This is how you connect online learning to career outcomes

FutureLearn, an online course provider with a gorgeous UX, is killing it when it comes to connecting online learning opportunities to career outcomes. I just stumbled on a link to their Become a Data Scientist page and when I landed I felt a little like this:

They nailed it. I’ve written previously about online course providers who fail to help learners articulate how their online courses improve career prospects. FutureLearn does this exceptionally well with their Become a Data Scientist page. It’s a model for online platforms who are targeting mid-level professionals on how to frame their course offerings: start with career outcomes then connect the courses to the outcomes.

It looks like this:

First give an overview of the career path: description, salary, job openings.

Then educate the student on the skills they need to become a data scientist. (this helps for the job search too as learners will be able to articulate the skills they’ve mastered)

Next, connect learners to opportunities that help them develop those skills.

(plus one for setting expectations with timeframes and workloads)

Finally, seal the deal with social proof and the benefits. 

Above all do it with good UX and design. FutureLearn does this wonderfully. The only thing I’d add is video testimonials or stories from students who have made the transition to a data scientist. I’m impressed which is hard to do since I’m definitely a critic when it comes to popular online learning experiences.

Now imagine if college majors were designed this way for prospective students?

Are you prepared to diversify your career?

“More and more independent thinkers are realizing that when being an employee is the equivalent to putting all your money into one stock – a better strategy is to diversify your portfolio. So you’re seeing a lot more people looking to diversify their career.” What jobs will be around in 20 years?

I like the concept of diversifying careers. It’s the first time I’ve read it like this. I usually refer to this idea as a tactic – collect skills. But the idea of diversifying your career makes it more strategic. To succeed in the future, people need to think beyond one industry, one set of skills, a single professional domain of expertise.

I’ve been stuck on the idea that the word career is terribly outdated. The definition of career is,

an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person’s life and with opportunities for progress.

Yet we’re seeing more people take on different occupations throughout their life. And with automation and the drastic changes coming for the workforce, there’s less guarantee for long-term opportunities and progress.

We need a new way of talking about careers that gets people thinking about upskilling, continuous learning, adaptation, growth-mindset, creative solutions, etc. The term career is rooted in the idea of stability and the idea that you’ll be rewarded just by showing up and doing your job. And that’s pretty much the opposite of the future of work:

Professor Richard Susskind, author of The Future of the Professions and Tomorrow’s Lawyers, echoes this distinction. “What you’re going to see for a lot of jobs is a churn of different tasks,” he explains. “So a lawyer today doesn’t develop systems that offer advice, but the lawyer of 2025 will. They’ll still be called lawyers but they’ll be doing different things.”

I’m building a school that teaches these concepts but I cringe when I pitch the idea because I have to use the term career, a term rooted in old-school thinking. So to get people thinking about new career expectations, I’m trying out new terms: career portfolios, portable careers, fluid careers, mobile careers. Then again, sometimes I just wrap it in clickbait: robot-proof careers.

Would you take a job that pays you in Ethereum?

AmaZix is the leading provider of community management services for crypto projects. We specialise in helping projects running on the Ethereum blockchain, especially those building up to their ICOs… We pay our staff in Ethereum which can be easily sold for USD or the currency of your choice on a variety of exchanges and we can support you in this.

I originally clicked on this post because the job title was so unique. AmaZix is looking for a Professional Telegram Moderator, a title that might be a bit too clever for its own good (but hey it got me to click!). But the requirements are just as interesting as the title:

  • A fluent level of English (if you are also fluent in Russian or Chinese it will be a plus)
  • Be willing to dedicate at least 20 hours per week to the task (working hours are negotiable, full-time is ideal)
  • Have good social skills, being ready to deal sometimes with complicated users posing nasty questions or FUDing 
  • Be ready to invoice AmaZix for your services
  • Be comfortable being paid in Ethereum
  • Be organized and ready to bring your skills into a decentralized organization with members from many different countries

Paying in Ethereum is a sure fire way to ensure the people you attract are invested in the future of digital currencies and have the knowledge to do the job well.

This is a remote job, working on digital currencies and being paid in digital currencies, across cultures. The future of work continues to fascinate me.

Get a degree in weed, get a job

No other 4-year undergraduate degree program in the world combines rigorous coursework in chemistry and biology with research and hands on instrumental analysis built into the curriculum to prepare its graduates for a career in the cannabis industry.  The additional focus on entrepreneurship and laboratory accreditation standards means that our graduates will not only be qualified to perform the instrumental analysis in a laboratory, but will also be empowered to build their own testing laboratory, dispensary, and growing operation from the ground up.

Northern Michigan University launched a degree in cannabis, Officially titled, Medicinal Plant Chemistry, it’s interdisciplinary too. It combines chemistry, biology, botany, horticulture, marketing and finance.

“We’ve had an overwhelming response from growing operations, dispensaries and other businesses who want to take on our students as interns,” said Canfield, adding that a stereotypical stoner need not apply.

That’s the part that caught my attention: employability. Gardeners and concentrate makers can earn in the six figures and job listings aplenty are listed for the cannabis industry. These graduates will be in demand.

In my last role at an east coast Ivy League career services center, several MBA students were interested in the cannabis industry. It’s not hard to see why with a projected market growth of $21.6 billion by 2021. Yet career services wouldn’t touch it. They weren’t open to building relationships with cannabis employers, despite the thriving industry that was alive and well out West (as the Pacific Northwest transplant, I advised students on opportunities). Innovation was cool as long as it fit within what was considered status quo.

While I wrote this post to share this new intersection of cannabis and higher education, there’s a bigger takeaway: Innovation doesn’t necessarily come from the top schools. There’s a tendency in higher education circles to look towards the Ivies and Stanfords as exemplars of innovation. But that’s misguided because they’re well-funded, resource-rich institutions. Sometimes they’re actually risk-adverse. I’d like to see that mentality change in higher education. Innovation can be found across all types of institutions, not just the Ivy leagues. Take a look at Vanderbuilt’s work on digital pedagogy. Or the partnership between 11 universities to improve retention rates among low income students. Then there’s the future-oriented career services training at Hazard Community College. Lansing Community college is using open resources and free online texts instead of textbooks to make college more affordable. In the online education space, an area traditionally thought of as US dominated, there are fascinating ideas happening outside the US.

No doubt NMU is blowing up because cannabis is sexy hot right now. I’d love to see higher education circles promote more creative, forward-thinking degree programs from lesser known schools.

Update: I just searched cannabis jobs on LinkedIn and 420 results were displayed. Well played LinkedIn, well played. 

Cannabis jobs

Will black box algorithms be the reason you don’t get your next job?

A good example is today’s workplace, where hundreds of new AI technologies are already influencing hiring processes, often without proper testing or notice to candidates. New AI recruitment companies offer to analyze video interviews of job candidates so that employers can “compare” an applicant’s facial movements, vocabulary and body language with the expressions of their best employees. But with this technology comes the risk of invisibly embedding bias into the hiring system by choosing new hires simply because they mirror the old ones.

– Artificial Intelligence—With Very Real Biases

Beyond bias we should be asking serious questions about the data that these algorithms are based on: what data are they using to determine the connection between facial movements, vocabulary, and body language as predictors of job performance?

More from the article above:

“New systems are also being advertised that use AI to analyze young job applicants’ social media for signs of “excessive drinking” that could affect workplace performance. This is completely unscientific correlation thinking, which stigmatizes particular types of self-expression without any evidence that it detects real problems. Even worse, it normalizes the surveillance of job applicants without their knowledge before they get in the door.

GE helps employees make their internal moves

GE isn’t a company that comes to mind as innovative, yet their current work in talent development and helping employees navigate their careers is quite forward-thinking:

Using data on the historical movement of GE employees and the relatedness of jobs (which is based on their descriptions), the app helps people uncover potential opportunities throughout the company, not just in their own business unit or geography. Lots of companies post open positions on their websites. What’s different about this tool, says Gallman, is that it shows someone jobs that aren’t open so that he or she can see what might be possible in his or her GE career.

Showing employees what’s possible, regardless if the opportunity is available, is a smart move. It helps anchor the company in the employees mind, giving them a path to work towards. I left a few jobs because I had no idea of what was possible (and neither did my boss). Having multiple paths to explore can open up valuable conversations and go a long ways in retaining talent. Pair that with a new tool that “recommends the training or education someone needs to better perform his or her existing job and to progress.” GE is making clever use of new analytics and algorithmic tools to retain employees.