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Crowdsourcing and Contests Make the Grade for SAP MOOCs

November 28, 2014 by Susan Galer 0

One of the biggest criticisms of MOOCs is that they can’t replicate the unique learning environment of the classroom.

The latest course from the openSAP MOOC curriculum, entitled, “Introduction to SAP Fiori UX,” has turned that argument on its head by fostering a remarkable level of collaboration between instructors, classmates and SAP overall.

SAP Fiori UX is the company’s new user interface that’s designed to give people faster access to the tools they need for their job. But when over 20,000 people registered for the MOOC, they were treated to much more than the typical design class. First, they were encouraged to provide feedback to SAP on how SAP Fiori UX might be used in their situation, industry, or company. Their input was shared with classmates as well as SAP product teams. Then the fun really began.

Participants could compete in the SAP Fiori Design Challenge and create their own SAP Fiori use case. The kicker was that their submissions would be assessed by other participants in the MOOC. To qualify (and earn points), they had to agree to participate in the peer review themselves by submitting their design ideas and providing written feedback on other submissions. Each competitor was assessed by three different anonymous and randomly assigned peers. Instructors only weighed in to settle disputed rankings. I heard from the three lucky winners of the SAP Fiori Design Challenge who took home an iPad Air.

  • Elena Flocos, who works as a Functional Analyst at United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), decided to explore SAP Fiori UX as part of her organization’s quest to simplify business processes. She plans to bring back what she’s learned to support these efforts. “This approach made me think multiple times about how to formulate the business case and the solution in a clear and simple way that’s also understandable to non-experts. Evaluating other participants helped me learn about their challenges and ideas for improvement, some of which could be applicable to our organization.”
  • Pierre-Edouard Paris, a SAP Security and Authorization Consultant for SOA People in Belgium said that the course directly supports his career ambitions to become a SAP Solution Architect working with new technologies, including mobile. “This was a great opportunity to work with knowledge gained without being limited by the profitability point of view of the professional life. The format is close to perfect, allowing everyone to progress at their own pace, and practice what they’ve learned in a fun way.”
  • David Lincourt, Solution Expert at the SAP Global Defense & Security Business Unit, recently shared his prototype to customers who said ‘Wow, this is the new SAP. You guys are really listening.’ According to Lincourt, “I deepened my understanding of this solution, and immediately applied what I learned. The course reaffirmed that I shouldn’t be shy of building more prototypes to share the capabilities of our solution, using it to reinforce our SAP corporate strategy around simplification. I plan to reapply the design principles I learned to demonstrate for customers the art of the possible.”

Interestingly, participants generally accepted the reviews of their peers; a relatively small percentage of submissions required a second opinion from the instructor. In fact, some students suggested increasing the number of peer reviewers for greater statistical relevance. Here’s how Elvira Wallis, Senior Vice President of Solution and Knowledge Packaging at SAP, explained the rationale for crowdsourcing and peer assessment.

 “We see crowdsourcing and peer assessment as a next step in the MOOC evolution. By submitting their own ideas and engaging in feedback and review discussions with other users, participants were much more empowered to behave as active contributors and designers. They realized that there was no right or wrong answer, and their creative potential emerged.”

No doubt the coming year will bring more innovation to MOOCs, including SAP’s which currently have over 450,000 course enrollments. Meantime, openSAP is receiving some well-deserved industry kudos that bode well for the next generation of innovators.

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