Here To Stay: How Disruption Will Drive Career-Long eLearning

The Education Gap And Career-Long eLearning

Ever feel like the rate of digital advancement is too hard to keep up with? The technological systems that we’ve created have become increasingly complex and are beginning to integrate with everything from home to business, and it’s not easy to learn new hardware, software, operating systems, user interfaces, etc. Nevertheless, business-wise, software integration is (a must?) at an all-time high, and it’s becoming more apparent that corporations are going to invest in their employees’ continued career-specific education to deal with the dynamic digital age. So how do you keep up? How do you ensure that the things our children are learning in school today will be the same things they’ll need to utilize in their careers tomorrow? It’s clear that there is a desperate need to bridge the education path for primary and secondary school graduates with the tricky career gap. Disruption is both the problem and the solution here, and though generally ill-advised is she who fights fire with fire, in this case the opposite is true. Career-long eLearning will be essential in creating the work-force of tomorrow.

Disruptive And Innovative Everything

Technology’s rate of disruption and renewal in near every field means that learning and relearning new tech has become quite the task for employees in any field. Just as taxed are the educators who are tasked with preparing students for a workforce that’s changing so drastically that it’s completely different by the time these students graduate. Speaking on how education is ripe for disruption, Eric Sheninger writes in the Huffington Post:

Even though there has been incremental change resulting in some isolated pockets of excellence in schools across the world, system change has been hard to come by. By employing disruptive strategies we can begin the process of creating a more relevant learning culture for our students. If we don’t, history has already provided a glimpse as to what might happen… disruptive innovation compels educators to go against the flow, challenge the status quo, take on the resistance, and shift our thinking in a more growth-oriented way… There is time to go down the path less traveled and create systems of excellence that will be embraced by our learners and in turn better prepare them for their future.

What Sheninger proposes that is so important is that systemic change in education is essential, and would be mirroring systemic disruption in the wider world. Sheninger isn’t alone either--Carl Hermanns, an associate professor at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University, also believes that systemic change is necessary in education. “Every day, my goal is to ensure that our students, future principals and teacher leaders, understand that there are inequities in the education system that can block students from reaching their full potential”, Hermanns says.

Whether the change is needed to match disruption in the workplace and consumer marketplace, or because of rampant inequalities in the system is somewhat inconsequential--only somewhat because inequalities stemming from socioeconomic disparity are in desperate need of institutional address--because both are keeping students from reaching their full potential. Traditional education just simply isn’t working anymore, as the education path does not connect to the career path anymore. When you look at the fact that the average in-state student spent $19,548 in 2015 (~$34,000 if they’re out of state) on tuition and fees for college, are coming out of university with $80,000 or more in debt, and even though 2016 saw the best job market for grads since the Great Recession, 51% of graduates from the classes of 2014 and 2015 said they are working in jobs that do not require their college degree. This is up from 49% of graduates who reported the same thing the year before that. 39% of graduates from this same group are making $25,000 or less annually, according to a report by Accenture.

The Problem And The Solution: Need To Learn Tech Resolved By eLearning

The old adage goes “if you can’t beat ‘em, join em”, and never has that been more appropriate than now. Agility and adaptability are becoming key terms in the workforce of tomorrow because of how fast the marketplace is picking up the pace of technological change and innovation today. This means that frequency of on-the-job training will likely continue to rise, especially as eLearning becomes more popular. One infographic posits that 40 - 60% less employee time is spent eLearning than it is in a traditional classroom setting.

If educators begin to use the eLearning model mixed with the same practical and fundamental model detailed by Johanna Sorento in “Making Math Not Suck” students will not only treat education like applicable, tiered building blocks, but they will also learn how to learn. Not only that, but in conjunction, these two types of learning can be carried on from school to the career, meaning that the education and careers paths are connected from the get-go.

Of course, we’re not quite where we need to be to implement an eLearning revolution. Artificial intelligence will likely help us get there, and there are plenty of national and international regulatory bodies that will need to get on the same page before anything moves forward, but that future is bright.

‘Til Then It’s Up to Us: 4 Tips For Creating Career-Long eLearning

While eLearning is obviously catching on, it’s up to the curators of this type of education to deliver it effectively, and thus to prove that it’s effective. In the coming year, make sure that you’re following a few tips to make sure that your eLearning courses and modules are accomplishing their directives substantially:

1. Use Templates. 

Too many people dismiss templates, misunderstanding just how useful they can be in making a course or module more effective and cohesive. There are plenty of free downloads of templates out there, and it doesn’t take much for you to sit down and build a bunch in the present, vs. fumbling through new parameters every time you want to create a card for, let’s say, knowledge check interactions.

2. Break Your Courses Into Multiple Parts. 

Smaller courses are contributing to a trend called microlearning. They’re more easily digestible, more easily created, and can actually teach better in some instances than their long-form counterparts.

3. Get To Know Your Tools And Development.

If you have a choice between form and freeform applications, make sure that you know your constraints as well as the strengths of the two. If you use form, you don’t have to learn freeform applications, but you will be restricted in function. If you fancy yourself more of a creative type, go for freeform and brush up on your development skills as well. Commit to an eLearning challenge, and continue to sharpen that eLearning sword on the whetstone of experience.

4. Disseminate Information. 

Make sure that whatever you’re doing and succeeding at, you’re also sharing with the wider eLearning community! Remember, we’re all in this together, and we’ll all in it for each other. If we’re not teaching to help others, what are we teaching for?

We have a responsibility to get ahead of the eLearning curve before it passes us by. The bright side is that with effective modules, adaptive modification, and the will to succeed, the average citizen of the future will be learning something new every day, whether it’s at school or on the job, for the rest of their lives.