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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the potential of using massive open online courses (MOOCs) for employee learning and development in organizational settings by reviewing the literature and examining several cases from a virtual human resource development (HRD) perspective. Design/methodology/approach – To collect information on MOOCs in the workplace, the authors reviewed peer- and non-peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, books, white papers, corporate websites and blogs, and business magazines published between 2008 and 2018. Findings – A total of 18 cases were summarized to present the use of MOOCs in organizational settings for training and development, organizational development, career development, and professional development. For a more in-depth review, three cases were selected and the details were introduced in terms of context, process/progress, and outcomes: McAfee, Rabobank, and Library and Information Science. Practical implications – When organizations decide to use MOOCs for their employee development and learning, practitioners could also establish the selection criteria of MOOCs for specific purposes based on their organizational contexts by assessing the effectiveness of existing MOOC programs. Originality/value – This study highlights the use of MOOCs in organizations to examine their potential as a support tool for virtual HRD to facilitate employee learning and development in the workplace.
This study attempted to explore the potential and benefits of MOOCs for employee learning and development in organizational settings by closely examining 18 cases that have used MOOCs to train their employees. These cases revealed that MOOCs can be used for multiple purposes in organizations, including T&D, OD, CD, and PD. In particular, three companies created desirable outcomes (e.g. enhancing employees’ satisfaction, improving job performance and business outcomes, or reducing training costs) after adopting MOOCs.
Given the success of MOOCs in educational settings, the uses and potential of MOOCs have been discussed extensively for T&D purposes in corporate settings (Beigi et al., 2015). As shown n this case study, several large companies have enjoyed the benefits of MOOCs in T&D-related fields because of the ability of MOOCs to reach out to a large number of employees around the world. This capability was previously unavailable, but MOOCs have allowed employees to access cost-effective, world-class education (Billsberry, 2013).
Our study also revealed that the opportunities of MOOCs are not limited to only T&D, but also include other important arenas of HRD such as OD and CD. For example, Microsoft utilized MOOCs to facilitate transformative organizational changes when the CEO initiated innovations for its corporate business models and strategies. Axis Bank took advantage of MOOCs to overcome employee retention challenges and for talent management. Rabobank was also able to disseminate corporate knowledge and expertise to the public and build a strong relationship with their customers through MOOCs. In addition, Aquent Gymnasium, a global staffing company, showed how MOOCs can help job seekers benefit from CD by increasing their creative and digital skills. Through the Aquent Gymnasium service, applicants, especially applicants for junior-level positions, who completed the MOOC could create professional and elaborate resumes. Virtual learning and technologies have also increased the possibility of improving organizational effectiveness since they allow employees to share and access knowledge and others’ expertise (Yoon and Lim, 2010).