How the corporate world's 'microlearning' approach can shake up the industry
- Corporate learning is increasingly moving towards an educational experience marked by competency or skills development, and higher ed institutions must be cognizant of the changes, or they risk falling behind market and technological trends and pressure, according to Sean Gallagher, the founder and executive director of Northeastern University’s Center for the Future of Higher Education and Talent Strategy.
- Gallagher writes in EdSurge that employers have gradually spent less on employee training and development in recent years, despite industries bemoaning the lack of experienced job applicants. Gallagher suggests this is due to more options in terms of MOOCs and online resources like Coursera, which have specialized in targeting corporate skills development in many of its offerings.
- Corporate experts see this move towards "microlearning" leading to increased use of "learning experience platforms," which would allow its users to select educational content pertaining to their education or job, with Gallagher likening it to the way someone can select a movie to TV show on Netflix or Amazon.
The rise of microlearning opportunities in the corporate world mirrors the increasing popularity of microcredentials in postsecondary education, which allows students, particularly those already in the professional world, to target specific skill or learning gaps to make themselves more attractive to potential employers. School leaders, particularly those leading traditional four-year universities, need to determine whether to strike a balance between broader degree programs and credentialing programs or to direct all its resources and efforts into one direction.
Colleges and universities are likely to follow the example of what industries require when it comes to amending their focus on degrees; Google, for example, wants to dissuade students from pursuing credentialing programs in lieu of a degree, saying they will not select employees with the former. However, there are accredited universities like Minerva which have responded to the credentialing trend with all its effort, eschewing the traditional degree path. Schools offering bachelor's degree programs should try to frame the pursuit of a degree as the start of an educational journey that can be amended with additional credentialing programs and courses during the span of a student's work life, especially if schools are able to keep such degree programs affordable and accessible. Students, especially those who are increasingly wary of higher ed generally, may be more amenable to attaining a degree if they understand it better as a foundation for greater learning potential and experiences later in life, rather than the only credential they will need to acquire.