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Thought Leaders in Online Education: Ron Olsen, CEO of Remote Learner (Part 3)

Posted on Sunday, Jan 31st 2016

Sramana Mitra: Any other trends that you want to highlight?

Ron Olsen: What we’re seeing from our clients is really a stronger push towards the user experience and identifying this learning solution as ours. Particularly in the corporate space, how do our training and learning solutions directly tie in to our own brand? How do we make it easy and accessible for our folks? We have a fair amount of clients where we’re building near-custom applications around the needs of specific companies and their training needs. We’re seeing a straight grab-it-off-the-shelf, and the deploy it approach just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Sramana Mitra: In the portfolio of clients that you’re serving and the kinds of scenarios that you’re discovering where you need solutions to, are there specific tools and technologies that you see the need for that is not in the market that you would encourage entrepreneurs to develop?

Ron Olsen: If I had to think about where those gaps are right now, I would say that, from a trend standpoint, having more learner control over their own information. In other aspects of life, you see the portability of information whether it’s electronic medical records or social media. You have information that follows you around through your life.

The growing trend within the learning side is why can’t and why shouldn’t that learning follow me as well. It’s not just, “Hey, I graduated from this university.” It’s also more around, “Hey, I have the skill sets. I have achieved these certifications in specific things that are of interest to prospective employers or current employers. There’s some open badges initiative that helps with that verifiability, but I haven’t seen widespread adoption of this yet. I think there’s some opportunities there working with digital learning portfolios.

Within North America, they talk about 50% of the work force by 2020 being more on the contract basis and not so much a 9-to-5 traditional employment. The ability to demonstrate your skills and verify those skills is increasingly important. The need to grab or to be able to get just-in-time education that is going to supplement the skills you already have are going to create more opportunities for folks to be a better fit to the jobs that exist in the marketplace. That ties back to the open badges or the certification side.

It also ties in forward-looking from an educator’s side in terms of how do we turn traditional education into more immediately meaningful job-based world. One article I read talked about the middle skills. We used to talk about it in terms of vocational training. Now, it’s nano-credentialing and the ability to be able to demonstrate the training that you have. The applicability is going to be critical. The third thing that people are talking about but I haven’t seen a ton of progress on a larger scale is on the personalised learning – really developing tools to help you develop as an individual.

How do you develop your learning plan or aggregate both the learning that you have out in the world as they say, together with digital or book-based learning? How does that tie-in to the larger growth path as an individual? Things that capture and assist in that personalised learning program is getting some attention, but probably is not as widely capitalised on at this point.

Sramana Mitra: Very good. Thank you for your time.

This segment is part 3 in the series : Thought Leaders in Online Education: Ron Olsen, CEO of Remote Learner
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