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Civil Service

The MOOC - back again and building commercial capability in government

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Head shot Douglas Macbeth
Douglas Macbeth

Douglas Macbeth is the Professor of Purchasing and Supply Chain Management at the University of Southampton Business School. He is also Co-Academic Lead for the Contract Management Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) that started on 16 May 2016.

The latest Contract Management MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), the third backed by the UK Government, started on 16 May. This MOOC is putting the UK on the world map for the development of capability in government agencies, and we know that other countries’ civil servants are looking with great interest at what is going on here

Unique learning

You may have read about government involvement in MOOCs before in these pages. They are designed to help participants learn from experts and peers around the globe, using their smartphones and tablets.

mooc graphic
Licence: Creative Commons Attribution

This was a challenge for an old classroom teacher like me to adapt to smaller units of communication. The mix of videos, short presentations and online discussions, supported by an active feedback and sharing process, provides an opportunity for us all to learn from each other across boundaries of culture, business and geographical location. The participants can interact, exchange views or clarify points and the tutors learn what works and what we can change for next time.

Very experienced people from both the Civil Service and global businesses have commented on the discussion points. As such, the course doesn't merely give the views of one teacher, but draws on a range of expertise from many different people and situations.

You will find more information on the two previous government-supported MOOCs here.

Engaging material

The videos were a great experience for me. It was like making a TV programme, with all of the nerves that might involve. But, in the main, the results were great… I would say that wouldn’t I?

Another feature is live discussion, allowing us to bring current issues into more focus, with a variety of speakers debating and answering questions online. Tim Cummins (CEO of the International Association for Contract and Commercial Management) and I also upload short videos each week to highlight upcoming issues, and to respond to some of the key discussions from the previous week.

Word cloud describing the benefits of the Massive Open Online Course on contract management learning model

The beauty of this multimedia experience is that the material exists after the course is officially finished, meaning you can learn wherever and whenever is convenient for you. This approach will, in my view and the views of many others, be an important pattern of learning in the future.

Working in this way caused me to revisit my thinking to support the shorter and punchier approach, and I have tried to apply these approaches more in my face-to face-teaching. The videos are also used on a number of the courses I teach at Southampton up to MBA level.

Join the movement

Many thousands of UK civil servants have already taken part in the MOOC and had very positive experiences. There is potential to enhance both job performance and career prospects through active participation.

It is my perception, listening to various discussions, that success in many (maybe all?) Civil Service careers in the future will require much more understanding and application of the messages included in this MOOC.

Why not join the movement towards an improved personal and corporate level of performance, while building a network of people with whom you can share experiences and opportunities? It’s not too late and registration is completely free.

Join the Contract Management MOOC today

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  1. Comment by Frustrated posted on

    I have only just learnt of this today via email and unfortunately it hasn't left me enough time to look into, discuss with my manager or promote with my colleagues. Which is a shame because from the very little I have had time to read sounds very interesting.

    We need to be notified of courses in advance of the deadline date in order to get more uptake.

  2. Comment by Anthony posted on

    I've done the Contract Management MOOC. If I purchase the Certificate of Achievement to prove it could I have some financial reward from MOD/DE&S in the form of a pay rise? After all if you want staff to complete training & development then some recognition is only fair.

  3. Comment by Ann Bradley posted on

    Highly recommended - see my feedback in the 'Return of the MOOC' link.

    There's more free courses from Futurelearn which are interesting and work-related; I've recommended three - How to Succeed at:Writing Successful Applications,How to Succed at:Interviews, and Managing Your Identity (online) to my jobseeking customers, and I'm trying "Introduction to Italian" myself.

    • Replies to Ann Bradley>

      Comment by Pauline posted on

      I have completed with Futurelearn, the Introduction to Cyber Security course, which I found fascinating and very informative, if not a bit scary It made me more aware and cautious of what I put on my computer, where I use internet and passwords etc. I am now taking part in the Make a Difference -Sustainability for Professionals course. Although the course has officially finished I am on catchup due to work intranet accessibility to the videos and coments, I am having to do some of the course at home, but the course is still accessible so this is no problem there is no rush to finish the courses in the exact allotted time schedule which would suit a lot of people