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The new ‘Edflix’ model of education

Education these days can be delivered in a similar fashion to how we enjoy our entertainment. It is an “on-demand, Netflix” education model, where students are choosing what, when and how they study, according to Macquarie Business School Professor Lan Snell.

The school launched a Global MBA in May this year in partnership with US online learning platform Coursera.

Such models are the way of the future as “the nature of work and workers are fundamentally changing,” Snell says.

“The education sector is facing unprecedented challenges. There is significant pressure across the education pipeline to re-think, re-shape, and re-imagine curriculum design, content consumption, learning interactions, and delivery.

“The education landscape will be tech-inspired but user-driven, with blended-hybrid learning models that offer students choice in what, when, and how they learn. I call this the Edflix model.”

Asked about her interest in future-inspired education models, Snell said: “I am passionate about diversity, accessibility and inclusion. One way to realise this is through experimenting with distributed models of education.

“Building ecosystems that are truly collaborative means re-thinking who we regard as competitors and an understanding that the power has shifted from the provider to the consumer.

“The rise of democratised models enables a broader footprint where the unrepresented have access, where technology can enhance the learning experience, where connection and community are fundamental to inclusive learning.”

Snell says we have traditionally had a “front-loaded model of education, where most of the formal education is done in one place, typically at the beginning of a career”.

“But now, to keep apace of those constant changes in the marketplace, we need to continually reskill, upskill and retrain ourselves, and that’s the spirit of life-long learning.

“We need to provide an array of different sizes and shapes of learning to cater for life-long learning.

“We see the impact on education providers as they are being disrupted by these changes and therefore respond by catering for very different learner profiles.”

But while Snell says these new technologies will not spell the end of the traditional degree she argues they will no longer be enough on their own.

“As workplaces move away from silo models towards project-based models that bring together multidisciplinary teams to solve problems, workers will need to continually adapt and pick up new skills, depending on the project at hand.

“People now are being employed more on a team or project base, rather than for a domain of expertise, which is assumed,” she says.

Another reason for the growth in learning platforms are external students looking to upskill for improved career opportunities.

“We need to provide an array of different sizes and shapes of learning to cater for life-long learning and that’s where this concept of ‘Edflix’ comes in, where, just as with Netflix where we are in control as consumers, the consumption of education is in the hands of the learner, who is able to consume as much or as little as they want, when they want and how they want,” Snell says.

“With Netflix we can binge-watch, or we can watch one episode at a time; the algorithms of Netflix factor in previous viewing behaviour to present a curated predictive approach to suggested titles… we can use this as an analogy when we think about learning models of the future.

“And now, newer entrants to the market are players like LinkedIn which, with its recent acquisition of Lynda.com, a website offering video courses taught by experts in software, creative and business skills, have signalled their intention to compete as a learning platform,” Snell says.

She adds: “Employers today want to see evidence of continuous learning on a job applicant’s resume, including micro-credentials such as badges, which are bite-sized, low-cost online courses that show proficiency in a particular skill.

“Having these micro-credentials tells me as a recruiter or employer that you are constantly investing in your learning.

“While an individual short course in itself may not have much saliency or credibility, when you consider it as a holistic profile in terms of a candidate, it tells you a lot about a person.”

Founded by Stanford Professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller, Coursera offers a wide array of online courses, specialisations and degrees.

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