There is a paradigm shift happening in professional workspace from just-in-case-learning (think formal education) to just-in-time-learning (think skills based training, Boot camps etc). With major international tech companies (Google, Apple, IBM etc.) – not requiring a formal 4-year degree but a specific skillset and introduction of sponsored vocational focused learning modes (Micro Masters by edX, Udacity’s Nano degrees, Google’s Career Certificates as well as other industrial diplomas by Big Tech) all point towards this trend. As proclaimed by Kent Walker, SVP Global Affairs Google: “In our own hiring, we will now treat these new career certificates as the equivalent of a four-year degree for related roles” – it’s a profound shift indeed.
It’s all about skills, not degrees – maximizing ROI on both time and money since engineering education is becoming prohibitively expensive worldwide requiring huge upfront investments in time and money. In addition, it can be argued that it’s neither in sync with the latest demands of industry nor suitable for today’s knowledge explosion.
According to Cathy Gonzalez, in her 2004 paper on “The Role of Blended Learning in the World of Technology: “One of the most persuasive factors is the shrinking half-life of knowledge. The “half-life of knowledge” is the time span from when knowledge is gained to when it becomes obsolete. The amount of knowledge in the world has doubled in the past 10 years and is doubling every 18 months according to the American Society of Training and Documentation. To combat the shrinking half-life of knowledge, organizations have been forced to develop new methods of deploying instruction.”
Towards this end, it is being proposed that students are enrolled in a job role specific learning model using a personalized authentic learning approach; a learning intervention delivered as a LaaS (Learning as a Service) using curriculum integration/alignment. Existing engineering courses can be integrated or aligned with entry level industrial/tech certifications so that students can become skilled practitioners in a semester span and possibly progress further onto mature career specialization credentials/certifications by the time they graduate. Such an immersion would require an academia-industry merger so that students can hit the workforce early and then engage in lifelong education to up skill or reskill if and when required.
We believe such an arrangement will eventually replace other stop gap interventions being used for skill augmentation (various vendor-flavored academies as run by Cisco et al) at almost every engineering institute as we shift the trend from extra-curricular supplements to core-curriculum integration. As they say: If you can’t beat them join them!
“At the end of the day, the true value proposition of education is employment; Why not give industry a voice?” Sebastian Thrun.
- Gonzalez C. (2004). the role of blended learning in the world of technology.
- Serrano, D. R., Dea‐Ayuela, M. A., Gonzalez‐Burgos, E., Serrano‐Gil, A., & Lalatsa, A. (2019). Technology‐enhanced learning in higher education: How to enhance student engagement through blended learning. European Journal of Education, 54(2), 273–286. https://doi.org/10.1111/ejed.12330