Four years after the first massive open online courses appeared, online learning is becoming part of the fabric of both student and professional life. 2016 will be a crucial year in the development of this powerful new tool.
The first organizations to recognize these three emerging trends in online education will move several steps ahead in the race to build great, transformative companies.
Emerging platforms offer high-touch educational experiences (Photo credit: JEFF PACHOUD/AFP/Getty Images)
Job Seekers Will Build Portfolios of Online Certificates, the New Currency for Skills
Online course certificates will become a prerequisite on resumes whether or not they are recognized by an official accrediting institution. That’s because job seekers and talent managers increasingly recognize the value of these certificates as an alternative way to gain and demonstrate marketable skills.
Online certificates aren’t just for the exceptionally ambitious or resourceful job seekers. Coursera certificates are already one of the most popular certificates shared on LinkedIn profiles. Google and other companies are starting to list online courses as recommended qualifications for technical roles, and the Department of Education is piloting a program to provide federal financial aid for online courses. As acceptance grows, online learning will prove essential to closing the skills gap, especially in relatively new, fast growing fields like data science, software development, digital marketing, and cybersecurity.
Learning Will Become the Most Coveted Perk at Hot Employers
HR leaders are paying attention to online education not only on the resumes of job-seekers but also as a means of training their own employees. Millennials are expected to change jobs 13 times over the course of their careers. In this kind of job market, ping pong tables and catered meals can only keep an employee happy for so long. More than anything else, the next generation of employees is looking for the opportunity to continually grow throughout their careers.
The urgency of employee training needs is calling forth a variety of creative approaches to learning from the ed tech sector. Emerging platforms offer high-touch experiences (HackReactor and General Assembly), hands-on portals (Codecademy), industry expert teaching (Udacity), and state-of-the-art knowledge from the world’s leading universities (Coursera and edX). Not only are these new education solutions more suitable for today’s workers, their method of delivery is much more scalable and cost effective than previous approaches to corporate training.
The World Will Become Your Hiring Pool
One of the most inspiring and challenging aspects of building an education technology company is that the product is immediately international. Three quarters of Coursera’s users are outside of the US and half are from emerging economies. Global companies are taking notice.
When an internet connection is all you need to access great learning experiences, the barrier to entry is very low. Anyone around the world who can demonstrate mastery of the content and rise to the top of their peer group is a high-potential candidate. This global reach creates exciting new recruitment opportunities.
One example is Askhat Murzabayev, a computer science student in his early 20’s from Kazakhstan. His local university did not offer advanced courses in artificial intelligence, and so he enrolled in Stanford’s online Machine Learning course. Askhat put the certificate he earned on his resume and immediately heard from many interested employers. He accepted an offer from Twitter in the company’s Kazakhstan offices.
For Akhat and many others, access to outstanding and flexible education has opened up new possibilities to improve the lives of families and communities. Universal access to online education allows talented people to become noticed and great companies to be built. Enabling economic and social mobility may prove to be the greatest contribution of the ongoing revolution in online education.