Work Out Loud: A Blog a Day…Day 2: Fads in L&D

Welcome to Day 2.

As the blog heading says, my blog is L&D from a different perspective. What does that mean – well that means telling it as it is.

Classic case in point – everyone has jumped on the MOOC bandwagon, we have cMOOCs, xMoocs, SPOOCS, SPOCS – now really this has gone too far – MOOCs exist, we know that certain institutions make a good living from them, we also know that they allow people in remote regions to access learning, we know that they have some good content – BUT really…why do we have to develop all these additional acronyms / fads for something that has yet to prove its worth or credibility in a corporate learning environment (by the way if you have a case study to state otherwise please share it).

I for one question that they will ever be successful in corporate learning.  Even their founder put the boots into them a few months ago and stated there was no future.

MOOCs probably have a role to play and most likely are having an impact on some people, but let’s all take one deep breath and have a look at the facts:

1. MOOCs have now been around for years – have they really changed that much in that time?

2. Their enrolments continue to be high yet their non-completions are increasing at an alarming rate

3. Research show that they are more catered to those that are in the higher education sector rather than those that are not

4. Current model not sustainable – Harvard has already gone alone

5. And what about the free course offerings – Brain Surgery for Beginners; How to play the Ukulele – really…

MOOCs are not dead but they are not also  the best thing to happen to learning in years (as some will lead you to believe) – they are no where near making the impact that their founders thought they would – they have a long way to go!

The other new FAD is this developing of lists – Top Ten of this, Tope 100 of that – look at me I made the Top 10 Elearning Pros, look at me, my blog is ranked number 47 in the world – come on people – why do you blog – to make it on a list? Why do you need that big massive badge on your site saying you made some list? You blog because you like to share and tell us what is on your mind? Do you blog for fame? 

Why are we creating competition amongst the profession – we all care and share with each other – we don’t need elitism in our profession. After all L&D people are the most caring and sharing of all – why do I need a badge or counter to tell me how good I am.

Why do I need to know that XX is in the Top 100 lists and further more, why do we need a Top 100 “Elearning” list – why are they special?  We are all in the same business – helping our people achieve – why are we segregating the profession via the promotion of such lists? Why are we placing people in cubicles? You have skills in eLearning – great but you are a learning professional. You have skills in Learning Consultancy – magnificent – but you are a learning professional. Both the eLearning Pro and the L&D Consultant exist for one reason: For the business to achieve its outcomes !

With a bit of licence from Donald Taylor, it is time we moved out of Segregation Ghetto and in to the Embracing Boulevard – we are one – we are L&D.

Till tomorrow – take care…


13 thoughts on “Work Out Loud: A Blog a Day…Day 2: Fads in L&D

  1. Nick says:

    Hi Con – For me the joy of the MOOC is jumping in and trawling the content and resources. It’s not about completing, or even participating… It’s just about ingesting the stuff that’s interesting or that I *need*… I apply the useful stuff in my work… where for my company this is where the value is realised.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Nick – yep I agree and I have done similar – I think we all have at some stage “leeched” the content – BUT my point about them been an effective tool for corporate learning still stands – because no company will pay you or allow you time to create, develop and implement a MOOC just so you employees can trawl and access a few resources – if yes let me know I need an easy job in my twilight years…


  2. Gina says:

    MOOCs do come in for a bit of stick – I have only signed up for one (Futurelearn & University of Henley). In parts it was excellent; in other parts it was too academic & I found I couldn’t relate it back to the real place of work. That said, it would not put me off doing another one. It took commitment – it was 10 weeks – & people openly said they couldn’t commit anymore to the time. Futurelearn said 2 hours per week commitment required – it needed more than that due to the conversations & collaboration taking place. A bit like Twitter, some great learning took place in a non-formal environment. I agree with you about the drop-out rates. However, there are people who do stick with them and get great value from them – they’re not for everyone but they are for some; my thought is, if they get people curious without risk, it’s for the good. The stats, in my opinion, tell me that, at the present time, they’re not right for Corporates but they’re fine if you want to dip your toe in the water of a subject which is of interest.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great response Gina – yep think you are on the money – maybe they are not for me? Maybe they are but I am not giving them much of a chop (you see I can self reflect) but the biggest maybe is Maybe they are just not worth it, especially for Corporate Learning. Let me tell you a little story..
      In my previous role we rolled out a digital show bag as part of promoting L&D in the organisation. Part of the contents for this show bag was a reference to online learning that staff could access in their own time to give them a chance to dip their toes (as you say). I worked tirelessly to curate all the MOOC resources I could find. You know how many people access that curated list….NONE.

      You see average Jo Doe is not interested in MOOCs – maybe you, your colleagues and other people who mix in this digital and social sphere may be – but the “employee at the coal face” sorry but they don’t care nor do they wish to learn how to play the Ukulele.


      • Gina says:

        There will always be people who are curious enough to search and learn about stuff outside of work (& not all of them are L&D’ers) – of course, there are a hell of a lot more who don’t. I absolutely get that nobody accessed the curated learning – in my organisation the result would have probably been the same. I can just hear the troops now saying “why would I want to access it in my own time – the company should be letting me do this at work” …. if that was challenged and they could (which they can) it still would not be accessed. There needs to be a compelling reason – I think curated resource works if it’s relevant to a cohort of learners for a limited time, unfortunately, not to the masses. In my experience a lot of people only value learning if there is a qualification / certification at the end of it. It’s up to us to help encourage a different way of thinking. (Enjoying the blogs, btw)

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for your blog post Con.

    Gee I miss a good MOOC – a cMOOC that is.

    I’ve had really good experiences with a couple of cMOOCs – unforgettable ones that created wonderful connections and brilliant ideas that I have applied in the workplace that created a fervour and excitement about learning. But I have been on some duds too – many I have not completed. However, I use them as curated content. Someone has gone into the effort of curating great resources and videos that can be reused! (Yay!)

    Looking forward to the next blog post.

    Oh by the way, will you sign my manifesto? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen – so lovely to see your comment and why am I not surprised 😉

      You state: “created wonderful connections” via MOOCs – so you saying that without that MOOC you would not have created the connections? Surely with an extensive and elaborate network like yours those connections would have crystallised? Also does the cost of developing MOOCs justify the outcome of “we need to create wonderful connections”?

      In respect to the curated content I agree – this is a powerful benefit but again why can’t those resources be provided on Yammer / Twitter / Share point – why do we need a MOOC to provide curated resources.

      Further to this, why do we also need a leaderboard attached to some of these MOOCs? I don’t want to feel like a failure amongst a group of peers. If I don’t make the Top 10 then I have not managed to keep up with Mary or John, and then people will think that Mary and John are better than me, then my brand / reputation is impacted, then I may as well give it up because no way will anyone listen to what I have to say again , then, then then…

      First change to MOOCS – no more leaderboards !

      In my view I believe we can still achieve the outcome you currently obtain (i.e. curated resources / connections) via other more effective, tested and tried platforms and for some of us, less threatening or judgemental platforms.

      MOOCs will survive but will they be embraced by corporate and/or the masses once the hype (read FAD) wears off ?

      Ta Leme


      • Hi Con – as promised here’s my response..

        Let’s start with leaderboards.

        I don’t think they are really leaderboards, learning is not a competition, not in most MOOCs anyway. On Curatr, which is the only platform that I’ve seen this feature, it’s really an engagement board. It’s not showing who knows the most, nor is it claiming to show who is the best, it’s an indicator of who is participating the most.

        How is this useful?

        Well in a corporate environment I’d say that it could help with talent identification and it highlights to other learners some people who might be able to help them if they have questions etc. I think it’s a little extreme to suggest that people will think less of you if you don’t make the top 10 of a leaderboard in a MOOC. There are no prizes or penalties, only the ones we create in our own heads.

        The other points I’d challenge are around the other ways to achieve the same thing; curating content and creating connections. This is the sort of argument I hear at work a lot, usually from SMEs or IT managers who don’t understand the difference between a list of features and the value of creating an experience. There’s a good reason UX is booming as a discipline.

        As you pointed out Twitter, SharePoint, Email, LinkedIn etc can all be used to share curated content and connect people. But each of them creates a different experience for the users. Each of these experiences will be more, or less relevant to different users in different contexts. I think where MOOCs differ is that they can create a compelling reason to pay close attention to a topic for a specific period of time. By bringing people together like that you increase the chances of meaningful connections.

        We all share so much today that you can dip in and out of social media at any time and you’ll find something interesting. But this abundance makes us complacent and it rarely has context or connects to other relevant content. A MOOC creates a reason to focus, it’s not always a strong reason as the completion rates attest to. But it’s a hook and that makes it a useful tool for corporate learning.

        Yes, corporate L&D mindsets need to change, but it’s not a big leap, it’s really how you frame it. The MOOC label is not helpful because people think it has to conform to all the letters of the acronym. Forget the acronym and think of it as the most weblike elearning experience anyone has come up with to date.

        If I create a learning portal in Sharepoint where I curate content under different topics and create pathways that people can follow loosely, closely or not at all – that’s a learning resource open to the whole organisation. If I then create an experience around that portal, whether it’s live chats, webinars or a blogging carnival over the course of a month, does it become a MOOC? Could it result in a diverse group learning things they wouldn’t have learned before? Could it result in connections that wouldn’t have existed before. Could that result in more people using the portal after the “MOOC”?

        We wrote more about this perspective for the LSG summer forum which you can find here:

        Congratulations on starting such a engaged blog audience in such a short time!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Con, as an author of a blog post that comprises of a list today, I need to comment. I agree; blogs creating competition aren’t for me. However, a post, like mine, signposting people to resources…it’s a list of resource, not a list of people. You need to remember too, for some people they’re just setting foot into this world of digital engagement; without blogs listing the influential and worthy, who do they find who to follow?

    As for MOOCs, I don’t think that a corporate, internal MOOC meets the requirements of a MOOC – they’re unlikely to be either Massive or Open. The principles that sit within them though – networking, collaboration, cooperation, etc – can be supported without adding a MOOC label to an organisation’s offer. The driver for these form of MOOCs is most likely a need to control the information flow…that horse has bolted and almost anything can be found by anyone anywhere at any time. Adding a layer os implied control sticking it into a corporate MOOC does a disservice to MOOCs.

    Promoting, supporting, publicising externally available MOOCS for internal staff? Like Nick says, absolutely.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. pauldrasmussen says:


    You have for me hit the nail on the head about one of the things that annoys me about this industry, the evangelical embracing of the next big thing. Which for the most part usually turns out to not that earth shattering really and doesn’t really change the way things are done. MOOC’s are just for me another example of this. Yeah they have some value in certain situations and contexts and can be a really useful tool, did they or are they going to change L&D forever, not a chance.

    Good to see you posting more by the way. Always good to read your thoughts.


  6. Con, loved your post. It made me think about the value of MOOCs and how they might relate back to corporate learning.

    As I mentioned on Twitter, I wrote a reply post which I must note is my first blog post which I’ve posted outside my normal time. Standard procedure is finish it the night before (which is where I’m at now) and then schedule it to post tomorrow morning with several follow up Tweets. Well, I wanted to respond to your post quicker, it gave me a lot to think about and write about.

    Please excuse if it’s poorly written and there are grammar mistakes, but I’m hoping it expresses my true deep belief in the success MOOCs can bring to the corporation.

    Here’s the post:

    And as far as top ## lists. I agree. While I have to admit I’m a sucker for wanting to be on the list and be high on it, I never am 🙂 It hasn’t change my writing though so I’d say all in all it hasn’t gotten the best of me.

    Stay true to your blog Con, you have a lot of great stuff to share and I can tell from the comments you’ve sparked already, it’ll only get better.


  7. Hi Con –

    Great post!

    Got to get my MOOC two-cents in. Full disclosure, I have never participated in a MOOC. I did however, read some time ago, the article you referenced from Sebastian Thrun ( stating MOOCs are not accomplishing what he had hoped they would accomplish.

    Article quote: “We were on the front pages of newspapers and magazines, and at the same time, I was realizing, we don’t educate people as others wished, or as I wished. We have a lousy product,” (Thrun tells the author). “It was a painful moment.” Turns out he doesn’t even like the term MOOC.”

    I have spoken with quite a few people about the concept of MOOC’s. There is a common thread, in general the courses are not meant for completion. You are supposed to farm what you need and then leave or if you so desire, complete the course. Now, in my opinion I don’t need a MOOC for that – I have YouTube, Twitter, Wikipedia, Quora, and other countless online applications from which to “farm” my materials at my leisure without the structure of MOOC timeline. I have communities, FB, LInkedIn, Twitter, Skype – I think I’m at capacity. Ironically, I’m usuallly the voice saying “Jump on in the waters warm!” but in this case, I can’t find the motivation to put on my swimming suit.

    Regarding lists – I’m okay with lists and being on lists. To some it’s a goal that encourages deeper thinking and innovative writing. People who write just to be on lists, well…most likely they won’t be around for long anyway. Plus, as Nick mentioned, lists can be a foot in the door to gaining readership. Everyone says they write for themselves, but the little devil inside all of us is thrilled when comments are posted or we see a blog post spike. 🙂

    Really enjoying your series BTW. I’ve fallen down the the Con rabbit hole!


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