MOOCs put a new spin on professional development

MOOCs can bring agility and efficiency to enterprise IT training and skills development

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Massive open online courses, or MOOCs, bring to enterprise training and professional development some of the same qualities that companies seek in their IT systems and infrastructure: agility, efficiency and cost effectiveness.

As companies undergo digital transformations – deploying mobile, cloud, analytics and sensor technologies, to name a few – they’re having to rethink traditional IT roles and responsibilities. There’s pressure on IT departments to deliver new capabilities faster, which means IT training and skills development has to happen faster, says Karsten Scherer, global analyst relations lead at IT staffing and talent management provider TEKsystems. Training methods that were valid and effective 15 years ago aren’t going to cut it.

"The opinion of businesses regarding online courses has shifted a lot over the last several years," Scherer says. Companies used to question if online courses were legitimate, but the pressure to be more agile is changing the way they educate their employees. "They're actively looking for partnership opportunities with MOOCs or encouraging their employees to leverage them," he says. 

At the same time, MOOCs have matured, emerging as a valid platform for enterprise training, continuing education and professional development. They’re not perfect – benefits such as cost-effectiveness and convenience can be offset by poor completion rates and difficulty validating course quality and authenticating users. But the IT industry changes quickly, and MOOCs often can tackle cutting-edge technology topics more easily than traditional classroom training or degree programs.

“We’re just at the beginning of realizing the full potential of online learning. Today’s workplace demands an ever-changing skillset, and for most working adults, it’s unrealistic and too expensive to go back to school full-time,” says Gregory Boutte, vice president of content at online learning marketplace Udemy, which is focused on skills-based learning taught by experts in the field.

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