EdTech and Skills

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I’ve heard from a couple of vendors who play in the EdTech market (defined as K-12 and higher education), that believe skills, specifically skills capabilities can be successful at the higher education sector. It’s a novel approach, actually interesting, in one way, but it comes with assumptions, and if anyone who has studied the EdTech higher education segment, the pitfalls are very clear.

When talking about skills, these are skills focused on job roles or job opportunities, depending on your take. I could see interests being of value to those in higher education, and for colleges and universities who want to tap into the skills angle for their career center.

However, the track record of say a wide variance across the various departments at a college or university (regardless of two or four years), to utilize capabilities in a learning system that benefit their students, is not great. In fact, for many NexGen features alone, it is poor.

The Assumptions

Track Record of Mobile Usage

How many colleges and universities that have a learning system are tapping into the mobile app for student usage? How many add content on a daily or weekly basis to the learning system, that goes beyond synchronous, and relevancy? How many pick systems that offer an on/off synch app and use it to its full potential?

How many colleges and universities keep track – metrics wise of how their students are accessing the learning system – which if the system offers it (and most do not), would be of great value?

The challenge with EdTech systems overall, is that for most, they lack all metrics to really, I identify gaps for learning. They are not the strongest with segmentation, partially due to the overwhelmingly way of distributing learning – thru synchronous.

Some mobile views are downright dated. Others are mirrors, reflection of what they see on the system itself – not ideal, IMO.

There are colleges and universities outside of the states, that do not use the mobile app, due to some restrictions they have placed into their overall strategy for students to learn.

Relying on who is in charge of the system (college or university, department specific)

Skills capabilities in the entire learning system landscape are at an infant stage. Even systems that say they are skills specific, do not have all the skills functionality (that I cite in my template). Some skirt around and say they do, yet when you dive into the details, they do not.

How many people, the administrator, the person overseeing the entire system or even by department, are going to know what skills functionality are relevant and which are not? What skills functions would be of the most benefit to a student?

If I am studying history, and plan to graduate with a history degree, what job role should I be focused on? And let’s say, I want to go to grad school, what do I do then? Maybe I want to be a history teacher or down the road a professor. Perhaps, I am interested in sales, but change my mind, and go with logistics? Only certain departments or colleges within the university itself, would see a benefit in this, but the assumption would be that the student knows what they want to do when they graduate.

How many of you, said, “I want to work in e-learning? Let alone even knew what it was?” I can’t recall a university offering a degree in training? Learning and development? Maybe you are studying finance and thus will select job roles of interest around finance. But, due to the economy and opportunties where you reside, upon graduation, those roles are not available.

What do you do then? Can you, upon graduation, access the EdTech learning system, and select other job roles to learn those skills? How many colleges and universities offer this capability today -whereas their graduates can access the learning system, to take content/courses? How many systems tapped into the career center, offer their graduates access to courses/content that are 3rd party, not built by someone at the institution, but actual 3rd party content, for the student to engage in on-going learning, after graduation?

If a college or university offers this, then on-going skills development could benefit those graduates who have yet to find a job. Let’s say you have adult learners, those 25 or older, who already have a job, and their place of work, has a learning system. Will that student, who is working half or full-time, use the learning system at your college/university to develop skills for their job, if those skills have no bearing on what they are required for a course?

Zoom This

Way too many people see “remote learning – an awful term, BTW” as a major downer. They say they can’t learn, it fails to deliver effecting learning and acquisition of knowledge. Some see the system itself as a clunker, and the professor, teacher, etc. is only as good as how often they access and use the system – following up with office hours, allowing people to turn in assignments with leeway, and not a set time, as though everyone is located in the same time zone.

Professors (or whatever their title at the college/university is) are using web confernincg as the core for their students, rather than a tool. Synchornous based learning is widely and heavily used in EdTech, yet asynchronous based learning is the primary and main choice for corporate.

Self-paced learning works. Scenarios and engagement works. Courses that allow students to move around and select what is relevant to their learning, works. WBT was established because there are way too many weaknesses around ILT. Education immediately adopted and selected synchronous, because when the systems focused on education launched in the 90s, they were designed specifically for synchorous based learning. I’m referring to how the course is designed and appears. People erroneously assume that SBL means a discussion board, forum and chat room. No, it never meant that. I had a corporate system and most today, have at least a discussion board and chat.

If you are using a syllabus and your course is tied to the syallbus and the sutdent cannot jump ahead, but has to stay on that specific area, until the next one is opened and tied to the syllabus, then you have SBL.

A SBL course looks 100% different than an Asynchronous based course. Go to any 3rd party course provider and check out their courses and content. All of it is asynch.

I note this because it is a key when we are talking about skills and job roles or opportunities. The downside at the corporate level is way too much assigned, but think about this – why?

Where did this notion come from? Where did you hear assignements?

At school. A school, college, university all have assignments. They have required reading or viewing. They have tests. They base your success or lack thereof tied to those components. SBL is a way of taking the classroom mentality and sticking it online and calling it online learning.

But that is a misnomer. Can a student select their own content of interest? Is the system designed to be learner-centric? Does the faculty allow their students to pick and choose from a variety of offerings that are under a subject matter? Are colleges and universities adapting their learning to the needs of today’s students, by offering interests as a way to increase retention and comprehension?

Do they have API connections to Tik-Tok, Instagram, Whatsapp, FB Messenger, and whatever is next up for students to use? Do they align their projects around these solutions, where their students are using on a daily basis?

Are the learners really experiencing learning for the 2020’s or are they still stuck in a modality of learning from 1920?

Bottom Line

Before an EdTech vendor dives wholeheartedly into skills capabilities tied around job roles and opportunities, first let’s focus on learning for the next decade, by changing modality away from syllabus driven to learner/student driven.

Let’s add interests which opens up learning for all subject matter, and degree pursuits, rather than skills which aligns to job roles that, could be available to that student, but may not be. Add skills – allow them to select those skills, but do not force them into it.

Skills and Interests are two different areas.

Each will offer the student, something that we all believe in,

A well-rounded.


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