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MOOCs Have Challenges To Overcome In The Corporate Learning: CEO, Simplilearn

"MOOCs have played well in the education sector, but have inherent challenges to overcome if they want to succeed in the corporate sector", says Krishna Kumar, Founder & CEO, Simplilearn

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In an interview with BW Businessworld, Krishna Kumar, Founder & CEO, Simplilearn talks about how the corporate learning space is moving beyond MOOCs, while also highlighting its importance in the education sector.

Tell us about the rise of MOOCs in India, is it still relevant? 

Enrolment in Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) has certainly increased in the recent past. India is among the top countries after the US which is dominating the global uptake of MOOCs, that said the interest in MOOCs has been mostly in the education sector. 

When it comes to corporate learning, however, we see that the need for many of the enterprises in India is around achieving specific outcomes that directly impact the business effectiveness in the long run. This is where MOOCs have not been able to succeed since the inherent flexibility of the programs is lower and it relies on the learners to take the initiative and complete these courses. 

Therefore, in a nutshell, MOOCs have played well in the education sector, but have inherent challenges to overcome if they want to succeed in the corporate sector.

Why are MOOCs no longer preferred by professionals and what has replaced MOOCs?

Physical classroom learning is not a scalable way to learn and train. However, MOOCs cannot completely replace the traditional approach used in classroom teaching model. In India, learning and education are given utmost importance and students at some point look for hand holding and definitely, real-time meaningful interactions. It is evident that MOOCs are facing a huge disadvantage in building the connect with learners which is one of the prime factors that contribute to course completion rates at a practical level. 

Simplilearn foresees a future where it will be difficult for MOOCs to sustain growth in this segment with cookie-cutter courses. In this scenario, high engagement methods leveraging a blended approach have shown many strong results. Blended models have easily been able to deliver more than 70 per cent course completion rates and are able to deliver transformative corporate outcomes in a more effective manner. Additionally, every enterprise is different and as a result, the ability to customize the learning projects and even the curriculum contents are a big part of driving greater engagement, relevance and outcomes for these enterprises. By taking the classrooms virtual, the best instructors and mentors can be leveraged globally to drive the best learning outcomes. These are some reasons that reinforce the blended high engagement model as a better fit for professional education and will continue to grow and thrive in the Indian context.

Was Simplilearn ever a part of the MOOC revolution? If not, why? 

We have always kept in mind the Indian cultural mindset and comfort of having someone help us or support us as we climb every step in our journey. As a result, we believe that the best way to upskill includes self-learning, a mentor-led live virtual class and industry grade projects to hone your practical skills. Additionally, our vibrant community of experts and certified professionals is a powerful resource pool of tips, tricks, and insightful advice. While the e-learning industry has an average course completion rate of only 10 percent, Simplilearn has a course completion rate of 67 percent.

India being a cost-sensitive country, does staying away from MOOCs has an impact on the brand reach?

While India is indeed a cost-sensitive country, however, we have found that to achieve transformative learning, the learner community is willing to invest the money required to get transformative learning. This is owing to the market appetite, professional’s interest to grow his/ her career, the requirement of businesses emphasizing on the need to upskill and stay relevant for the jobs of the future.  As an example: Salaries for entry-level data scientists range from Rs. 8L to 15L. With a course cost that is a mere fraction of this reward, the learner is able to upskill themselves while being taught by world-class mentors and instructors. On the other hand, learning from a MOOC has lower chances of being completed, and hence the outcomes are left to the motivation levels of a learner who has a day job as well. 

What did Simplilearn as a brand gain out of staying away from MOOCs? 

Not having MOOCs as our primary focus has only enabled us to focus on innovating other, more optimum ways to upskill and to introduce high-quality training content for corporate and individual learners. We have achieved multiple milestones in the recent past which required our undivided dedication and hard work. Recently, we were named among the Top 20 Online Learning Library Companies of 2017 by Training Industry, Inc. particularly recognising our library of more than 400 courses, spanning the disciplines of big data, analytics, digital marketing, cloud computing, DevOps, project management and cybersecurity, as well as other niche categories including Salesforce, Lean Six Sigma and data science. 

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