There is a huge gap between industry and academia today. Learn more about the lay of the land and identify opportunities for entrepreneurship.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start with giving our audience a bit of context about Hands-On Learning (HOL). What do you do? What major online education industry trends are you aligning with?
John Miller: I’m the Managing Partner and Chief Operating Officer of HOL. We’re a distance learning technology and consulting company that is focused on aligning education and private industry for effective workforce development, specifically in the STEM disciplines. In my role, I’m focusing on both sides of the fence, but we have an initiative that targets bringing industry and education together to focus on those STEM-related fields. We have about 14 years of experience working with universities and hundred thousand students. We have a pretty good perspective on education and what it takes to affect distance learning as a delivery vehicle.
Sramana Mitra: Who are your clients?
John Miller: From the HOL product solutions, we have a thousand universities today and a couple of hundred thousand students that are utilizing our solutions. In the area of the STEM initiative, we’re focusing on a dozen universities in North America building this unique relationship between the university and private industry. Historically, the relationship between those two entities has been limited in scope to grants and endowments. What we’re endeavoring to do is initiate a meaningful partnership between those two parties.
If you talk to the educational groups and look at their perspective on a graduating student, how much of the skill set required to enter the workforce do they really have? The answer you get is typically 70%. From the industry side, their perspective is closer to 50%. There’s a major gap and they both agree that there’s a gap.
I can only speak of one because we’re under non-disclosure agreements (NDA), and NDA with most but one has become public. That is a partnership between Cal State and Kaiser Permanente. Their focus is on educating their nursing community. We’re working with them to essentially identify where the gap lies and how can it be bridged, and taking their existing workforce and bringing them back to the educational process, so they can continue to grow through the career path of nursing.
Sramana Mitra: Where is the gap? What are you learning in this process?
John Miller: A lot of it is around competency-based education. One of the big areas that have been a challenge for education is providing the clinical experience of effectively bridging some of those skill gaps. Partnering these two groups together helps facilitate that but it goes a wide stream. We can identify a lot of different areas.
A case example is that the primary tool that a nurse uses in her role revolves around electronic medical record systems. I don’t know of any school that is actually conducting training with that primary tool. We do an assessment on both sides. On the education side, we look at their capabilities and the content and competencies they have relating to that. We can identify a number of gaps in that area. It’s all over the place but competency-based education seems to be the solution that is most viable here.