Are we entering the era of ‘Netflix and skill’?

In a society where we get things on demand and are lured in by clever, intuitive algorithms, we ponder whether our journey through education should be shaped the same way

This generation is being built on-demand. We want things efficiently and with a click of a button. With all the smart technology that surrounds us, we have become somewhat spoilt in terms of being offered a ‘unique online experience’.

Our YouTube suggestions will be personalised, and our Facebook ads are specially targeted; whether you agree with it or whether it freaks you out, we can’t deny that it’s handy as it has streamlined many everyday processes, from shopping to watching TV.

Subscribe for three years in exchange for a degree

Should learning and development (L&D) teams begin tuning into the wonderful things astute algorithms can do? Just like when we finish a film on Netflix and we have three new suggestions thrown our way, indecisive students could benefit from having instant suggestions as to what they may want to try out in the next term.

I’m not talking about monthly subscriptions to an online platform. Platforms such as the retired Lynda, (now LinkedIn Learning) and Skillshare have been done on many different levels and are often not the level of accreditation companies seek. They also seem to throw anything at the person on the end of the screen, in hopes it will keep them subscribed for another month.

Universities could tailor a more personalised programme. For example, many of the students we welcome at Arden University are already working. They know what they want out of their degree and the skills they wish to acquire, but they may not know which courses will best meet those needs. An intuitive system that entwines what they enjoy and what they need to gain out of it may be perfect for them. It will leave them with the degree they want and the very specific skills they require.

We are also in an era where many are looking to upskill. Before COVID-19, the CBI and McKinsey researched skills gaps over the next decade. Nine in 10 workers will need some form of reskilling by 2030 as virtually every job will change – some incrementally, some radically. The report outlined that twenty-six million workers will require upskilling as their role evolves and five million workers will go through a more fundamental job change and require retraining.

Offering different vaults students can unlock along the way is a good way to ensure they have all the skills they need post graduating

Offering different vaults students can unlock along the way is a good way to ensure they have all the skills they need post graduating. After all, many students are less aware of the skills they will need until they are working.

Edtech needs the UX of on-demand streaming

Edtech can go further than offering a digital library with the latest journals; it can soak up what students are reading and interested in, and make further suggestions on what to watch or read, to make sure they are more than equipped for life outside of education.

The Netflix of learning may be far fetched for now and there are criticisms we can list against this model. Learning platforms will have to operate their recommendation engines on fundamentally different data to Netflix, which has 209 million subscribers and can easily track the habits of their users, making their suggestions more accurate.

What universities should be looking for is a simple platform that’s easy to navigate, 24/7 on an array of devices. A platform that takes into account students’ needs and does the thinking for them. Lecturers spend countless hours attempting to assess the skills or areas of improvement of their students when edtech could do it instead. There are countless tools, data platforms and apps that constantly assess student’s skills and needs which can be relayed to the department heads to assess.

What universities should be looking for is a simple platform that’s easy to navigate, 24/7 on an array of devices

Ninety-two percent of teachers believe tech is going to have a major impact on the way they educate in the near future and the past year has certainly taught some universities that they are way behind.

The pandemic has thrown people into a vortex and spat them out into a different world – one where lectures take place in our bedrooms and exams are taken online. It has pushed institutions to embrace tech like never before, so we mustn’t let a few cynics prevent L&D teams from reimagining what studying could be like and instead, consider how edtech has the potential to help us push boundaries and evolve the student experience.


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