Open learning resources provide anyone with an internet connection the opportunity to learn almost anything they desire without having to worry about a hefty price tag. So why aren’t companies using these resources to augment their professional development programs?
If you want to improve your strategic business skills, the University of Pennsylvania Wharton Business School already provides the foundational courses from their world class MBA program. Schools from all over the globe already provide world class content delivered either as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) or through Open Courseware. Check out MIT OCW and you will get a good idea of how powerful Open Courseware can be.
To refresh your memory, check out these two posts from last year:
So I ask again, why don’t we see or hear about more companies using these resources in their professional programs? If you search for massive open online education on Wikipedia, you come across concepts like open education, connectivism, gamification, and unbundling. Free and open access to educational content is creating amazing possibilities.
Connectivism emphasizes the social and cultural role of learning. It proposes we view knowledge as a network structure and learning as a process of pattern recognition. Open education provides us the opportunity to discover the inherent patterns in our own learning and filter out the unnecessary noise that distracts us from our true goals and intention. Learning is a natural drive in all of us and open education is creating an opportunity for us to re-discover natural patterns in ourselves and our project teams when we learn together.
Another cool concept I hope companies start to adopt is gamification. It is where you apply game design theory and practices to learning. It helps improve motivation, completion rates, and other experiences students have while learning that many times are lacking in the traditional classroom. A fun example of this can be seen in Duolingo’s application of gamification and how it could help your project team’s communication skills.
If we are going to talk about how open learning can help us in our personal learning journeys, why can’t we also apply it to organizational professional development? It seems like a gold mine for project teams. An almost unlimited pool of learning resources available on demand from the world’s best universities and instructors. All you need is caffeine and an internet connection and you could be learning around the clock, 24/7.
So what do you say? Do you want to turn the break room into a student union and the conference room into a lecture hall? After that all you need is a projector, a laptop, and a chalkboard and you are set up for success.
If I told you after earning your PMP, you would be hired in two to four months after receiving your certification, how motivated would you have been to earn your PMP?
What if after earning your Certified Scrum Master (CSM) certification, you earned a job as a scrum master in a company like Autodesk or Google, how motivated would you have been to earn your CSM?
Udacity has taken these ideas one step further and created Nanodegrees. They are accredited by market leading companies like AT&T, Salesforce, and Google who also help create the curriculum. I love this idea because the accreditation of the program is proven in whether or not students are hired. The companies that want to hire the Udacity graduates accredit the curriculum because it is driven by what they need. It sounds so simple and I love it.
I think this is a fantastic idea because it breaks up the learning process into a smaller and scalable approach that adapts with professionals who want to learn but who want to focus on very specific skill sets. Right now Udacity is focusing on the following technical skills:
I am sure though Udacity will continue to expand their curriculum as more employers see the value of this model and help them design new curriculum.
It also reminds me of PMI's approach to certifications where you can be certified in broad areas like program management or very specific skills like business analysis. To continue and adapt though, I wonder if the PMI certifications will have to adapt to different markets and technical skills. It is good to be a general PMP but more valuable if you focus in healthcare, IT, or energy. Apply the same logic to portfolio management or program management and you can see how more specialized knowledge in a market or skill-set combined with a PMP is more valuable.
So I wonder if PMI will start offering PMP's specific for different markets like healthcare or cyber security? Perhaps in the future we will see PMP-H (healthcare) or PfMP-IT or PgMP-E (energy).
The beauty of a Udacity Nanodegree is it shows how powerful self-directed learning can be and how employers are adapting to the evolving need of a talented and growing worldwide workforce that demands the best when it comes to professional development and learning.
What do you think? Is this the beginning of an entirely new way of looking at learning and professional development?