How much attention should the corporate e-learning world be paying to the latest developments in the world of Education and e-learning – the rapidly arriving MOOC revolution!

There is no doubt that education technologies have had a considerable impact on corporate e-learning market before, but that was mainly the Moodle effect, with an open source education orientated LMS being launched into the corporate e-learning market with considerable success. While this success was initially based on price, quality and innovation soon followed

So what effect will MOOCs have on the corporate L&D e-learning market we ask?

The MOOC model is about to be hugely disruptive in the world of HE in particular, and new business models are emerging as three principle players (the MOOC platform operators) make their moves. In one corner is edX, a not for profit MOOC with many leading US universities investing in this platform, including MIT, Harvard and Berkley and in the other corner are two for profit organisations…Udacity and Courserra….(there are others), but it is on these three competitors that much attention is being focused, as all seem to be moving aggressively to grab market share, monetize and consequently massively disrupt the education market in the process.

The Chronicle of higher education provides useful background to the MOOC market.

All three organisations are making large grabs for universities to join their eco-systems, use their platforms and crucially generate revenues for them. The revenue share models vary platform by platform. The challenge to the established university is what to do…..wait and see, or get into the market by joining one of the three or four established players (the fourth being the Open University MOOC Futurelearn which has 12 UK universities signed up) or of course build their own presence in the market solo or in collaboration, which may be a big ask and maybe a bit late…..

While the revenue models on offer must influence Universities as to which MOOC platform to join, the more crucial challenge to these institutions is the overall “market opportunity” and the “market threat” that MOOCs present.

MOOCs have emerged from the open courseware movement, but are really driven by the need to both reduce student tuition fees and provide much greater flexibility of location of learning and importantly learners and thereby allowing universities to become truly international providers of courses and qualifications. The partnership of edX and Pearson Vue allowing for managed testing worldwide is hugely significant and clearly indicates the aspirations of the highly “branded” universities to exploit their brand worldwide in this new paradigm.

So our question is; How will this competitive education focused innovation spill over into the corporate e-learning market?

We do not believe it is an if, it is a how and when!

But lets briefly consider the why! We would argue that Universities will see a new wave of competition unleashed by MOOCs and many will consider responding by developing new business models themselves exploiting the power of MOOCs, and one could be entering the corporate L&D market in a new and aggressive manner!

Additionally we believe the challenges currently taking place in HE in the UK will stimulate many Universities to look again quite aggressively at the corporate L&D market, and the MOOC platform could provide a very compelling offer to allow a new market to be exploited, which would be much more closely aligned to the needs of business.

There is no doubt that the MOOC offer, if designed correctly could appeal to many organisations, (and learners) offering accredited courses flexibly and cost effectively.

The question remains how and who… who will drive this…the platform operators? the universities? new consortia?  or will technology orientated vendors such as Microsoft, Apple, Google or LinkedIn have a role to play? Will education publishers move into this market, are training providers considering this market?   These are questions that have exercised this blog over many months and years, and as we saw at BETT Microsoft, Apple and Google are battling for domination in education, they have in many ways been instrumental in the emergence of the  MOOC model (think Khan academy and itunes U). Our view is they will have a pivotal role to play in this huge market shift.

We believe that new alliances are likely to form for both education and for the corporate  L&D market…..Kineo and City and Guilds as one being just the beginning of an industry sea change as we enter a hugely disruptive period in both education and corporate L&D, with the barriers between education and training, learning and development crashing down.

When remains to be seen, but soon is the most likely answer. So while the corporate e-learning market focuses on mobile learning and social learning something far more disruptive could be just round the corner