Education Posts

Five New Paths to Self-Education for Career Development

It seems like 2015 is going to be the year of revolutionary educational models. Every few days, a new startup seems to appear with a new vision for how people can learn, grow, or even teach, all on their own.

But even as the long-smoldering debate over whether and how (and how much) to disrupt the university model starts to produce some actual flames, it seems like the demand for new learning methods isn’t coming from a lack of faith in the old, but rather from someplace unexpected: Career development.

Personal development is a big part of it, too—learning to play guitar on YouTube is only the tip of that iceberg—but the thing that really seems to be driving these new sites, systems and software is the idea that what you learned in college isn’t going to be enough to carry you through your career anymore.

In the past 10 years, some things became obvious: Marketers needed to learn HTML. Product designers needed to learn programming code. Programmers needed to learn design. And so on.

Our career silos are breaking down, and in response we need to keep up. And a 15-year-old college degree isn’t going to help with that. That’s why the self-education industry is booming, and sites that make self-guided education easy (like Skillset.com) are prospering.

Here are five types of self-education models that have become extremely popular in recent years, and the best E-learning sites within each category:

 

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

Just a few years ago, Massive Open Online Courses made the biggest splash of any category here, because they were a complete disruption of the university model by universities. They rose to prominence when esteemed professors from Stanford University decided to offer free courses online (via telecommute) to anyone who wanted to attend—whether that be several hundred or more than a million.

Since then, universities have experimented in these courses so commonly that they it’s barely notable when a new one launches, but they have the advantage over other self-education methods of (often) being live presentations, and giving students access to legitimate, university-level content for free, from anywhere.

Here are the best sources for MOOCs:

Online Classes, Misunderstood Expertise and Futuristic Bull**t: This Week in Skills

We saw a bevy of news and commentary this week that indicates the modern education and skills assessment industry is becoming restless with the status quo. Cutting-edge educational models are now covering cutting-edge concepts, innovation is making everyone look like an expert, and people answered one million questions on Skillset.com.

 

The Future of Education

The next generation of education and learning tech continues to be driven and influenced by the things that modern workers are already doing, as John A. Byrne noted that the best new Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) center on leadership, finance and—believe it or not—3D Printing.

This aligns with the general sense many have had over the past couple of years that the contemporary “maker” culture of creating, building and selling one’s own product, which is so popular among millennials, will continue to creep into the world of higher education.

The edX blog is frightening purists again by publishing survey results showing that 87% of students say they gain as much or more from online courses as they do from traditional in-person classes, and disagreement may not matter if you agree with Steven Mintz, who reimagined undergraduate education this week by embracing “the ideal of the student as the creator of knowledge.”

 

Career Planning and Development

Robert Scoble implored us to see through futuristic bulls**t by focusing on substance over buzz, which dovetails nicely with Penelope Trunk’s anecdote about how the invention of the tractor made young people seem like expert farmers overnight, even though they weren’t.

They were actually just experts in farm machinery, and eventually needed to find that extra source of knowledge, experience, and vision to truly become great at what they were doing.

The analogy, of course, is Generation Y and their superficial expertise with the Internet. Turns out you also need experience to think strategically. That, and good lunch manners during your interview.

 

Professional Certification

On the home front, Skillset added 500 much-requested situational questions to its PMP exam sample question database, which surely helped on the way to eclipsing 1 million questions answered by our insatiable userbase.

Elsewhere in project management, Conrado Morlan advised project managers to “see success first” if they want to think like an elite project management professional, and Andy Jordan reminded us that project managers need to work well with program managers if they want to achieve that success.

 

Every week, we go through the best writing and news about education, career development and professional certification and review it here. Check back often to stay up to date on the future of learning technology.

Lessons Learned from 1 Million Exam Practice Questions Answered

We’ve just hit a big milestone at Skillset, which comes with a lot of reflection, advancement and realizations about the “new normal” the site has entered in 2015. It’s all very exciting and insightful, so we wanted to share our experiences publicly and transparently.

First, the milestone: As of this week, Skillset.com users have answered more than 1,000,000 questions!

That’s one million. With an ‘M’. That means that our (very dedicated) users and visitors have clicked “submit” while answering one of our thousands of certification practice questions many thousands of times per day over the last few months.

Of course, after one million sample questions answered, we’ve learned quite a bit.

 

How did we get to one million questions answered?

 

The short answer to this question is that we have more than 100,000 sample questions available, so this milestone was almost inevitable. What we didn’t expect was how quickly our users would get there.

Skillset.com users are now answering more than 10,000 questions per day. Only a few months after we launched the site in earnest, that is a truly surprising number.

The reason, however, is fairly simple: Anyone preparing to take a professional certification exam knows they need to practice. And they can (and do) practice endlessly on Skillset, while rarely seeing the same question twice.

 

Skillset.com and The Future of Training: An Interview With Darren Dalasta

We will be regularly interviewing leaders in career development, education, skills assessments, human resources and other relevant industries here on the Skillset blog. We like interviews because they start a literal conversation, and they allow everyone to step back for a minute to talk about the bigger picture.

For our inaugural interview, it’s only appropriate that we interview Darren Dalasta, a founding member of the team here at Skillset.com. In this interview, Dalasta explains the story behind Skillset, how it impacts the training and professional certification climate, and where he sees education and career development a year from now.

 

What was the inspiration behind Skillset.com? Why did the Skillset team decide to create it?

Skillset exists because we heard the cry from IT professionals for more and better practice questions for their certification exams. There aren’t many places where you can get access to thousands of practice questions to see if you’re ready for the test. We want to provide free, exponential access to practice questions and tests.

The most-used options prior to this were to use downloaded, stolen exam questions and feel guilty about it, buy very expensive (and short) practice tests if you could find them somewhere, or use the same questions over and over again.

We had the experience to create something people wanted, and hopefully build an intelligent service on top of it that will eventually help them understand and learn how to expand their skills and skillsets to something far beyond practicing for a certification exam.

 

Launching Skillset: A New Way to Develop Your Career

We launched Skillset.com in late 2014 with a fairly simple goal: Make it easier, faster, and more gainful to prepare for professional certifications that advance your career. Since then, we’ve added over 100,000 questions to our proprietary testing engine, and we’ve built out countless individualized skills that allow you to test yourself against them one by one—all for free.

Here at the beginning, we plan to keep adding questions, skills and resources by the truckload, of course. Providing free, up-to-date, intuitive test preparation for certifications is our guiding purpose. But we have to admit—we’re up to more than that.

We want to change the way people think about career advancement, and the way people achieve it. To do that, we need to change the way people think about education in general.

In large part, that’s what this blog is for. Not only to discuss Skillset and what you can use it for, but also to discuss the future of education. We see education as moving from a hurdle one crosses to an endeavor you never stop pursuing. We want it to move from a qualification for a job to being a part of the job. And we want the skills you acquire to stop being static claims on your resume and start being a proven, concrete framework that defines the best and most recent version of you.

Those are big claims, we know. But we aren’t just going to make claims. We’re going to prove them. That’s what we help our users do, and that’s what we believe in.