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MOOCs at work – the changing approach to professional development

This paper examines the influence that MOOCs are having on the increasing number of partnerships developing between universities and corporations interested in enhancing employment opportunities for new graduates and professional development for existing employees

Although limited research currently exists in describing the role of MOOCs in professional work settings, reports from industry and the popular press are beginning to emerge about the rise of corporate MOOCs.

Using their recent experience in developing a MOOC in partnership with BNY Mellon in New York, the authors of this paper will describe the benefits, limitations, and future direction MOOCs have in disrupting and challenging current work place training.

A recent surge in the availability of work related MOOCs has seen a number of higher education institutions team up with some of the world’s leading corporations to deliver authentic and highly valued learning opportunities to students across the world (Marketwired, 2015). Given that MOOCs provide collaborative, flexible, and just-in-time learning, they are increasingly being viewed as valuable and economical learning opportunities by businesses interested in providing professional development training to existing and prospective staff. (Ferriman, 2015).

For students, particularly those with less education and working in low to middle income jobs., MOOCs are seen as an inexpensive option when compared to the rising cost of formal tuition. (Santandreu Calonge, 2016). In addition to this, the flexibility and the reduced study time required to complete a MOOC mean that they have become an increasingly popular option for many of today’s students who combine study with either part time or full time work.

Drawing on the authors recent experience in developing a MOOC with a US based finance corporation through Coursera’s Global Initiative Scheme, this paper will describe how MOOCs are not only being used to upskill existing staff, but to address the skills gap shortage currently identified by recent graduates throughout the world (Belkin, 2015).  The authors will share their experience in; working with industry based subject matter experts to provide contextual content, the challenges associated with dealing with copyright and intellectual property laws across multiple jurisdictions, examples of some of the authentic learning activities developed and the feedback received from all involved – industry partners, the University, Coursera and the students enrolled.