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Human Learning #37 – What’s that I see on the horizon? Is it a digital labour market?

Digital labour markets and some minor moves in the market

Welcome to issue 37, a much-shortened issue. Slow news fortnight. The main thing to flag is I’m aiming to cover a bit more of the digitisation of the labour market in coming issues – it’s a trend that’s been in the back of my mind, albeit fragmented. Enjoy.

As ever, I always appreciate your comments so just hit respond for questions, suggestions etc. 

Top story

Edtech’s move to the primetime underscores structural shifts in the economy – Mary Meeker, doyenne of the tech venture capital world has released her annual report of trends in technology – which this year included lifelong learning. Meeker noted that 50% of freelancers update skills within the last 6 months and that this was in parallel with the growth of lifelong learning platforms – she noted Coursera had now hit 33m.

There is of course, more to this than MOOCs, Youtube learning videos get more than 1bn views per day and this will increase as Generation Z (according to a Pearson survey done this year)  are even more comfortable with using technology to learn with 47% using apps and 47% watching more than 3 hours of video content (educational or otherwise) per day.

None of this is particularly noteworthy. The noteworthy elements sit further back, it is the recognition that Lifelong learning is now a permanent and mostly digital trend in the labour market. Lifelong learning is of couse being driven by technological change and automation. This in turn has made reskilling and/or upskilling a permanent feature of the labour market landscape rather than a response to one-off events (e.g. outsourcing in the 90s).
Most of the focus has been on the digitisation of Education but in fact the bigger picture is the digitisation of the labour market itself. This is most famous captured in
LinkedIn’s Economic Graph – literally aiming for the labour market to transact on LinkedIn. More likely though is a huge marketplace of niche players emerging – that complete the chain between job seeker and jobs – job advertising, competency and skill testing, learning, algorithmic assessment of needed skills and data to understand the predictive performance once seekers are in jobs. This will have important implications for MOOC platforms (and all Edtech providers) as the likelihood is that they’ll need coordinate (or develop in-house) with other platforms  (job postings, testing etc) in order to complete the value chain. I’ll be covering more of this in the coming weeks – but it is this trend that sits behind Meeker’s inclusion of Lifelong learning in her trend- here, here and here

State of the MOOCS

edX announces their strategy – a 100m learners, Stackable Micromasters, AR/V,. Growth + BAU + Buzzwords – here

Edtech’s Business

Forbes have launched their own skill platform – in partnership with Bridgepoint Education. The platform will teach IT, entrepreneurship, software Sales and Business. I see this as as the result of a bold executive hopping on the bandwagon in the hope of a burgeoning new revenue stream that will propel the aforementioned executive to CEO. It’s not a terrible idea, they have the key bit – eyeballs – but it’s not obvious they have any USP or that it really complements their existing strengths – I’d have been more impressed if they built out an online program at the Exec Ed end of the market around news, media and communication  – here

Triloy Education raise $50m – Trilogy Education partner with anxious Universities to deliver coding bootcamps to select students. Although there has been some eyebrows raised over the students being unclear who is responsible (the University or Trilogy) they have been broadly successful with partners such as UC Berkeley. Trilogy base their portfolio in part on skill demand in the local economy. Part of the reason – as Trilogy’s CEO suggests – for their success is ride off the brand of the university and secondly reduce their cost base by sharing facilities etc – here


Nature’s obituary of Seymour Papert – Recycling this 2016 piece. It’s an excellent obituary for someone who achieved so much. Among the highlights: Papert saw computers like ‘gears’ on a bike – a way for everyone to find a comfortable way to learn, he was marked a dissident by the South African government for teaching black staff, was a founding member of the MIT media lab with Marvin Minsky, is credited with starting the modern ‘maker movement’ as well as the original force behind the one laptop per child – here

Just keep SHARING. If you have any thoughts please write back to me.

Human Learning is a newsletter written by Chris Fellingham. You can signup for it here and find other Edtech articles by Chris Fellingham on his medium page

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Chris Fellingham

To stop himself dying of boredom in a former job Chris discovered MOOCs. It was a short hop to working in Strategy and Insights for FutureLearn from which he was inescapably drawn to to trying to understand the macro forces at work. Otherwise Chris is a policy wonk, a political geek and a long suffering fan of Tottenham Hotspur.

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