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How to educate a continent

Tuesday, 29 March 2016   (0 Comments)
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Image: GetSmarter


The #feesmustfall student protests that dominated headlines for much of last year were a stark illustration of the urgent need for disruption in the education system, says Chris Hosken, former Chief of Development at GetSmarter, speaking at the Design Human Capital Forum, hosted by the Cape Craft and Design Institute on 10 March.

“There will always be a place for university education – it’s critical for professionals like engineers, doctors and architects.” But Hosken maintains that the current university system isn’t geared to developing skills. “We don’t need interns,” he explains. “We need people with practical skills so that they can actively participate in the economy from day one.

Hosken continues: “The reality is that the cost makes a degree inaccessible for many; and graduates without practical skills means that we cannot plug the skills gap on the continent. We need to change the narrative that a university degree is the golden ticket to the middle class.

Online learning platforms like GetSmarter and Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, are starting to challenge that narrative.

Time magazine called 2012 ‘the year of the MOOC’, as a testament to the growing trend towards online learning. The sector is growing globally, but for a long time the offerings have been perceived as being hobby-based, rather than truly viable alternatives to traditional paths of academic learning.

Over 40 000 students have passed through GetSmarter’s programmes, with a completion rate of over 90%. This is unprecedented in the online learning environment.

GetSmarter’s differentiator is that it offers academically rigorous, university-quality education, delivered in short online courses that vary from six to 12 weeks in duration. In addition, students are matched with a course coach who guides them through their learning journey from day one.

The entire learning journey is designed with the student in mind, from the advertising to the delivery of the certificate at the end of the course. The experience is a profound one for students who may otherwise never have the chance to receive a certificate from globally recognised institutions such as the University of Cape Town (UCT), Wits University or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

What this means is that technology is enabling universities to scale their offering – something which Hosken is passionate about. “The key is inclusivity and scale. If an institution cannot scale its offering, or people are excluded, then it has failed. If people can’t access education, the system perpetuates market failures.

Short online courses that are designed to be academically rigorous and socially supportive offer people a better education that builds their theoretical knowledge while also offering practical skills. In doing so, the barriers to education fall and a new generation of work-ready, skilled entrepreneurs and business owners can start to create jobs immediately.”

Online learning offers anyone with a computer and an internet connection the opportunity to access the knowledge and networks that they would previously be excluded from under the standard models

Having left GetSmarter, Hosken has been developing a user-centred education framework that combines user-centred design with access and scale to enable people to access top quality business school education.

He will be launching the start-up school in April 2016

Have you or your colleagues benefited from a MOOC or short online course? What are your views on the future of university education? Tell us by email at design@ccdi.org.za

For more information, contact chris@edall.ac.

For more detail about GetSmarter, visit http://www.getsmarter.co.za/.

 

The Design Human Capital Forum (DHCF) is a quarterly gathering that brings together people working in, and passionate about, design education and human-centred design. We welcome all individuals working in design, innovation and skills development. This group meets to keep abreast of current design education and training initiatives, share examples of best practice and discuss areas that need attention. To join the mailing list and keep informed on upcoming events email joanne.sandler@ccdi.org.za.

 


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