As a volunteer Learning Elite judge, I have spent the past three days reviewing the applications, and I want to share an observation:
“In the last 12 months, describe how you have developed your learning and development staff. Also discuss any future development plans.”
Of the five applications I reviewed, only one of them mentioned development for the chief learning officer. For the L&D staff, most of the development was ad hoc and did not appear to be as well thought out as the learning plans for the professionals across the business.
It reminded me of an old saying about the shoe cobbler whose children went to school with no shoes. It’s a long-standing issue that we take care of ourselves and those close to us after everyone else.
So, here’s a question for learning leaders: When was the last time you documented and mapped the specific competencies you need to be successful in your own role? From my perspective, beyond some of the most obvious skills include running learning as a business, adult learning methods, etc., here are key areas to identify skills you need.
Learning Strategy linked to Business Strategy: You need a clear understanding of the difference between strategy and operations. There are great programs offered through universities. In fact, while leading L&D at Booz Allen Hamilton, I attended “Leading Professional Services Firms,” an outstanding program offered in residence, at Harvard Business School.
Metrics: More than Kirkpatrick’s 4 levels, learning leaders not only need to know how to prove the business case for learning, but also how to isolate its full business impact in a manner and language that business leaders will pay attention after the learning solution has been offered.
Coaching: When I was a CLO, leaders expected me to coach them. To truly do it right, I sought out programs and opportunities to learn coaching skills.
Marketing: If you build it and no one comes, there is no impact. Marketing is much more than just communicating the list of learning opportunities available and the schedule of events. The April issue of Chief Learning Officer magazine will feature more information on this topic and so will this blog. In fact, stay tuned, we are going to be releasing an eLearning module compliments of CLO magazine, eLearning Mind and Nelson Cohen Global Consultinglater this year that will guide you through creating an organizational learning and your own personal brand plan.
Finance: Beyond budgets, a clear understanding of how financials work in your organization is critical. How does the company earn revenue? How are margins and profits calculated? How can learning truly positively have a positive financial impact?
Technology: It used to be enough to have a virtual campus with a LMS and some eLearning. This is no longer the case. Now learning leaders need to know about how to leverage mobile learning, track informal learning, social learning, and the newest craze, MOOCs.
Let’s talk about MOOCs, or massive open online courses. It’s featured in this month’sChief Learning Officer magazine, as well as everywhere else, it seems. Optimistically, I set out on my journey to identify some MOOCs that would be helpful to learning leaders. Here are some observations
MOOCs are not a fad. There is a considerable amount being written about MOOCs and how the amount hitting the web is increasing exponentially. The entire concept needs to evolve. I shared my thoughts with Jack Makhlouf, who oversees instructional design and solutions architecture at eLearning Mind and he agreed. “MOOCS directories are the educational classified ads of today,” he told me. “There’s lots of room for improvement. I hope to see more and more specialization and specific application in the MOOC space in the near future.”
We are experiencing a MOOC explosion with everyone quickly jumping in, so for the time being, it will be difficult to disseminate between the good and not-so-good courses. Many of the courses allow users to rate them, and this should help.
Nondegree, academic and professionally based are available. Many result in a certificate. Not all MOOCs are free. Most have some sort of cost associated with them. That said, the old adage “you get what you pay” does not apply. I saw many free offerings that were from reputable universities and have excellent content.
There are several consolidator sites available to search for MOOCs. Do a search and see for yourself which one you feel most comfortable using. They are available as self-paced for anytime access or self-paced with scheduled access. The scheduled courses usually have discussion threads and assignments with deadlines. Many of these begin within the next 30 days, making planning difficult. This supports my observation that MOOC access and finding the right courses needs to evolve.
If you want to gain knowledge from sources from around the world, then MOOCS are a great way to go. There are literally courses available from every corner of the planet and in a multitude of languages. However, I did not find many courses that were offered in multiple languages to ensure consistency to meet specific organizational needs.
MOOCS for Chief Learning Officers
I had hoped to come up with a comprehensive list of MOOCs for CLOs. After conducting multiple searches, I realized the task to be quite daunting, but I did find five to share with you.
These are self-paced, register and complete as you can, courses:
- Leadership, management & entrepreneurship in the 21 Century
- Change and Innovation Management
- Leading Successfully Through Challenges and Obstacles (SoundviewPro)
- Are You Making These 10 Modern Marketing Mistakes in 2015?
- MOOC on MOOCs
The most valuable course I found was the last course on the list, which was a scheduled course from September 2014. Though it is completed, you can still register and participate in the discussion groups. I have written them to see if they are willing to offer it again.
The Bottom Line
MOOCs are here to stay. Once they evolve so they are easier to find and the market consolidates, they are going to be an excellent addition to your learning strategy.
As a CLO, you should take the time to understand MOOCs. If your leaders haven’t been asked about them already, rest assured they will be. Think about how they will be introduced and used in your organization. Will you throw open this massive library, or will you take the time to track and recommend the right ones for people to take? But first, experience MOOCs for yourself.
Have you found a course you believe to be valuable for learning leaders? If so, email me and let me know. I will be sure to include your recommendations in future posts.