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The Use of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in HRD


Researchers in human resource development (HRD) have debated the implications and functions of technology in the area as it has become a dominant impact in every industry, community, and daily life. Virtual HRD, specifically, has caught the considerable interest of scholars because it has aided in resolving individual and organizational difficulties by combining technology into HRD activities (Park, Jeong & Ju, 2018). Several of these publications have discussed how virtual environments may help organizations learn more effectively and promote research via practice in HRD. As a result, this paper examines the findings of two MOOCs articles, their relevance and influence on HRD practice in enterprises, and recommendations for HRD professionals to confront the trend.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are open-access online courses that are either free or low-cost. MOOCs are seen as an intervention in the article, MOOCs in the workplace: an intervention for strategic human resource development, to adopt strategic HRD activities in enterprises. By evaluating the literature and emphasizing practices from a strategic HRD viewpoint, Park, Jeong, & Ju (2021) aimed to investigate the possible use of MOOCs as a strategic instrument for employee learning and development in corporate contexts. Alongside instruction and skill development, the article discusses the possibilities of MOOCs in a larger sense. Park, Jeong, & Ju (2021) believe that organizations might utilize MOOCs to improve desired knowledge and abilities, like building basic understanding to broaden the area of applications and cultivating particular organizational knowledge to obtain a competitive advantage, based on human capital theory. They show how MOOCs may be a solution for employee and organizational development by tying the curriculum to business objectives, using literature and cases from three firms (Tenaris, Microsoft, and Axis Bank).

The article, an evaluation of social learning and learner outcomes in a massive open online course (MOOC): a healthcare sector case study, investigates how and to what degree social media technologies in a MOOC program influence trainee perspectives and results in a workplace HRD intervention. Anderson, Gifford, & Wildman (2020) investigate the connection between the MOOC program, social learning using social media platforms, and learner outcomes. The article implies that social media technologies may help people study more effectively together. Anderson, Gifford, & Wildman (2020) also discovered some unwillingness to deal with the technologies and deteriorating trends of social media involvement during the MOOC. Anderson, Gifford, & Wildman (2020) suggest that a more sophisticated theorization that considers personal and workplace environment is required to describe how learners manage their involvement with social media platforms and the influence of social technology for persistent social media learning in human resource development initiatives.

Significance and Impact on Practice on the practice of HRD in Organizations

MOOCs use computer technology to teach large groups of learners effectively and easily. MOOCs often encompass videos, written content, assignments, assessments, and a platform for instructors and learners to communicate. Zhang, Niu & Long (2019) point out that the innovative educational architecture has helped learners by speeding up and cutting the expense of the learning, and as a result, its popularity has grown rapidly throughout the globe. MOOC providers have explored additional information about the prospective market as the function of MOOCs in the business sector has received increasing attention. According to HR specialists, MOOCs may address a range of corporate goals in several relevant and cost-effective forms (Esfer, S., & Cagiltay, 2018). Training options that are free (or low cost) are appealing, especially to small and medium businesses with restricted finances. As a result, managers and HR professionals are progressively turning to MOOCs for professional development (PD).

Workplace-based MOOCs have grown in popularity in HRD as a tool to teach employees. Businesses use MOOCs to offer their workers the most important skills for their professions in unique, engaging ways that may help PD become more effective (Bickle, Hirudayaraj & Doyle, 2019). MOOCs in the workforce has the potential to improve job competence and creativity. Organizations may use MOOCs to integrate their staff development programs with their company strategy. Learning and development may be an effective strategy for improving and gaining access to human resources. According to Rahimi et al. (2021), MOOCs, for instance, might be integrated with an organization’s business strategy by building internal training programs, thanks to their cost-efficient in nature. In the workplace, MOOCs offer a distinct learning and development framework. Hence, by growing human capital and tying training programs to a company’s business plan, an organization might increase employee performance.


By linking corporate objectives and strategies with MOOCs, practitioners might broaden the duties and functionalities of MOOCs to promote the organization’s growth. MOOCs may be used to prevent difficulties and address challenges in the company, depending on the organizational setting. HRD practitioners should engage with firms and managers to strategize the usage of MOOCs to boost employee engagement and attitudes regarding training and development (Zhang, Niu & Long, 2019). By gaining assistance and access to relevant resources linked to MOOCs, practitioners will be able to deliver additional developmental chances that match the requirements and expectations of their workers. Bickle, Hirudayaraj & Doyle (2019) state that practitioners can present best-case scenarios and instances of MOOCs for workers to illustrate how MOOCs can be used to learn skills. MOOCs may also be used by businesses to strengthen customer service, enhance their brand image, and collaborate with players from other sectors in the economy. For example, in regards to corporate responsibility, corporations might build MOOC programs in collaboration with governments to offer educational prospects and learning materials for underprivileged and minority populations.

Practitioners should design the MOOC selection process to analyze the performance of current MOOC programs for certain objectives depending on their organizational setting when firms opt to utilize current MOOCs for employee development and learning. According to Rahimi et al. (2021), even though companies construct unique MOOCs for their workers, studying and assessing current MOOCs may offer practitioners valuable knowledge about the benefits and problems of utilizing MOOCs before creating and implementing their own. HRD professionals may also design comprehensive learning programs by merging the finest MOOC packages with existing development programs. For instance, practitioners can recognize the advantages and difficulties of individual MOOC alternatives by fully analyzing MOOC courses, bundles, and alternatives and contrasting them to select the most suitable MOOC options to match workers’ requirements.


Scholars have taken a keen interest in virtual HRD since it has benefited in managing personal and organizational problems by using technology in HRD initiatives. Practitioners might show employees best-case situations and MOOC examples to explain how MOOCs can be utilized to gain skills. Organizations may also utilize MOOCs to improve customer service, brand image and cooperation with key players from different industries. By combining the best MOOC packages with current development initiatives, HRD professionals may create entire learning programs.


Anderson, V., Gifford, J., & Wildman, J. (2020). An evaluation of social learning and learner outcomes in a massive open online course (MOOC): a healthcare sector case study. Human Resource Development International, 23(3), 208-237.

Bickle, J. T., Hirudayaraj, M., & Doyle, A. (2019). Social presence theory: Relevance for HRD/VHRD research and practice. Advances in Developing Human Resources21(3), 383-399.

Esfer, S., & Cagiltay, K. (2018). Creating a MOOC portal for workplace learning. In Digital workplace learning (pp. 167-185). Springer, Cham.

Park, S., Jeong, S., & Ju, B. (2018). Employee learning and development in virtual HRD: focusing on MOOCs in the workplace. Industrial and Commercial Training.

Park, S., Jeong, S., & Ju, B. (2021). MOOCs in the workplace: an intervention for strategic human resource development. Human Resource Development International, 24(3), 329-340.

Rahimi, S., Khorasani, A., Rezaeizadeh, M., & Waterworth, J. (2021). The virtual human resource development (VHRD) approach: an integrative literature review. European Journal of Training and Development.

Zhang, J., Niu, Y., & Long, J. (2019, October). Application of MOOCs in China’s Vocational Education and Training: Feasibilities and Difficulties. In Proceedings of the 2019 11th International Conference on Education Technology and Computers (pp. 120-124).


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