Three Brandon Hall Awards and Some Big Business Impact: Microsoft MOOC Update

Posted by Intrepid Learning on September 21, 2015

3 Brandon Hall awards

We were delighted to learn that our innovative work with Microsoft on their Sales Enablement MOOC program has been awarded three Brandon Hall Group Excellence in Learning Awards, and thought we’d take this opportunity to update you on that initative’s progress and impact since we last talked about it during our webinar in March. (Which you can watch here if you missed it.)

And, to share a couple things we learned about what didn’t work along the way.

First the upshot: Microsoft’s sales enablement MOOCs program is going gangbusters, with real and exciting sales results.

This sales enablement program delivered on Intrepid Learning's technology is one of the highest rated and most engaging our Sales and Marketing Readiness Group (SMSGR) has ever seen. Period. I've never seen so much buzz at the senior levels about a learning technology.


- Chris Pirie, SMSGR General Manager, Microsoft


This program was designed to support Microsoft’s cloud-first mobile-first business transformation, and do so at the pace of modern business. The first two courses, Business Acumen and Financial Strategy for Sellers, and Business Model Innovation (both with executive education content from global business school INSEAD), have now been run with multiple cohorts. The third course, Selling to the C-Suite (with content from Wharton) will start running in January 2016.



Global reach image Pilot course Q4 2014



And the program is already seeing results, with learners able to apply what they learned online one day in the field the next—for example, a $20+ million deal in Russia and a competitive win in Egypt were directly attributed, by both learners and leadership, to new skills just learned in the Sales Enablement MOOC courses.

The pilot course’s astonishingly high completion rates and learner satisfaction ratings have been sustained throughout the year, even after the bar for course completion was raised.


83% completion rate image The average across all courses and cohorts as of August 2015 is 83% completion.


And the learner satisfaction rates have remained equally robust. In fact, the learners have been this program’s most successful recruitment mechanism, creating buzz and evangelizing among their peers without being asked. That’s why the pilot course went from a targeted 500 nominated sellers to over 1,000 on the waiting list—beta testers from Microsoft were so excited about their learning experience that they created their own ‘why you should take this course’ PowerPoints and sent them to their coworkers.

Microsoft's sellers are learning from each other in more and more ways. Microsoft has been an early adopter of our Project Peer Review feature, in which learners are assigned to review a colleague’s final project and give a rating and feedback on its efficacy as part of their own requirements for passing the course. This deepens the peer-to-peer learning and tapping of instutional wisdom even more, fulfilling the promise of truly modern online learning to bring learners together in meaningful, and immediately useful, ways.


Peer Review Screenshot Project Peer Review



The learners have also been teaching our team about what does and doesn’t fly with a highly demanding, time-starved global sales audience. For instance, we learned:

1) If you include points and badges in your course, you have to be up front and clear about the rules of the game—stating exactly how many points and badges are available, and how they can be earned. No surprises! Because a highly motivated, competitve audience like elite salespeople, really care about their points and badges.

Badges screenshot

We also learned that if there’s any lag time between completing an activity in the course and seeing those points reflected in the Leaderboard, you will have upset sellers on the phone asking where their 5 points are.

2) If you release all content for a multi-week MOOC at once, learners drop off after initial exploration. But, if you do a timed release of content and set weekly expectations and deadlines (with reminders and bonus points for early completion—again, well-designed gamification really does work) then learner engagement can be sustained over a longer period of time.

Freshness is also key, keeping it “live” and changing through things like curated discussion posts, new content resource links, video Q&A, and active moderation, so learners feel like they are entering a living, breathing course, not a static old-fashioned e-learning world.


Curated Content screenshot (L) Curated word cloud of the most popular answers to a discussion forum question. (R) INSEAD's Professor Zemsky answering discussion forum questions from the previous week.



3) It’s hard to hit the mark for a dispersed audience when it comes to assigned offline work. Some of our learners clamored for a full offline text they could really dig into, in addition to the online course content. So we assigned several chapters of extra reading. And we heard back from other learners a resounding “too much reading!” A good example of the need to keep asking for feedback and keep adjusting.

Intrepid’s Sanjay Advani and Microsoft’s Hilary Albert (program owner for the Sales Enablement MOOCs) will be sharing more learnings, tips for how to motivate learners to sign up for your courses, and other “secret sauce” ingredients for dynamic time-bound collaborative learning in A Strategy for High-Impact Corporate MOOCs with 85% Completion and 95% Satisfaction” at Training Magazine’s Online Learning Conference 2015 in Denver on October 7th. We hope to see you there!


Online Learning conference info

p.s. For an in-depth look at the business drivers and design and implementation process of this initiative, see the eLearning Guild’s case study “Microsoft’s Corporate MOOC: Transforming Training to Increase Seller Engagement."

p.p.s. If you’re wondering whether your program might benefit from a MOOC model approach, see below. And if you’re considering running your own Corporate MOOC, check out our Business Transformation MOOC Playbook.

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