We look at clouds and see data and apps, and we forget that they’re a medium and not just an archive or platform. In the same way, we look at online courses and MOOCs and see courses, forgetting that they’re also a medium. This is an oversight that higher ed can ill afford since the message in this medium is that learning is rising, inexorably and rapidly, from the ground to the clouds.
This is not only a switch in medium from campus to online but a quantum shift in approaches to meeting employer needs in the 21st century. Add Microsoft, EMC Corporation, Adobe, and Amazon to this path less traveled and we suddenly have a freeway.
This is what Apollo Lightspeed’s Balloon is all about. In their November 2013 survey “of approximately 300 IT and technology hiring managers,” they learned that “73 percent have a hard time finding qualified applicants in IT/technology.”1 Reading between the lines, the implication is that colleges aren’t delivering. No one should be surprised. The increasingly rapid pace of change coupled with a titanic academic tradition has left the gates wide open for Balloon and similar services that are sure to follow.
Balloon, launched today, is “an online career skills and learning marketplace featuring many of the world’s leading technology companies and education providers. Balloon addresses the growing gap between career-seekers’ skills and employers’ talent needs by helping users identify customized career paths, understand the knowledge and skills required by employers along that path, and, then learn from the right courses to improve their chances in a competitive labor market.”
Suddenly, with a single stroke, we’re looking past our vaunted colleges and universities toward a swifter, simpler path to jobs and security. In this cloud scenario, higher ed, as is, will continue to play a part, but the outlook for their dominance is deflating.
In the coming months, it will be interesting to see how education leaders respond to this new trend in which employers, employees, job seekers, and students look to balloons for qualified workers, professional development, jobs, and certification.
1 “The New Path from Education to Employment: Apollo Lightspeed Launches Balloon to Connect Revolutionary Online Learning Skills and Courses with In-Demand, Career-Relevant Skills,” press release, 3/4/14.
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