The Boom of MOOCs
Since 2011, the largest provider of Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, has gained 4 million subscribers worldwide, securing over $65 million in funding. Today, Coursera holds 47% of the market share as new competitors flood the space. MOOCs are booming now more than ever before, in part as a response to soaring education costs, declining state funding for public universities, and in favor or flexibility.
Employer Attitudes towards MOOCs
Bainbridge’s Education Practice Group surveyed over 300 Human Resource professionals at all levels of authority and experience across the U.S. to uncover the reception of MOOCs in the workplace. Spanning over 20 different industries, the survey focused on HR professionals’ awareness of MOOCs, their attitudes on MOOC credibility, the influence of MOOCs on a candidate’s hiring, and their attitude toward the potential role of MOOCs in their organizations.
1 in 3 Human Resource Professionals are aware of MOOCs. Among the most recognizable brands in massive open online courseware providers, Udacity, Coursera, Udemy, and edX are the most familiar, in descending order of visibility by HR professionals. The survey found that awareness of MOOCs by HR professionals correlated with age. In fact, the younger the respondent was, the more likely he or she was to be familiar with MOOCs. The survey also found that companies who spend between $1,000 and $2,500 on employee development per employee tend to be more aware of MOOCs. Additionally, MOOCs were more visible to respondents as their education level grew.
Completing a MOOC course positively impacts your hiring desirability. The Bainbridge Education Practice Group survey found that HR professionals are increasingly noticing MOOC experience on candidate resumes, with 54% of respondents claiming to “sometimes” or “often” notice MOOC experience. More importantly, the majority of HR professionals perceived MOOC experience as a positive influencer when considering whether or not to hire a candidate. Also, the validity of MOOC certification seems to be positively received by hiring professionals, though there is some concern about course quality. 39% of respondents who were familiar with MOOCs revealed they had enrolled in a MOOC course, with a third claiming to have completed the course. In good news for MOOC providers, 84% of HR professionals aware of MOOCs would consider enrolling in a course within the next year.
HR professionals overwhelmingly feel that MOOCs could be useful in their organization. When considering the value proposition of MOOCs, HR professionals surveyed overwhelmingly agreed that MOOCs could be a cost-saving measure for their company when faced with the challenge of finding job candidates with hard skills matching company requirements. 68% of all respondents, including those previously unfamiliar with MOOCs, claimed MOOCs could be useful in their company though companies with fewer than 100 employees appear less interested in their utilization. Employee development was overwhelmingly identified as an area where MOOCs could be beneficial, with candidate selection and new hire onboarding ranking a distant second and third.
HR professionals surveyed also identified cost as the largest potential obstacle in MOOC adoption by their organization. Nonetheless, companies that spent more than $500 per employee on training overwhelmingly saw benefits to MOOCs. Additionally, MOOC use was drastically larger for companies spending over $1,000 per employee per year on training and in companies with between 50-499 employees.
Opportunities for MOOCs
The positive reception of MOOCs in the workplace presents tremendous opportunities. Professional validation of MOOCs will likely continue to grow as awareness of and interest in their use correlates with younger HR professionals. We can expect that organizational usage of the courseware will also rise as many companies are already seeing big value for this tool when considering employee development.
The survey also raised some concerns regarding MOOCs in the workplace and it is possible providers may need to alter their product messaging. Cost savings was viewed as a likely benefit of MOOC use, but HR professionals also listed cost as the most probable obstacle in their adoption of MOOCs. MOOCs may therefore need to better communicate the return on investment to employers in order to encourage further increases in adoption.