The coronavirus pandemic offers online education companies a chance to prove themselves.
- Coursera is allowing federal, state, and local agencies that serve the unemployed to enroll in the free program until September 30.
- Typically costing $399 per year, workers will be able to access free online classes by going through unemployment agencies that have enrolled. Subjects range from cloud computing and computer science, to business and art.
- As workers begin retraining and school districts turn to virtual learning, online education companies stand to gain.
Coursera<p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Coursera, along with its community of partners, is ready to serve the millions of workers who have lost their jobs and are going to have a hard time returning in a slow economy," Coursera CEO Jeff Maggioncalda told <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaeltnietzel/2020/04/24/the-latest-from-coursera-free-courses-for-newly-unemployed-workers-across-the-globe/#7389edc65468" target="_blank">Forbes</a>. "We are honored to help U.S. states and countries around the world in their efforts to alleviate the impact on communities hardest hit by the pandemic."</p><p>The first U.S. states to offer the program will be Illinois, Arizona, and Oklahoma, while national governments like Colombia, Costa Rica, Greece, Malaysia, Panama, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan have also enrolled. Coursera anticipates that other U.S. states will enroll, and the company says it's looking into offering free access to private organizations "on a case-by-case basis."</p>
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Online education's big moment<p>It's no wonder Coursera and rival companies like Kaplan and Udacity have begun offering free online courses. For one, the unemployment rate in the U.S. last week topped 20 percent, meaning there's more than <a href="https://fortune.com/2020/04/23/us-unemployment-rate-numbers-claims-this-week-total-job-losses-april-23-2020-benefits-claims/" target="_blank">33 million Americans without jobs</a>. Many of these workers may need to retrain for new jobs, or could otherwise benefit by boosting their skills.</p><p>Beyond that, online learning companies are likely hoping that workers who enroll in the free program will continue using the platform when the offer expires in 2021. After all, the pandemic is likely to reshape many aspects of modern life, and it may accelerate a broad transition from in-classroom education to online learning. </p><p>The pandemic has already closed public schools across the U.S., forcing some 55 million American schoolchildren to attend class virtually, if at all. This shift has been fraught with technical, logistical, and psychological <a href="https://www.vox.com/2020/4/23/21233042/coronavirus-online-learning-teachers-students" target="_blank">problems</a>. But if online learning can be more successfully integrated into society, companies like Coursera could win big. </p><p>As Chip Paucek, chief executive of the educational technology company 2U Inc., told <a href="https://www.marketwatch.com/story/this-is-online-educations-moment-as-colleges-close-during-coronavirus-pandemic-2020-03-17" target="_blank">MarketWatch</a>: "This is online education's moment" to prove itself in front of a big audience.</p>
Nontraditional education options are on the rise.
- U.S. college enrollment has declined for the eighth consecutive year.
- Recent survey found that a majority of freelancers found skills training to be more important than having a degree.
- It's becoming harder for universities to keep up with a rapidly changing workforce.
College enrollment decline<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTU3MzQzOC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2Mjk1NjEwNH0.s5a6UutD78ANT9qrcugB-nnzyZZyfLYxtqA94bgIAx0/img.jpg?width=980" id="b50bf" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="af26d6c0a2ec437e76967e10870f3752" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p>New data from the <a href="https://nscresearchcenter.org/currenttermenrollmentestimate-spring2019/" target="_blank">National Student Clearinghouse Research Center</a> has found that college enrollment in the U.S. has again decreased for its eighth consecutive year. The report covers up to 97 percent of enrollments within the country at degree-granting postsecondary institutions.</p><p>The report goes into a detailed breakdown on degrees, age ranges, and location. It's worth checking out as it could be indicative of a much larger trend. While there are some new growing areas of study — we can always speculate on the <a href="https://bigthink.com/technology-innovation/best-college-majors-future" target="_self">best college majors of the future</a> — the overarching trend, in both quantitative measures and cultural sentiment, is one of a future geared towards skills, not degrees. </p><p>Increasingly there are more and more renowned and prestigious companies that no longer require a college degree for work. <a href="https://www.glassdoor.com/blog/no-degree-required/" target="_blank">Recently Glassdoor</a> created a list of major companies where a degree wasn't required. Some included powerhouses such as Apple and Google. Why the sudden cultural shift from the bigwigs? </p><p>It's a common trend that many people go to college only to end up getting a job that doesn't relate in any way to what they studied. Major corporations are starting to realize that. Right now, a great deal of companies that still require degrees seem to be using the degree as a signal or key. A key that gets you in the door and tells your potential employer that you have completed something all the way through and are reliable. At least on paper, anyway. . . </p>
Accredited skills and experience matters the most<p>One of the fastest growing areas of work is within the freelancing community or "gig economy." A recent survey titled <a href="https://www.upwork.com/i/freelancing-in-america/2018/" target="_blank">Freelancing in America 2018</a> found that 93 percent of freelancers with four year degrees said that skills training was more useful than their degree. A majority of 70 percent of freelancers participated in new skills training within the past six months, compared to only 49 percent of full-time non-freelancers that didn't do any skills training in that same time frame.</p><p>This data leads us to the root of what's been happening in the workforce this past decade. Exponential technological change paired with absurd educational costs and, of course, the 4 year minimum time sink — has made the university system, a difficult path to commit to and choose. The cost of a college education isn't directly correlated anymore with your potential future earnings. </p><p>A lot of what is being taught in college has no bearing or relevance on the day-to-day functions of a real job. Yet, there is still this perception that degrees are some kind of holy constitution of mastery over your topic of study. For doctors or other highly advanced degrees, that may still be true for now. But more often than not, your professional competency has nothing to do with what you learned in school. </p><p>Take programming, for instance. For a dynamic skill like web development, information from a few years ago is already irrelevant. Those who are actually professionals need to be active in a dynamic community and constantly stay up to date with the technology. </p><p>Writers and marketers can't afford to be trapped for four years in a room with a blackboard and a tenured professor that can't log into his own email account. While you were toiling away reading Chaucher and learning how to format an outdated market research plan, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIdsjNGCGz4" target="_blank">this friggin' guy</a> learned everything he needed to know from a bargain blog and is running ads on a social platform that didn't exist a year ago. . .</p><p>Knowledge is not static. The old hyper-specialized cog is not the ideal worker anymore. The archetype of this workforce era is the <a href="https://bigthink.com/personal-growth/think-like-a-renaissance-man" target="_self">Renaissance (wo)man.</a></p><p>Freelancers understand that. Even if you do have a diploma or intend on getting one, the mindset of always learning is the new way. A 2016 World Economic forum found that in most industries and countries, the most in-demand jobs and specialties were jobs that <a href="http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_Future_of_Jobs.pdf" target="_blank">were just created in the past five years</a>.</p><p>While a majority of schools are not keeping up with the real world, there are a few initiatives attempting to remedy this problem.</p>
Lumina foundation's solutions for knowledge advancement<p>One such organization concerned about the future of education is the Lumina foundation. Their recent <a href="https://www.luminafoundation.org/news-and-views/lumina-foundation-awards-2019-education-innovation-prizes" target="_blank">2019 Education Innovation Prize challenge</a>, sought to challenge competition entrants to find better solutions for after high school education.</p><p>Miami-Dade College's Accelerated Credential Training and Skills (MDC ACTS) program took home the first place prize this year. They've created something called the earn-and-learn model. Working with a number of different employers, they've developed 12 week programs to provide continual technical training. People will be provided on the job training, while also receiving hourly pay and a round of guaranteed job interviews. Successful graduates earn credentials that they can then use for further learning and even greater job opportunities. </p><p>Executive vice president of the project, Lenore Rodicio talks about how an initiative like this will allay some major problems that young adults face. </p><p>"For some, the decision about whether to stay in school can come down to a choice between putting food on the table or going to class. We hope that with our earn-and-learn model, fewer people will have to make that choice. . . It allows students to remain in school while earning a wage, raise their skills in high-demand local industries, and have an entry point to a higher education pathway."</p><p>It only makes sense that businesses, and even some colleges, retune their approach to both skill acquisition and employment.</p>
Today's fast-paced culture leaves no time for relational intelligence. Here's why it's worth slowing down to eventually speed up.
When your method or worldview clashes with a colleague's, how do you respond? Leadership expert Angie McArthur has one word for these encounters: exciting. She views them as opportunities to develop relational intelligence—a skill that is sorely missing from most workplaces today. McArthur believes that the confusion of not understanding why someone acts or thinks a certain way is a growth opportunity that, in the long run, builds more productive teams that make stronger decisions. The problem is that our fast-paced performance culture leaves no time to step into that confusion and explore it—in fact, we don't even like to admit our confusion exists. Here, McArthur speaks with diversity and inclusion expert Jennifer Brown about slowing down and retraining your relational intelligence for quality results over fast deliverables. This live conversation was part of a recent New York panel on diversity, inclusion, and collaboration at work. Angie McArthur is the co-author of Reconcilable Differences: Connecting in a Disconnected World.
Here's why you should always be looking for new income streams—even if you already have a full-time job.
Some of the most innovative ideas and products in the world come from interdisciplinary collaborations. So what if you could become a one-stop interdisciplinary shop for bright, outside-the-box ideas? According to marketing expert Dorie Clark, that's what happens naturally when you start to build a side project or immerse yourself in a new hobby—even if it's just a few hours per week. Devoting yourself to learning how to build an app, run an e-commerce site, sell to clients, or create an artisan product expands your skills portfolio and makes you more valuable to your employer—plus the additional revenue streams will afford you some income cushioning should something happen to your full-time job (touch wood). Not only does your gusto show initiative, but it could allow you to solve problems from a perspective that is unique among your colleagues. Beefing up your skills is an entrepreneurial tactic that can transform your career and income potential. Case in point, Clark shares the story of how one nurse rose up the ranks like lightning to become the communications director at a major New York City hospital. Make your hobbies pay off and become professionally independent. Dorie Clark's new book is Entrepreneurial You: Monetize Your Expertise, Create Multiple Income Streams, and Thrive.
What's the best way to learn something new? Embrace your inner imposter, and don't worry about speed—here's why.
There are two things we typically consider to be points against us in life: feeling out of our league, and being slow learners. Here, however, Professor Barbara Oakley turns convention on its head to show how they're really assets to your education. If you're about to start a new skill or job and feel the onset of imposter syndrome—are you the least qualified person in the room? Did you 'fake' your way into this opportunity?—embrace it; Oakley contests that seeing the world with a beginner's mind actually opens you up to learning. Overconfidence can make us blind to our mistakes, so humility is a tool in itself. And as for being a slow learner, Oakley uses the analogy of a race car driver and a hiker to describe two distinct learning styles. Both these types reach the finish line or the mountain peak, but one takes the time to look more closely at details and learn a lesson more deeply, while all the other might see is a blur. Barbara Oakley's most recent book is Mindshift: Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential, and you can find the Mindshift course here.