Using ‘MOOCs’ to develop your L&D capability for free

How to Develop Learning and Development Capability for Free

Judith Kors

By Judith Kors – July 2015

There is one big paradox that seems to affect a LOT of Learning and Development Managers…whilst they are all working really hard to develop the capabilities of their organisation’s staff, they are rarely (if ever) doing anything to develop their own capabilities!

There appears to be a variety of reasons for this but one big one seems to be a feeling that training budget (especially in a period where organisations are typically spending less on training) should be spent on anyone BUT the people in L&D – indeed, that to spend anything on themselves could lead to accusations of misuse of funds.

So, if the answer to the question “when was the last time I did anything for my own capability development?” is something along the line of “Erm…I can’t remember” it may be that MOOCs, otherwise known as ‘Massive Open Online Courses’, could prove very helpful.

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Of course, before you even get started with such learning, you need to apply the same analysis as you would for the learning and capability requirements for any role within your organisations, by starting with a competency framework and skills needs analysis for your own role, identifying and mapping the specific knowledge and skills you need to be successful.

Each Learning & Development role is, of course, somewhat unique and will therefore have its own specific requirements, however, for most L&D people, the key areas include:

  • Business and learning strategy – i.e. understanding of the difference between operations and strategy
  • Coaching and mentoring skills – Learning & Development managers are often expected to coach and mentor
  • Metrics – Being able to produce the specific quantitative data needed to develop a compelling business case to achieve training budget approval (because a dollar ROI will sway a CEO way more than a list of capability learning outcomes!)
  • Marketing – it’s one thing to put a great training program together but if you can’t get the right people to come along and engage in it, it’s all for nothing!
  • Finance – with understanding the fundamentals of your organisation’s financials it’s impossible to develop programs linked to its strategies and goals
  • Technology – online learning (including MOOCs) is not just an accepted part of modern learning, it’s essential…what are the latest ways of learning and how could you use them?

Once you’ve identified the areas you want to improve in it’s time to find the right MOOC, which, to get started, is as simple as doing a Google search on ‘MOOC Directory’ and then searching in one of the directories for the topic you’re looking for.

There’s been a huge increase in the number available of late and it’s growing all the time so you’re sure to find what you’re looking for. Indeed, there’s so many available now that your problem may well be which one to choose rather than finding one at all, however, many allow user ratings, which obviously helps a fair bit. As with all such things, as they become more mainstream, the better ones will gain more recognition and social media will, no doubt, provide a good platform for recommendations and warnings.

Lastly, be aware that not all MOOCs are free but the majority are and, if you’re careful with your selection, you can gain some fantastic learning (and, in some cases, even a certificate) without making even a tiny dent in your training budget!

ARTICLE WRITERS NEEDED! Do you have something you’d like to contribute to Training Matters? If so, we’d love to hear from you. Please email us at or call 0412 299 181.

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