One of the most disheartening stories this year—for students and employers alike—has been that most employers don’t believe that colleges and universities are doing a good job preparing students for work. The gap between what students are learning and what employers are looking for has led some students, who in many cases are already paying exorbitant tuition, to shell out even more money for programs focused on job skills training.
Can MOOCs help students bridge this gap?
An interesting perspective on this question comes from Marci Powell, the Global Director for Education Industry Solutions at Polycom, who suggests that the video-based format used by most MOOCs may help students learn knowledge and skills associated with video conferencing, which is increasingly used as the communication strategy of choice in business.
According to a Techday article, Powell suggests that video conferencing provides a much-needed link between education and the workforce. This involves both learning how to use video conferencing technology to communicate and to work in geographically dispersed teams, as well as providing students with access to subject matter experts. She said: “You now have at your fingertips all these content and subject matter experts leading the students into the workforce. There is a tie between secondary and tertiary education and business that creates a career pathway.”
Many people are already using MOOCs to gain knowledge and skills they hope will translate into a new job or career, but this is the first time I’ve seen it suggested that learning how to use MOOC technologies themselves could also provide valuable job skills. It represents a non-standard approach to thinking about the courses, and it is this kind of thinking that will lead to new ideas about how to get students from where they are now to where they need to be to compete in the job market.
What are some other ways, outside of the content, that MOOCs might be able to help students better prepare to enter the workforce?