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Civil Service

The rise of the MOOC - learning in 3D

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Civil Service Learning, More skilled
Dave Martin
Dave Martin

As someone who has been involved in learning and development for 25 years, I genuinely believe it is a lifelong process to which the internet has made an enormous difference by giving us instant access to a mind-boggling store of information.

One of the most exciting innovations in online learning is the introduction of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses).

It may sound like the nickname of a Prohibition-era American gangster, but a MOOC is essentially a free online course that anyone can take part in. Mainly run by leading universities and lecturers, MOOCs have become increasingly popular in recent years, and really make use of the advantages of convenience, interactivity and variety offered by the internet for getting involved in different ways of learning.

When you think about it, the e-learning that most of us have done, effective as much of it can be, is quite two-dimensional. You log on and work your way through the different screens, learning as you go, but without the opportunity to interact with others or ask questions of the course tutors.

mooc graphicWhat’s great about a MOOC is that it adds a whole new dimension to e-learning. You get to connect, and share ideas, with people around the world from different backgrounds, in the public, private and third sectors, and with different levels of experience and knowledge, whether academics, experts, practitioners or novices – and in real time.

This means that you get some of the benefits of a traditional classroom course with those of the online learning community that the MOOC provides.

Try it for yourself

In the first partnership of its kind in the UK, Civil Service Learning has been working with experts in contract management and academics from the University of Southampton to develop our first MOOC, drawing on some of the commercial skills and expertise in the Civil Service, and featuring members of the Crown Commercial Service in course materials.

Contract Management: Building Relationships in Business is relevant to anyone who manages a contract as part of their role or who just wants to know more about how to effectively manage a contract.

Over a period of three weeks, you will cover:

  • relationship fundamentals – what can go right or wrong in business relationships; the rules that govern public and private sector procurement; and how to make sure that what you buy (or sell) is what you and your customer really needs
  • relationship complexities – looking at the complex supply chains and networks that are a feature of many contracts, and learning how to manage the many and various needs of multiple stakeholders
  • what does this mean to you? the final part of the course, bringing the other strands together, using an example scenario to put theory into practice

Exciting opportunity

The beauty of the MOOC is that you can dip into it whenever you want during the three weeks of the course - and you only need to be online for 2 or 3 hours per week. It offers a range of learning aids, videos, articles, QA sessions and facilitated discussions, and gives you the opportunity to share experiences and discuss issues raised by the course with people in the UK and beyond, as well as with the course leaders.

Good commercial and contract management skills are essential to providing high-quality public services, and improving capability in this area is one of the four top priorities in the Civil Service Capabilities Plan. The MOOC offers an exciting opportunity to better understand how to get the most from suppliers, the best deal for taxpayers, and make good commercial decisions.

Contract Management: Building Relationships in Business starts on 27 April and registration is completely free.

Use the hashtag #FLcontracts to join and contribute to social media conversations about this course.

[Picture credit: Course image copyright: University of Southampton; derivative work based on silhouettes copyright: Nevena Radonja/Shutterstock, used under Creative Commons.]

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  1. Comment by Mandy Reid posted on

    We have several agency staff working within our office who have expressed an interest to this topic. Are they able to join in with the training?

  2. Comment by Ian Ripsher posted on

    Apart from myself, a few others have commented on technical issues, with official kit barring users from accessing the course at work, and having to do it at home. Can someone reply to this point, please?

  3. Comment by Mel Wheatland posted on

    Forbidden URL. URL Category is
    -R Rated
    -Video Sharing .
    Transaction ID is 557ABA42DAFC5C036BEC.
    Site ID: 102765
    This is ridiculous considering I was intersted in looking at this learning.

  4. Comment by Ann Bradley posted on

    I've completed the Contract Management MOOC having initially agreed time to study at work. I found some of the sites the learning material linked to were blocked, and as a laptop user my internet connection is unreliable to say the least, so I ended up doing the course at home. Happy to do this, and studying already in my own time, but the USP of MOOCs was "learning at work" and this is very difficult to achieve with the restrictions on web access that we have.

  5. Comment by Jeanette Bradley posted on

    Unfortunate that in the centre of this e mail is a DWP blocked access: What has happened?

    Forbidden URL. URL Category is
    -R Rated
    -Video Sharing .
    Transaction ID is 5564659FEE3630080897.
    Site: 101866 notice

  6. Comment by Ian Ripsher posted on

    Joined-up Civil Service?! My manager has allowed me to do this using my own kit at home (in HMRC's time). But something's wrong, somewhere.

  7. Comment by Lesley Jones posted on

    Unable to watch the video:
    Your access to this website has been blocked by the DWP's internet filtering software
    What has happened?
    Forbidden URL. URL Category is
    -R Rated
    -Video Sharing .
    Transaction ID is 553F7BC1BA94290D07E4.
    Site: 101866

  8. Comment by Ian Ripsher posted on

    I've signed up to one of these courses, but am unable to view the videos on HMRC kit due to the lack of 'Flash' installation. Good start.

  9. Comment by John Bristow posted on

    Its sounds very interesting and its a shame that my 'Mcafee security filter' has chosen to blank out part of this artical ! I will find out more as I do numerous on line courses and feel that although 'good in their time' now need 'a radical overhaul'to challenge the user more.
    Now we have the technology to involve almost everyone,why don't we use it?

  10. Comment by Jo Shaw posted on

    Have recently completed the Introduction to Cyber Security MOOC I have now signed up to to do this commercial MOOC. I found the Cyber Security MOOC - Future Learn and Open University - an excellent method of learning and it really got underneath all the technical issues and explained them in everyday language. I am sure this MOOC will hit the same high standards.

  11. Comment by Dave Simpson posted on

    A great idea and will be trying to take part, but when the web page includes the message (extract) below I have little confidence that MOD can fully faciltate this initiative.
    "The page or file you have requested cannot be loaded due to the current MoD Security Policy. The web server/site is attempting to supply this web page in a manner deemed hazardous to the security of MoD networks."

  12. Comment by Sue Seeley posted on

    As an ESA adviser in JCP dealing with disabled claimants I have already done several futurelearn courses on Obesity, Addiction and Science of medicines (in my own time) All have given me invaluable background knowledge to help me engage with my claimants. The courses have all been interesting and attract an extremely broad range of participants. I'm also signed up for others for example, history of Hadrians wall (beats watching reality TV anyday). There is a lot of opportunity to discuss and post comments during the course. I'm sure the course will be very good MOOC is very much a way forward for online learning.

  13. Comment by Terry posted on

    It makes me laugh all these blogs about civil service learning – the last time I had any civil service learning was about five years ago. When we are haemorrhaging staff to the private sector due to the demoralising PMR and erosion of the benefits package then that doesn't leave a lot of time for development for those that are left. The gulf between SCS statements and the reality on the ground gets wider by the day.

  14. Comment by Jessie posted on

    Hi Dave,
    I am working on a project with an e-learning dimension and am exteremely interested to find out more about how you put a MOOC together... the concerns I keep hearing about online learning centre around the lack of opportunity to discuss, share and ask questions and the 'tick box' aspect of working your way through consecutive screens without the opportunity to interact.

    It sounds like what you've got transcends the norm, which is really exciting... would you be prepared to share the platform you're using? How can I find out more about it?

    • Replies to Jessie>

      Comment by Dave Martin CSL posted on

      Jessie Thanks for your interest the MOOC is hosted on FutureLearns on-line platform. Click on the link for the CSL MOOC where you can register. While there why not take the opportunity to browse and see other courses on offer - there is quite a range. If you want to contact Future Learn there is a link at the bottom of the page

  15. Comment by Mark Hulett posted on

    I have completed one Future Learn MOOC and I'm in the middle of another,The Enterprise Shed: Making Ideas Happen from Newcastle University. It is great to see CSL moving in this direction. Fiture Learn courses are of a high quality and the high levels of participation make this method very engaging. I will follow with interest to see where CSL goes with this.

    • Replies to Mark Hulett>

      Comment by Dave Martin CSL posted on

      Thanks Mark for your comments. Yes we are very excited at CS Learning to be working with Southampton University and FutureLearn on this MOOC I hope you will register and expereince the course for yourself