One of the privileges of my position as Chief Learning Officer here at Learning Pool (formerly HT2 Labs) is to see how talented learning designers from all over the world approach the task of creating innovative learning experiences like OLXs (Massive Open Online Courses, sometimes also referred to as COOCs – Corporate Open Online Courses).
OLXs are pretty different to a standard piece of corporate eLearning. They are social, open events that ask participants to actively learn by contributing back to the learning experience.
If you’re more used to designing a ‘traditional’ piece of eLearning, this can be a somewhat different kettle of fish (as we say here in the UK). So how do Instructional Designers using Stream LXP (formerly Curatr) approach the design and delivery of a OLX? Is it an event? Is it facilitated? What about content?
I’ve looked at 4 OLXs created by corporate clients, designed in-house by experienced Instructional Designers in Canada, France, UK and USA to see how these teams have approached their takes.
In all cases the designers used the Stream LXP (formerly Curatr) platform, enrolled more than 1000 staff and were seeking to affect some element of cultural change. And, perhaps most crucially, each organisation was hugely pleased with the outcome of having run a corporate OLX.
1. Course Length
At Learning Pool (formerly HT2 Labs) we see OLXs as events – time-limited, cohort-based events. If you buy into this philosophy then the next obvious question is, how long is this event?
We’ve experimented widely with this idea: having tried a somewhat open-ended, year-long OLX; and have also gone to the other extreme, running one OLX that lasted just 48-hours.
On balance we feel that around 4 weeks for a OLX striving to achieve some element of behavioural change is the right length of event.
This notion seemed to ring true with the OLXs we studied:
2. Course Design
The OLXs studied generally went for a straightforward approach to Instructional Design, first introducing the course concept and then breaking down content into topics, with a different topic to be covered each week.
The fundamental of covering one big idea a week seemed to hold good. Which is pretty similar to what we might expect to see from a more ‘traditional’ piece of eLearning; content, organised logically in some sequence, with a call to action.
3. Amount of Content
A very similar approach was taken across all 4 courses. Each ‘level’ (which equated to a week in most cases) tended to have something like 6-10 learning objects. Typically a learning object was a video or an article sourced from the Web.
This means that people will be spending 60-90 minutes a week on a OLX when properly engaged in the activity.
All the participants will have busy “day jobs” so finding the right amount of time for this “extra” work is important and a fair undertaking. It would seem that these companies believe 1 per week, give or take, is appropriate for staff taking part in a OLX.
4. Type of Content
Each OLX studied went for a mixture of content types. The blend was slightly different in each case; 1 used specifically created videos (of staff and executives), another focused on curated content from freely available sources.
But in all cases there was a variety of material sourced from a variety of places, some sourced specifically for the OLX, some existing content and some from the internet:
Our previous opinion that most OLX designers should ‘think in thirds’ for curating content still holds good; a third being material you have used before, a third being content that is freely available and a third that is created specifically for the OLX.
Each OLX we looked at had an active facilitator who was there to encourage and guide.
We’ve previously studied the impact this type of ‘nudge’ can have on participants and it is clear from our research that these nudges do achieve a bump in returning visitors.
A real feature of each OLX was the pre, during and post marketing activity that each completed. The pre-course activities included presentations, notices, and communications with reminders, reminders, reminders!
A range of really creative approaches were used to tease interest, to showcase what was coming and to make it easy to sign up
The overarching element is that it is not enough to think “build it and they will come” it is critical to create a marketing campaign that is appropriate to your audience and will draw them in.
Though the similarities in course design were striking, it is not a cookie-cutter approach. We are not suggesting that one-size-fits-all, but these companies were tacitly agreed that a 4-1-1 design was right for them:
In my next post, I will be using the same cases to suggest a tentative OLX Gap Model which will help you to continuously improve your OLXs.
In the meantime, why not have a read of our case studies for a deeper insight into how our clients are using Stream LXP (formerly Curatr) in their organisations.
Alan started his management training in the 90s before he moved to academia as a Senior Research Fellow at Warwick Business School and Visiting Professor at the University of San Diego.
He founded HT2 Labs in 2001 as a university spin-off business. His roles within HT2 have been many and varied but he has a real passion for helping staff and customers achieve all that is possible with the hope and aspiration that their lives have been a little bit enhanced through the shared experience.
Alan is an avid follower of virtually all sports, particularly cricket, and a believer that one day the good times will return to Nottingham Forest.
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