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Human Learning #39 — Gender diversity in Edtech, International Expansion and a meditation on Higher Ed in the neoliberal economy :)

Udacity augment their career service and look to Brazil for growth

Welcome to issue 39! No top story this week! The main coverage is on Udacity’s career service, Udemy’s international expansion to Brazil and gender representation across Edtech management boards.

My article on What should Higher Education look like in neoliberal economies

State of the MOOCS

Udacity beef up their career service — Udacity are opening up their career service to all alumni rather than as a one-off per Nanodegree. The service consists of resume/CV reviews from ‘industry professionals’ and technical interview preparation. Two strategic bits here (1) Increases the upfront value proposition (permanent career support) (2 ) Could boost their job placement stats. It may also be a defensive move against Bootcamp competitors. In either sense it would be harder for a generalist MOOC provider to offer this, their uses are far less valuable and dispersed across many subjects –here

Diversifying senior management — In a previous post I covered eLearninginside’s attempt to uncover diversity in the Edtech world, most companies were vague. Coursera have now promoted two more women to senior leadership positions — Kim Caldbeck, Chief Marketing Officer and Leah Belsky for Enterprise Development (both internal promotions). With 12 on their leadership, they now have 50% women.

How does that compare? Udacity have 4/9 (44%) of their leadership as women, edX 3/8 (38%) FutureLearn ~3/8 (38%), Pluralsight 2/8 (25%) 2U (18%) but the sausage award goes to…. Udemy 1/7 (14%) (sources taken from leadership pages) — here

Speaking of Udemy — they’ve opened up an office in Sao Paulo, the business capital of Brazil — The platform is adding 250 Portuguese language courses a month and is seeing huge demand from the country. Brazil has a notoriously weak Higher Education system (in quality and capacity) explaining the appetite for online learning as well as their own MOOC platform. Udemy’s office presence will be to develop strategic partnerships, marketing and expand their enterprise growth — here

Refugee support — Coursera for Refugees has taught 11K unique learners (mostly English language and IT), FutureLearn has launched 30 scholarships with Dublin City University — here and here?

Edtech’s next stage is intimacy– Amy Ahearn of Acumen+ writes in Edsurge that while the first stage of MOOCs were all about big numbers, the next stage is all about ‘intimacy, less cave more honeycomb. Had she availed herself of the market place she’d know that some already did that — NovoEd began with small groups as the basic unit, 2U have the ‘no backrow’ and Coursera and FutureLearn both have groups. — here

Edtech’s Business

How much is WeWork worth? — Not nearly as much as they claim according to FT analysis. FT compared WeWork’s raw numbers with comparable coworking space companies likes Regus — if you add up the revenue, customer base and location then they estimate WeWork is worth around $3–4bn — it is valued at $40bn. Why the huge discrepancy? In short branding but specifically WeWork have convinced investors that the future looks like them and that they are almost alone in building it — they are a byword for the future of working — co-working tech startups, on site education, beer and coffee in post industrial chic (they must’ve thought of having their own VC arm). It could work — they could grow rapidly enough, leveraging the brand but it could also burst when the new shinier thing catches investors eyes — here

Duolingo is using LGBTQ inclusive language — here


When education pushes women out of the workplace? — The last month has seen two women’s role in the workplace gain attention as women in Saudi Arabia were allowed to drive. The Economist’s latest article on female participation in the workforce in India shows just how much work there is to do — even when education is available and regulation is not prohibitive.

Despite greater equality under the law, India women have a lower participation in the labour force than women do in Saudi Arabia. Worse, it’s dropping — with development. In fact rural, uneducated women are much more likely to work than urban, educated women.

There isn’t a single answer but a key factor is cultural. Poorer women essentially have to work, but in urban areas -where there are better-paying jobs — graduates marry and when the husband earns enough the wife is pressured to drop out of the workforce to look after the family.

This is a huge cost, in literal terms, gender parity in labour force could raise Indian GDP 25% but the costs are greater when it’s considered women tend to invest more in the family such as their children’s health and education.

There isn’t a clear path forward. One would be to get men to do more housework (reducing the need for a woman to spend all her time at home). Two would be to have better maternity leave and flexible schemes to allow women to return to work. In either sense, it’s a pressing problem the government must address — here

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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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