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Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the Coursera Partner conference where the theme was, Learners First: Beyond the Campus Walls — all geared towards collectively building a future where anyone, anywhere can transform their life through access to the world’s best education. The conference brought together some of the brightest minds from both academia and the industry. Here are some main takeaways from the conference for me:
Credentials are More Important than Ever: It’s a “Post-Bachelor’s World” : The keynote was delivered by Dr. Sean Gallagher, Executive Director & Executive Professor, NorthEastern University where he shared some insights from his book, The Future of University Credentials: New Developments at the Intersection of Higher Education and Hiring. Dr Gallagher impressed upon how talent was fast becoming a top and growing priority for employers which was forcing both companies and universities to find innovative ways to deliver skills and award recognition.
The future of work and the future of learning are converging : Jeff Maggioncalda, CEO Coursera talked about how technology has enabled, the best education to be available to everyone in the world. Critical, especially in the countries where there is a growing number of people entering the workforce at the same time when automation is becoming a stark reality. Approximately 300 million people will be entering the workforce in the next 10 years, a third of those from India. This requires not only skills acquisition but a form of experiential learning which makes those skills applicable on the job from day 1 – which leads us to the growth of a symbiotic relationship between universities and industry partners
Learning is not an event, it’s an experience and part of your culture : Mariam Kakkar, Chief Talent Development, UNDP focused on their cultural transformation driven through continuous learning. They attained this with the help of quality education and partnerships which constantly evolve with their changing skills needs. “No single set of courses will ever meet your challenges – as challenges change, so do the skills needs. This needs both agility and innovation”, says Mariam.
Making the virtual real with high engagement : Larry DeBrock, Dean Emeritus, Professor of Finance and Economics, University of Illinois, Urbana said, “If you are thinking about teaching online, you just have to do it; technology is moving way too fast – you can’t wait on the sidelines!” They have been highly successful with a iMBA program which incorporates high-touch events like Zoom conferences to enable the learners to be “right there, in front of them”
Changes in the market required us to rethink skills development and credentials numbers: David Leaser, Senior Program Executive, Growth and Innovations at IBM talked about how the pace of technology change, shadow IT, rise of hybrid jobs, rise of teams with expertise location, GIG economy and new collar jobs have made us rethink skills development and how to recognize them. The open badge program pioneered by IBM drove triple digit growth in our MOOCs just during the initial pilot phase and is now being recognized as one of the industry standards.
Overall, the conference was extremely inspiring – it was all about how we can work together to make the world a better place to live in one skill at a time! You can read more on the conference highlights here