We know it is important to equip students with the right skills. But education should not end after graduation. Now, more than ever, every worker should embrace lifelong learning.
“I think that continuing education, or more generally lifelong learning, is no longer optional. It’s a requirement to keep up with quickly changing environments and regulations,” lawyer Mars Veloso, CEO of learning management platform Apptitude, told Digital Life Asia.
New perspective on education
“Being a bank teller today might seem like a stable job. But as UnionBank has clearly shown, these jobs can be replaced by machines in the span of a year. The BPO industry is under threat by chatbots. There have been promising AI developments in the medical fields. As an example, radiology may be quickly eclipsed in the coming years with better pattern detections.With this digital milieu, the only option to those potentially affected by the shifting tides is a new perspective on education. One geared towards optionality rather than job security.”
According to Veloso, the simple idea behind Apptitude is to “connect school to work through a verifiable pipeline.”
He pointed out that the current process is cumbersome in today’s digital world.
Learning management system
“To illustrate, after I graduate, I have to secure my diploma and my transcript. This usually takes two to three weeks of paperwork, legwork, payments, and administrative bureaucracy. I show these credentials to my employer as proof of my capacity to work. The employer hires a third-party background checker to, among other things, validate that my submissions are true.
“What if, after I finish a class, the school certifies that I finished that class. And qualified employers can verify the same through a private repository? In the same vein, qualified employers can request schools: ‘Please make a class that is relevant to my business.’ For example, data visualization and journalism, or natural language processing in the domain of biomedical texts. There doesn’t seem to be a pipeline that links the scholastic identity with the career one and vice versa. There doesn’t seem to be a link between schools that train and businesses that hire. So I decided to build one. We’re starting with the learning management system but our objectives are to be an employment passport and a skills engine,” Veloso said.
Veloso cited three main advantages of Apptitude over competitors. These are integrated payments, authenticated learning, and customizable development.
“Authenticated learning means that we can verify the identity of the learner by his / her student ID through bank-grade facial recognition techniques. Should the school desire (and the learner consents to the same), we can extend this KYC (know your customer) practice during the course itself so that random screenshots are taken of the learner. This is an explicit requirement for MCLE (Mandatory Continuing Legal Education) found in promulgated rules of the Supreme Court.
“Finally, customizable development means that we’re in this for the long haul with our partner institutions. We’ll develop functions that they want included into the system. As opposed to them adjusting to an alien system’s needs, we give our partners the ability to shape the system itself,” Veloso said.
Blockchain for certification
Another thing that sets Apptitude apart is that it issues certificates on the blockchain.
“The appeal of blockchain certificates is their ability to be unalterable. The issuance makes the record permanent and if the issuance is made by an authorized institution, like a school, then that record becomes credible and usable throughout the recipient’s entire life. It’s the premiere mark of academic validation.
“Our goal is to collect these certificates into a ledger — an employment passport that can augment resumes. I’m aware of other companies offering blockchain certificates, but I think we’re the first to offer a learning management system, employment passport, and skills engine all wrapped up in a single ecosystem,” Veloso said.
Outbreak of webinars
With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing people to stay home, everyone seems to be holding webinars nowadays. Unfortunately, hosting a webinar is one thing. Making it interesting is another. What tips can Veloso give to those who are hosting webinars?
“The number one element I think is brevity. The prime currency of the web today is attention. If you waste that attention with unimportant moments, I think this prevents value from being created on the part of the learner. This is because we’re still in the phase of trying to apply offline practices to an online world. Hence, the susceptibility to exit live courses and webinars.
“Another element is relevance to the individual. I’d like to point out that the Course Recommendation System that we’re building will seek to bridge the gap between a student’s current knowledge and relevant skills in the marketplace. In Apptitude, we encourage the combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning, with an emphasis on brevity of structured content and the use of various interactive mechanisms like quizzes, presentation slides, and podcasts.
“Lastly, there’s the incentive element. The addition of automatic certificate generation at the end of the course serves as a better incentive for the learner and institution as opposed to manually recording attendance that’s present in the recent pop-up webinars,” Veloso said.
Online learning in the new normal
Does Veloso see an increased demand for online training in the post-pandemic world?
“In the near term, the numbers will definitely rise. A hockey stick-like trajectory is even possible with greater connectivity. I do expect though an increase in demand if only to assuage the fears of future interruption. May they be in the form of pandemics, typhoons, and other emergencies that prevent face-to-face interactions between the learner and the educator. Already we see our legislators and regulatory agencies moving towards this direction,” he said.
The digital society is no longer the stuff of science fiction but of science fact. And lifelong learning is our passport to this brave new world.