As far as I can tell, Ethicon, which is an 80-year old division of Johnson and Johnson, is the first company to offer a MOOC for surgeons and others involved in obesity management. The MOOC is the brain child of Tim Mauri, Marketing Manager at Ethicon who is a self described "online learning enthusiast".
When I had the chance to speak with Tim earlier this month he described the challenges of launching his MOOC (actually it is scheduled to launch soon but an actual launch date hasn't been publicly set). Ethicon's MOOC is offered on the edX platform and even hosted on the edx.org domain. Not surprisingly, most of the challenges Tim described facing were not related to the technology of MOOCs but rather aligning his and other involved organizations around a novel idea...something that no one has done before in the surgical space. Tim wrote about his insights recently in a blog post published on the edX site.
Below is an interview of Tim by Dr. Porter of OnSurg.
I think it is not an accident that one of the first uses of MOOCs (and Open edX) is by someone in marketing as opposed to corporate training or HR. If you think about it, marketing's job is to help educate potential customers on the value of an organization's offering, whether it is a product or service. Historically marketing has been limited to pushing out content on TV, print or digitally via blogs, but a MOOC is really a way to engage with your potential clients in a way that is incredibly compelling. There is a decent chance that MOOCs are the natural evolution of inbound marketing especially for complex products or services.
Tim really sums it up at the end of this video where he says that, "this is very experimental. We have no idea how this is going to go...I know we designed a really good course we're going to turn the lights on and hope that people start showing up." It's exciting to see a pioneer like Tim and I'm optimistic that Ethicon's experiment will be a big success.