From education to employment

Could e-learning represent the future of vocational training?

Anna Stepanoff, CEO & Founder of Wild Code School

The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic is causing considerable challenges for us all, impacting all industries and sectors. Its impact on education has been significant, with near-total closures of schools, colleges and universities worldwide.

Technology training organisations have also been similarly challenged, although some providers, including Wild Code School, have been able to migrate activities online to ensure educational continuity for students. And as a technology bootcamp, we are well placed to do this, with the technological know-how and proven remote learning methodologies already in place within all courses. This period is of course still challenging student training habits, forcing us to adapt to remote practice in all scenarios, but could it also represent a future shift towards e-learning?

Digital transition

Until recently, a reliable connection to a broadband network was still a major obstacle to online training’s accessibility, especially when it came to live remote training. However, access to a fibre network from almost everywhere in the Western world has been a game changer, enabling connectivity and access to learning tools such as interactive webinars for consumers and participants across the world.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) have been fully established and accessible since 2012. On these online learning platforms, resources are freely accessible to students who can choose the pace of learning that is best suited to them and their personal preferences. MOOC are particularly well suited to autonomous individuals who are looking to upskill or acquire new skills to develop their careers.

In recent years, the tools and technology available have grown rapidly and been introduced to ensure an even higher quality of online courses. Video conferencing platforms, online chat and communication tools, as well as document sharing capabilities have helped accelerate the possibility of indirect interactions and made it possible for instructors or course tutors and lecturers to remotely interact with a community of students. Although online courses have been around for many years, they provide a shining example of efficient, practical and effective remote working.

Effective remote working

As the majority of us have discovered during this period of worldwide lockdown, working from home requires a new set of skills that we’ve not yet acquired. It is making us rethink our working habits and adapt to new tools and practices, forcing us to be more than flexible and agile than ever before.

Remote working requires effective communication, both written and verbal. Without the face-to-face human interactions that we’re used to, we must rely on emails, live video meetings, phone calls and messages to disseminate information, make decisions, and stay connected. Making sure meetings and phone calls have clear objectives, time limits and agreed outcomes is critical to ensuring communication supports overall efficiency. Autonomy is similarly crucial. Without the commute to work, external meetings or lunch breaks with colleagues, organisation and discipline are needed to manage the day and ensuring work tasks remain on track and are on completed.

Trust and transparency are also both important when it comes to effective remote working. Without the luxury of checking up on each other at the office, we must rely on trust to ensure everyone is getting their work done and coping with their workload. We need to be transparent with our colleagues, instructors, and students to establish trust and ensure everyone is aligned on common values and goals. More in times of crisis than ever, we must be transparent and aware not only of what’s happening at work, but also outside of it.

Developing inspiration

In terms of effective remote working and taking inspiration from others, web developers in particular have many best practices to share that everyone can learn from.

Developers are seasoned at working in a range of settings – within companies, for agencies, or for themselves in a freelance capacity – and more often than not, they need to work online with colleagues across countries, time zones and even continents. Being adaptable, autonomous and flexible is absolutely critical. 

In the world of tech – remote or otherwise – things change very quickly. Managers leave, teams reorganise, projects can be shortened, extended or even cancelled. As a result, developers often need to take over other people’s code, collaborate with new team members, or re-evaluate objectives in order to proceed effectively. Developers must be proactive by asking questions and learning quickly so they can adapt effectively to ever-changing working conditions. 

Now more than ever, having both digital and soft skills – online and offline – is essential for developers. Nearly half of all developers work remotely in some capacity, now our students, learning to code remotely, are looking to join their ranks. Adaptability, proactivity, and communication are not only essential skills for the tech industry, but also for discovering opportunities in challenging situations.

Future shift?

This period of imposed isolation and lockdown has forced us to rethink how we work and test new methodologies. Once we are through the other side of this current crisis, remote working will surely become a more sought-after skill for employers. Online learning allows individuals to develop autonomy, rigour and the ability to organise yourself more efficiently. Successfully completing an e-learning course could prove to be a useful asset.

It’s predicted that the health crisis will be followed by a period of economic downturn, which could significantly reduce the purchasing power of consumers, including for their education. Businesses could be similarly affected, with investment in staff training and development potentially reduced. Individuals and businesses may increasingly look at online training as a more efficient and cost-effective alternative in the future, saving the cost of premises and enabling the sharing of resources.

Face-to-face training certainly won’t disappear, but it will be increasingly complemented by online training, attracting new audiences. Rural inhabitants will be able to access quality training opportunities, which are often less developed in countryside areas. Similarly, people who are unable to commute to a training centre or building on a daily basis will be able to follow them from home, which will help to further strengthen the mix of audiences in online courses. The current crisis has radically accelerated our collective digital transition and e-learning will continue to grow, becoming an important tool for tomorrow and not the distant future.

Anna Stepanoff, CEO & Founder of Wild Code School, the technology educator nurturing today’s digital talent

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