Published on 2014/02/21

Linking MOOC Completion and Professional Development for Working Adults

AUDIO | Linking MOOC Completion and Professional Development for Working Adults
With LinkedIn’s move to automatically upload MOOC completions to profiles of working adults, professional development is stepping into the spotlight.

The following interview is with Danielle Restivo, head of global programs with LinkedIn. LinkedIn recently partnered with a range of Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) providers to allow students and working professionals to add course completions to their profile. Restivo has kindly taken some time out to expand on this move, and to discuss what it means for the value of ongoing learning for working professionals.

1. For working professionals, what is the value of linking their MOOC completions to their LinkedIn profile?

From our perspective we wanted to provide a way that professionals can really round out their profile by adding their certifications. The value of a LinkedIn profile is that you have it as complete as you possibly can at any given time because you never know when a recruiter might be looking for you — or a potential new client or a potential business partner— and having absolutely every piece of relevant information about you on your profile is going to make the difference between success and potentially missing out on an opportunity.

2. How did your team come up with the idea to bring these two worlds together?

We knew there was growth in MOOCs and we wanted to try this out.

We knew there’s a number of professionals, particularly in North America, who were adding these certifications but having to do so manually and it wasn’t a great system. So we decided to start this pilot program for professionals to have an easy way, as soon as they were finished their certification, to very quickly and simply add it to their profile by partnering with various organizations.

3. Are you finding that employers are looking at MOOC completion as a positive sign for prospective hires, or even for people in their own organization who are looking to move up the corporate ladder?

We believe it’s definitely a factor. It really would vary from position to position. I think there’s two things, as you mentioned.

One, if you do have these certifications, it could mean the difference between you and another candidate. When a recruiter or an HR team is looking for someone to fulfill a role and they’re looking for those certifications, that’s going to be a key item they’re searching for.

Likewise, if you’re working within a company and you’re hoping to move up, it would be important to show you completed those certifications, especially because if it’s a big company, your in-house recruiter will be able to more quickly identify that you’re the type of person that can fulfill that more senior role given that you have those certifications.

4. By partnering with MOOC providers to automate and confirm completion of open courses for working professionals right on their LinkedIn profiles, how is LinkedIn changing the ePortfolio space?

This is really part of our bigger goal to change the way professionals have a professional profile of record. It’s not just the ePortfolio space, but the ability to show every aspect of you as a professional, whether it’s completing a certification, your college or university education [or] courses you’ve taken that are set up for certification.

We really believe that by having all these elements in your profile, you’ll be putting your best foot forward. We’ve also even added the ability to have rich media. So, for example, if you finish a certification and you’ve worked on a project that you’re particularly proud of, you can actually upload that to your profile so that when people visit it, they will be able to see your work firsthand. So, to us, this is all part of that ecosystem of making a profile as dynamic as it possibly can be.

5. Looking at the way open learning is changing professional development, what do you think the future holds for ongoing learning for working professionals?

It’s hard to say, but I think there will maybe be more collaborations.

As we see LinkedIn evolve and professionals sharing the kinds of information including what certifications they have, what their background is, what prospects they’re working on, I could see a time when professionals would be able to find each other all over the world and collaborate on projects in their virtual space.

That’s happening already. I think we could see a lot more of that. Thereby, professionals can learn from each other and learn in an environment that suits them. They can learn from someone from another country around the world. They could gather information that they might not have otherwise had access to. So, I think we’re going to start to see a lot more around collaboration and project-based work that professionals can share.

6. Is there anything you’d like to add about the move to incorporate MOOCs into the online identities of working professionals and how employers are reacting to this change?

I think it really will depend on the company and the employer. The way we look at it is we want to make sure we’ve covered all the bases so that professionals from a variety of different companies can get those opportunities.

I think this will continue to be of interest. We decided to run this as a pilot to see what kind of uptake we got. We’re still determining what kind of uptake it has, but it’s so far been very positive. And, as we see more employers looking for those kinds of certifications, that will only grow.

We really look for our members to tell us if that kind of tool is going to work for them and then, on the other side, we do talk to employers all over the world to ask them what they’re looking for before we come up with any kind of program like this.

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Readers Comments

Eric Csergo 2014/02/21 at 1:27 pm

I don’t really understand what differentiates LinkedIn from the average ePortfolio. The only thing is that LinkedIn has been more successful at turning it into a brand, and making it easier to see other ePortfolios.

Q Carleton 2014/02/21 at 2:47 pm

I’ll add in my two cents as an employer. I always look for evidence that a job candidate has interest in the field they want to enter and that they are able and willing to work hard. When I see that the candidate has finished a credential or even taken a few courses beyond the basic requirements for the job, my opinion of them improves. To me, an in-person course on a campus has the same value as a MOOC. Both show me that the candidate is serious about that particular field or subject — and that’s all I care to know.

Some people will say that an on-campus course shows more dedication than a MOOC, because the person has to make the time to go to campus and pay to do the course. To me, maybe the person who chooses the MOOC has less disposable income to spend on higher education, or has to take care of children and can’t go to a campus every week. Who am I to fault someone for not having money or having life responsibilities? These things wouldn’t make them any less valuable as an employee. I think more employers need to adopt this type of thinking so that we don’t unnecessarily limit the candidate pool when we’re looking to fill positions.

Patricia Lawrence 2014/02/21 at 4:44 pm

I’m impressed with the way LinkedIn has innovated ePortfolios, with features such as badges and having colleagues (not just bosses) endorse your skills. This shows a shift in thinking about people, no longer as simply a product of the institution they attended (and whatever associations you make with its brand). but as well-rounded individuals whose abilities go beyond what is stated in their credentials or job titles. The next area of growth I see is in providing opportunities for people to demonstrate ability. LinkedIn is already looking at this, by offering people the opportunity to upload work or projects they are proud of. This still isn’t one of their most popular features, but I could see it growing in the near future.

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