One solution to “upskilling” roadblocks

The proliferation of knowledge in the online age is vast and wonderful. Narrowing down all the possibilities into curated curricula, on the other hand, remains difficult. Even within dedicated online learning platforms, so many offerings are presented that the casual learner can easily get overwhelmed. Online learning platforms can reduce choice overload by organizing various courses into curated “class schedules” and offering a smaller subset of these schedules to viewers, reducing choice overload and creating tangible pathways that will help “upskill” the workforce.

Companies have various education programs for their employees nowadays: orientation videos, corporate compliance training, Zoom recordings of specific topics, and access to at least a couple online learning platforms (Coursera, LinkedIn Learning, DuoLingo, Headspace, etc.). Beyond the set compliance courses employees have to trudge through every year, little thought is given for organizing course options on a platform (let alone across multiple platforms) to help people learn and develop mastery of new skills.

Consider a person who wants to develop their abilities in “business analytics”. Depending on their job and background, their top needs may include improving data manipulation (advanced Excel, SQL), data fluency and presentation (PowerPoint, Tableau, Python), or business acumen (industry trends, managing a small team, better time management and delegation). If you tell a person all of this, and show them a lot of courses across these areas, chances are that they’re going to feel overwhelmed and stick to the status quo: not taking a course, and maybe looking for help in online forums when a new problem arises.

Consider another scenario, run through a company’s “upskilling” program for ease of explanation. An employee takes a short diagnostic, evaluating their skills in several of these areas. Based on the results, they see areas of improvement, and are asked to click on a couple areas they want to prioritize first. From the previous business analytics example, data manipulation and time management might be the two chosen topics. Instead of an array of courses to choose from, a curated schedule can be created using available courses, laying out specific skills and a learning roadmap that helps retain and improve skills learned. One skill tree for “time management” might include a short intro course on a couple techniques to stay on task, with the next recommended course shown in the sequence focused on developing prioritization methods.

These skill trees should only show a little bit to start off, with an option to click through more branched options if people want. Just-in-time telling to hint at “what’s next”, and tailoring learning to specific needs and specific desired outcomes, provides context to reinforce these curated schedules. Overall, these collections can provide better pathways to get people into the habit of upskilling as lifelong learners.

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