Should Business Education Be Free?
It’s hardly surprising that the appeal of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) continues to grow. In the United States, the average college student graduates with almost $30,000 in debt, while federal and student loan debt exceeds $1 trillion. More free courses would certainly help lift that costly burden, and I’ve written about the pros and cons of MOOCs from the perspective of institutions of higher learning.
But there’s an equally compelling argument for MOOCs from the perspective of the business world, for fast and efficient partner and customer education. This is particularly true in the technology industry where companies depend on a thriving ecosystem of partners to help develop and implement solutions. Just as important, these companies rely on close partnerships with customers to align development with market needs. Customers need a thorough understanding of new technologies and how to use them for greatest advantage.
To find out more about MOOCs from a business viewpoint, I recently spoke with John Appleby, Global Head of the SAP HANA practice at Bluefin, a long-time SAP partner. Appleby attended the first SAP MOOC, Introduction to Software Development on SAP HANA, earlier this year. Since his responsibilities include building out Bluefin’s HANA offerings, he couldn’t be happier about SAP’s willingness to embrace this new educational model.
“I’ve been pushing SAP to change the way it approaches education from a traditional to digital perspective.
That’s required for the success of SAP, its ecosystem, and for HANA in particular. The level of accessibility
to product managers on the development team has been really powerful to help people understand the technology.
It’s an ideal introductory course for people wanting to develop on HANA.”
Besides attending weekly sessions, completing exams, and providing regular feedback, Appleby also became a vocal course advocate through tweets, Facebook postings, and email activity. “I thought it was important to tell as many people as possible about the course and what it was doing to change education.”
Calling MOOCs are one of the most significant things SAP has done in the past ten years, Appleby thinks that they signal an important shift in how companies like SAP need to educate ecosystems. “Instead of viewing education as a source of revenue, it’s seen as an indirect revenue source. The more people know and understand your product, the more people will buy it.”
Appleby says that the SAP HANA MOOC served as an inspiration for Bluefin’s customer training courses. “It helped shape the direction of our hands-on training program that we intend to take to the market generally.”
Meantime, following the unprecedented success of its first MOOC courses, SAP is more committed than ever to educate developers in this way. Registration is open for the second SAP HANA course, Introduction to the SAP HANA Cloud Platform, which starts on October 28. Developers will learn how to design software and use this enterprise-ready, pre-installed environment in the SAP cloud to deploy and run applications. Participants will receive a free developer trial account to take advantage of the platform from the very first day of the course. And if you missed it the first time, SAP is repeating its first HANA MOOC, Introduction to Software Development on SAP HANA, beginning October 24.
Relief to debt-burdened students is just part of the MOOC equation. Companies have all the right reasons to add MOOCs to educational strategies. Educated customers buy products. It’s really that simple.
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