“Skill-based ed-tech platforms ride wave of online learning to carve a niche for themselves,” reads a headline in the Indian Express. The article has an overview of how the Covid-19 pandemic paved the way for skill-based learning and continues to be in demand with students and professionals alike.
The Zoom Video Communications hit an out-of-boundary score with the ease of teleconferencing accessible to all. 2020 saw many tutors venture into digital creation to reach out to their target audiences and generate a reasonable revenue from the same. And with knowledge and knowledge-givers so easily available, people took to pursuing their passions in their free time. The famous skill-based e-platform, Skillshare saw the number of enrollments triple over 2020, and currently hosts a user base of approximately 12 million students. People enrolled in such courses are not just limited to one course, many of them take up extra courses on the side with their formal education degree, to have an edge over their fellow competitors in the corporate race. And this is now a widespread practice. However 2020 brought with it multiple lockdowns leaving students and professionals with a lot of time on their hands. And that rightfully justifies the large number of enrollments in skilled courses. But with the world now getting back up from the whirlwind of last year, and people transitioning into their primary careers, how will skill-based learning continue to amass an audience? Is it leaving a mark emboldened enough for it to be a norm? We go over these questions in the context of this article.
I am sure the title itself strikes many arguments in one’s mind, and I am sure there is an explanation to it all. But let’s jot down a few points, shall we?
Much like how the term suggests, skill-based learning is a mode of learning that emphasises expertise in a particular skill. On the other hand, degree-oriented learning provides an inclusive learning platform wherein multiple subjects relevant to a professional field are taught. It is widely popular, but over the years it has become a rulebook to be followed by almost every educational institute.
Degree-oriented learning started off in the 11th century but ever since, it has evolved majorly and now defines the mainstream educational options. Its introduction began with newly established colleges and universities, looking to train a workforce specialising in multiple aspects of professionalism. The degree-oriented learning, which we now pursue has had a long history, and at present, faces a lot of criticism for its repetitive exercises and way of teaching. The learning majorly depends on college/university syllabus, and it involves multiple assignments and tests that many students now take for granted in securing good grades. Here’s where the question arises? How are the monotone assignments and assessments helping students venture into new discoveries and self-acknowledgement?
Skill-based learning, which may seem new or rather unconventional to many of us, has been a practice for a long time. History is witness to many artisans who have single-handedly changed the course of striking a successful career. With skill-based learning now making a loud comeback in the modern world, many people are drawn towards the sense of confidence, expertise and uniqueness it has to offer. Skill-based learning allows the students to pursue their passions and cultivate it into a fruitful career, this adds to an affirming sense of self and confidence in what one can bring to the table.
The argument of skill-based learning vs degree oriented learning is a long one, owing to the fact that both modes of learning have their positives and negatives. But arriving at a conclusion is imperative. And a more sensible conclusion is to integrate the two modes of learning and let a more effective mode of learning blossom into practice. With the current education patterns, students opt for their dream schools, often settling for backup options due to the unavailability of seats. Major schools, colleges and universities can start up vocational courses to tend to students who wish to opt for their courses. Besides this, institutions can introduce hobby classes, which do not limit the student’s semester grades to pre-defined subjects. Even though a mix of fields is slowly and steadily becoming a norm, like studying Chemistry with business sciences, this practice is a long way from being available to all students.
With an integrated form of learning, a STEM student will not be limited to maths and science, a business student to economics and accounts, and a law student to international law and consumer rights. This holistic approach will help the students define themselves and their expertise in the corporate world. Skills are very often acquired, or learnt along the way, but imposing them with technical knowledge can be a challenge to overcome. But it adds uniqueness and value to one’s personal brand.
Accepting these practises may tend to be a tough call for conventional colleges and universities who have followed an education pattern for years and have garnered a reputation for the same. However, slowly transitioning, accepting the challenges of the future workforce and delivering solutions is a stride in the right direction.
In a world where competition is at its peaks, students need to be trained to know how they can transform their careers into one that stands out and is a USP (Unique Selling Point) for their dream job. And we are the flag bearers for change. The current generation in the workforce is a testament to the immediate changes we need in our education system, and we need to be that change to see the change.