 Survey of Online Learning by Babson Survey Research group, more than 6.7 million students took at least one online course during the fall 2011 term, an increase of 570,000 students over the previous year. The survey also revealed that approximately 32 percent of students in higher education take at least one online course during their studies. And, while many are still questioning the quality of online courses, 77 percent of academic leaders rated online education as the same or superior to face-to-face classes, and 69 percent of chief academic leaders say online learning is critical to their long-term strategy.
Further, while only 2.6 percent of higher education institutions were found to have MOOCs at that time, 9.4 percent of respondents to the Survey of Online Learning noted that their institution had MOOCs in the planning stages. Interestingly, academic leaders responding to the survey seemed to be unconvinced that MOOCs "represent a sustainable method for offering online courses" but did say they provide a means for institutions to explore and reflect on online pedagogy.

• In a recent survey of more than 2,250 professors conducted by Gallup and published by Inside Higher Ed, only 20 percent of respondents agreed that "online courses can achieve learning outcomes equivalent to those of in-person course." It is also important to note that only 30 percent of the professors surveyed have even taught an online course, up from 25 percent in 2012. On September 12, Inside Higher Ed will be offering a webinar on these findings. You can sign-up for free here if you are interested in learning more.
• Gallup also partnered with Inside Higher Ed to launch a panel of university and college presidents to track and understand their opinions on important topics and issues facing higher education. Despite the popularity of MOOCs with many students, only three percent of these higher education leaders agreed that MOOCs are a solutions to "improving the learning of all students." At the same time, only two percent said that MOOCs are a solution to "solving the financial challenges college students now face," while 11 percent strongly agree that MOOCs are a solution for "getting superior teachers in front of more students."

So, how could MOOCs impact K-12 talent managers? Perhaps this massive online format could support onboarding opportunities for new staff? Maybe lessons on intellectual property law? A guide to human capital skill development for practitioners? Or, professional learning around new teaching standards? At this point, only time will tell. But, by examining how other individuals or industries are successfully using MOOCs, K-12 talent managers might discover ways to leverage this resource to benefit the growth of educators, staff, and students. In my next post, I will profile a university that is successfully using MOOCs to increase students' access to educational opportunities, improve pedagogy, and foster a love for math.

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