openSAP: SAP’s Own Know-How

It’s been four and a half years since the openSAP platform was launched, and the free massive open online courses (MOOCs) have already become a well-established further development format for SAP topics.

There are already 125 MOOCs available, and more than 500,000 course completion certificates have been awarded.

openSAP Enterprise MOOC at SAP: The Principle

The principle behind the MOOCs at SAP is simple: In 10-minute videos, experts present technical content about in-memory technology, SAP Cloud Platform, machine learning, and SAP S/4HANA. At the end of each presentation, the course participation receives two questions to check how closely they were listening, and if they understood the information. At the end of each week, the course participant is given a deadline to complete specific pieces of work.

There are currently six week-long training units included within the six-week-long “Touch IoT with SAP Leonardo” SAP course. The final exam tests whether participants have internalized the material, and whether they have earned their course certificate.

“It’s up to the course participants to choose when they study,” explains Clemens Link, who brought the openSAP MOOC platform to life four years ago. “Those who want to achieve a high point score should be sure to stick to all the deadlines.”

openSAP: 125 Courses, 2 Million Registrations

There are currently over 125 courses available on the platform. There are 500,000 participants, with an average age of 34, and over 2 million course registrations. Over 40,000 people have registered for the first SAP HANA and SAP S/4HANA courses, and the current SAP Leonardo course has currently over 18,000 participants. Link estimates that one in four students successfully complete the course.

The courses are thematically oriented, and cover topics prescribed by SAP management. Currently these include SAP Leonardo, SAP S/4HANA, and SAP Cloud Platform, as well as product-relates topics such as data science. Compared to the MOOC pioneers from the U.S. — including the Stanford University-operated platform Coursera, the Harvard University and MIT jointly-operated platform edX, and the Google and Facebook-funded platform Udacity — a 25% completion rate is a positive result. In the U.S. this result is much lower, as only three to seven percent of participants finish the course on average.

MOOCs on openSAP: Facts at a Glance
  • Launch: 2013
  • First course: Introduction to Software Development on SAP HANA with more than 50,000 participants
  • Course sign-ups: 2 million
  • Certificate issued to date: 500,000
  • Most popular courses: SAP HANA (ca. 40,000) and SAP S/4HANA (ca. 40,000)
  • Number of courses to date: 125
  • Participants: SAP partners (50 %), SAP customers (30 %), SAP employees (12 %), students and freelance professionals (8 %); 90 % with a business background
  • Average age of participants: 34 years old (between 22 and 80)
  • Survey (based on responses from 65,000 participants): 50% would recommend the courses to others (Net Promoter Score, NPC), 94% believe that the skills and knowledge acquired can help them in their future work, 98% are (very) satisfied with the openSAP Learning Experience, 96% are (very) satisfied with the content for openSAP courses and 99% could imagine participating in another openSAP course.

openSAP Lessons Learned: Getting Hands On

For Michaela Laemmler, who worked in “Education Production” before joining the openSAP team four years ago, the MOOCs mark a paradigm shift. “Back then, we created the trainings and offered them to participants, but rarely received any feedback,” explains Laemmler, when discussing the diverse eLearning approaches. “Receiving positive feedback for good course content is a huge motivational boost for our team,” she says.

Laemmler also welcomes questions and comments from participants if there are problems or misunderstandings, as this helps them make things better. The openSAP also welcome criticism, for instance, if a presentation or course expert doesn’t meet expectations.

After the first four years, one thing is clear: the course participants want more than just presentation slides. “They want to see what the applications look like in the system, and have access to them,” says openSAP portfolio manager Link,who names this as one of their key lessons learned; “they want to see how the software actually works.”

MOOC: Deadlines and Point Scoring Boost Motivation

Unlike eLearnings which allow participants to extend their learning sequences, SAP MOOCs have set deadlines. Each successfully completed learning unit is awarded with points. “You can keep track on your progress, and this boosts motivation,” says Link, who has already successfully completed 50 MOOCs – if only to keep on top of how the new Stanford, Harvard, Google, or Microsoft courses are structured.

July 27, 2017 marks the end of the first course from the SAP Leonardo series. Afterward it will be possible to join the course through the backdoor for a fee of €39.00 in exchange for a reactivation code. This means participants won’t learn together with thousands of others across the world and there’s a chance the content may become out-of-date in the months after the course has finished. There are a few latecomers who have made use of this option. SAP is also repeating a selection of courses that were particularly popular.

In-Memory Data Management: HPI MOOC as Initial Spark

When it comes to the first SAP enterprise MOOCs, SAP Co-Founder Hasso Plattner also had a part to play. At the end of 2012, Plattner introduced a pilot MOOC at the Hasso Plattner Institute on in-memory data management. 12,000 participants joined the course, which the research institute had put together using filmed Hasso Plattner lecturers compiled into easily digestible units.

For Clemens Link, this was what prompted him to introduce the topic at SAP. Based on the first platforms that had come from the U.S., it was clear that more business customers were participating in the online courses than students. Managers and specialists in companies enrolled for the courses to be able to keep their fingers on the pulse of technological developments.

In 2013, Link first began launching courses on SAP HANA, design thinking and mobile development on the openSAP platform. In the years that followed, it rose to more than 30 new courses every year. In 2017, approximately 20 MOOCs have been launched, another 20 are on the way, and will be announced between four to eight weeks before the course start date.

Every Second openSAP User Comes From an SAP Partner

For a time, openSAP was a contentious issue within the company. Ultimately, the courses provide free SAP know-how for everyone who wants it. The question was: what does SAP get in return? It has since become clear that it is not only SAP colleagues using openSAP for further development, and preserving resources, but also SAP partners and customers who use it as an opportunity to stay up to date. SAP partners make up over half of the number of total users, and several thousands are registered in openSAP courses.

Ultimately, openSAP serves to support the SAP ecosystem whose main objective is to implement SAP software for customers. openSAP portfolio manager Link is thrilled to have launched so many courses: “As soon as colleagues offer the right courses, we’ll start producing videos.”

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