We go to school to get in to a good college. We go to college to get a degree. And we get a degree to show off to future employers that we have learned the necessary skills to function within the capacity of the job that we are applying for. Go to school to get the good jobs; the jobs we need to pay off our insurmountable student debt. Wouldn’t it be far easier to just surpass the degree altogether and gain the knowledge and skills needed to fit with what it is we want to do for a job and to accomplish this for a fraction of the price and a portion of the time?
Perhaps this is the new niche of MOOCs. The degree is obsolete. It may not be the place of MOOCs to replicate the same process of universities, with a large chunk of the knowledge that the students gain being nothing more than trivial “game show knowledge” by the time they are out in the workforce. Increasingly, employers are reporting the same problem: graduates are overqualified and underskilled. Perhaps MOOCs can bridge the gap between the employer and the student by targeting training for what skills the employer is actually looking for.
This could work in a mutually beneficial relationship between the MOOCs, the employer and the user. Employers can contact the MOOC to explain what skills they are looking for (Python, HTML 5, Basic Electronics and Magnetism Physics, East Asian History) and the MOOC provider can help to create a screening examination for prospects. Using this knowledge, the MOOC can also gear their courses to specific career-based skills for those looking to gain new knowledge. People looking for skills applicable to specific careers can search through the MOOCs that apply to their ideal career, and they can learn exactly what their employers (or companies in their industry) are looking for. MOOC sites can then screen for the skills the employers are looking for.
Companies could also start having their employees use MOOCs as additional educational resources. If somebody wanted to get a promotion to a management position, they could simply pay for the MOOC courses in, say, entrepreneurship, business practices, or other applicable courses that may be similar to an MBA program. Employees would then learn the necessary skills to advance in their companies for a fraction of the cost and with more flexibility. This would be especially helpful for large corporations that operate over several states that have large-volume hiring trends.
Now, what if some kid, maybe 19 years old, was ranked 1 of 122,934 people in his programming class? Clearly he is the top candidate from this class. Why not use this to signal high-profile employers that he was a promising prospect? Perhaps one of the most important aspects of MOOCs that make them a valid source to employers is being able to showcase talent through the courses, and for talented prospects to flag possible employers of their skills.
If the point of a degree is to get a job, then maybe it is high time we examined why we place so much emphasis on the paper degree from the brick and mortar school. If MOOCs can replace a degree in terms of signaling education, knowledge, and skills, then we might actually get some creative disruption in traditional education and workplace credentials. There is no need to make a better degree. Nor a cheaper degree. We need a better way to show skills and to identify talent. Perhaps this is why sites like Accredible are so valuable. You can go and document EVERYTHING that you have learned and present it on a paper resume in a way that is nearly unparalleled. On top of that, you can have access to hundreds of different MOOCs across several platforms so you can find exactly what you want to learn.
Head over to Accredible and start showcasing your talents and hard work today. Happy learning!
Siouxsie Downs: Siouxsie Downs is the CEO of IQ Co-Op, and co-founder of Farnsworth Downs Technology. She is an Uncollege alumni, stopped out of CU Boulder’s Engineering Physics program and is continuing her education in Nuclear Engineering. She hosts a radio show, has worked on humanitarian engineering, and is currently designing nuclear reactors in the Rocky Mountains. She plays roller derby (Atom THORasher), rides motorcycles, and was named after a 1980s punk rock singer and is an all around geek.