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BW Businessworld

Cost Of Education Is Rising But Learning Is Failing: David Blake, CEO and Co-founder, Degreed

Degreed, an ed-tech company is engaged in enabling and recognizing all forms of academic professional and lifelong learning. David Blake, CEO and Co-founder of Degreed talks to BW Businessworld about e-learning, technology in education and future plans. Edited Excerpts:

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Degreed, an ed-tech company is engaged in enabling and recognizing all forms of academic professional and lifelong learning. David Blake, CEO and Co-founder of Degreed talks to BW Businessworld about e-learning, technology in education and future plans. Edited Excerpts:

Cost of Education is rising fast. In fact, many a times it becomes a hindrance for imparting education to the right meritorious candidate. Can you share your thoughts on this?

We live in a time when the cost of education is rising while the cost of accessing knowledge and learning is falling. That signals we have structural issues that need to be better aligned. An important way to do this is to leverage the learning ecosystem. Both, universities along with employers can create more cost efficiencies should they leverage the high quality free and low-cost resources available. Historically, finding and tracking these resources was a hindrance, but with Degreed we have enabled the very best learning resources to be discovered for any topic. And as you use the site more, we are able to tailor and personalise the learning resources you discover.

The next frontier is enabling people to get certified and get credit for all of their skills and learning, irrespective of how or where they learned it. What this enables is for people to pursue unique learning opportunities and resources but have a standardized way to have those skills certified. Degreed enables this with our Skill Certificates.

How e-learning is getting its sheen back?

E-learning is one part of the learning ecosystem. We learn from a variety of sources over our entire lives. According to Degreed research, formal, L&D-led training is still a valuable part of how workers learn. Around 70 percent of people told us they take live, virtual or e-learning courses from their employers at least once a year.

People progress every day, in a variety of ways – not just sometimes, in courses or classrooms. So build L&D environments that enable self-directed development as well as formal training, through both micro-learning and macro-learning.

How can technology help bridge the skill gap in the employees?

The skill gap is made up of two parts: (1) available jobs where no individual exists with the skills to fill the job and (2) available jobs where individuals exist with the skills, but the company and the candidate cannot find each other. The first is the training and education issue, the latter is an information and market-clearing issue.

The good news is technology can help with both. The ecosystem of free and low cost learning resources has exploded with growth. MOOC platforms like Coursera and EdX to paid platforms like Udacity and Udemy to free open educational resources and sites like YouTube and TED, learning is everywhere.

And Degreed both helps you find the right learning for you, and addresses the second part of the skills gap—helping the market and employers see all of your learning and skills.

How AI is helping the education system?

All AI requires training and data to be able to learn its task. Degreed is establishing the data set required to be able to verify any skill, at any level, at the scale of millions of people. Assessments are hard to create and administer for a single skill at a single level. This kind of approach, of being able to certify all skills at all levels is unprecedented.

What are the Future plans of the company?

We want to continue growing with employers, individuals and associations here in India and around the world. We believe the market wants to speak the language of skills but there was never a lingua franca. With our approach of lifelong education, where the individual owns their learning record, and employers all adopt the same standards, it enables a common language to be used by companies in every industry and across the globe.

What are the new developments taking place in the industry?

In an ever-shifting world, we need a model of agile, continuous lifelong learning. That model requires individual ownership, enterprise adoption, aggregated data, and standards for skills and learning. We have entered a world where we learn from a diversity of sources for the entirety of our lives. The problem with that is that credentials like degrees and certificates tell employers about your education and things like performance reviews only tell your employer what you did this year.

While assessments are typically very narrow and hard to scale, none of those things tells anyone what you can do now or in future. So Degreed is creating a new, more agile way to build, score and communicate people’s skills.