A World of Resonance

Dr. Richard Boyatzis is leading a free Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) on Coursera this month entitled:  “Inspiring Leadership Through Emotional Intelligence.”  MOOCs are the latest trend in education sweeping through colleges, universities, and the corporate world.  These are free classes and open to anyone. The content for this class on Emotional Intelligence is extraordinary.  The course is valuable to leaders, those who want to become leaders, and those who coach leaders.  The class opened on May 1 with 70,000 students!  I’m sure it has grown since then as word gets out about the quality of content and instruction.  Learn more about MOOCs.

How does this work?  Coursera is a platform for online learning, developed by professors from Stanford.   MIT, Harvard and Berkley developed edX, another MOOC platform.  Universities are using these platforms for online courses that promote the university’s excellence by showcasing their best and brightest professors.  Case Western Reserve in Cleveland is sponsoring the Boyatzis class.  He is definitely one of their “rock stars”.   The class is laid out in modules, with short videos you can download, documents with key learning points, and personal journal pages.  If you choose to be a serious student, the assignments include Personal Learning Assignments that are reflections on leadership, Quizzes, required readings, and Action Learning Projects.  The course is designed to maximize learning.  The first module assignment deadlines are May 14-15.   If you plan to take this for a certificate of completion, you need to sign up now.

I attended Dr. Boyatzis’ class on Resonant Leadership at the Cape Cod Institute.  It was the best class I’ve taken as an adult learner.  Boyatzis has authored several books with Dan Goleman and Annie McKee, has conducted extensive research, and teaches around the world.  The core topic that emerges from his teaching is what he calls “Resonant Leadership”.  Resonant Leadership is composed of hope, compassion, and mindfulness.  Resonant leaders inspire others.

After you understand his definition, you will see resonant (and dissonant) leaders all around you.  As a leadership coach, I have used these concepts consistently.   I work with executives to envision their ideal resonant leadership, recognize their actual leadership style, and set a learning agenda to close the gap.

Since I’ve taken his course previously, I have asked myself why do I want to take it again?  Of course, re-learning the concepts is useful.  However, my driving curiosity about the course is two-fold:  how do these MOOCs work, and can I learn using this model?

How do they work?  You simply register.  No fees.  No qualifications.  It’s a global classroom.  You can select a track to follow in Boyatzis’ course – which ranges from completing all assignments and quizzes to going above and beyond with an Action Learning Project.  How are the assignments graded?  The only way is electronically – no number of staff could process the volumes of quizzes and assignments.

The data shows that a small percentage of students actually complete these MOOC courses.  Anyone can sign up, listen to the videos, read the articles, and not take quizzes or complete assignments.  It depends on what you want to get out of it.  However, if 70,000 people walk away with an understanding and expectation about the benefits of resonant leadership…. that could make a significant impact in the workplace.

The question for me is whether I have the self-discipline to learn this way, with great materials, a great instructor, and no interaction?  I have found myself circling around the course and not taking action.  Last night, I reviewed three videos for Module #1 and read four articles.  The videos took a half hour and the articles about 45 minutes.

What made me dig in?  A friend called me and said she was finished with Module #1 and was worried about finishing Module #2 by the due date.  I laughed because she was so serious about it.  She has a Masters in International Affairs from Columbia, a long career of excellence in leadership, and a thriving business as a leadership coach.   She was acting as if she was back in grad school.  She was compelled to commit and finish.  All of a sudden, I felt I was being watched.  I was a slug.  One outside voice made the difference.

My learning about learning this week?  It helps to talk about the course with someone real – not a name in a forum.

Over the next six weeks of the course, I’m going to report on what I am learning about learning, and I will also review the materials, in case you want to follow along.  This commitment to review the course and discuss the challenges of learning is part of my learning strategy.   I can’t go back on my commitment – 70,000 people might see this.

Next up:  Module 1 – Great Leadership, Resonance, and the Neuroscience of Leadership.