Friday, November 06, 2015

"an end to the college degree’s unprecedented run as the only credential that matters" via @skonnard

This week I had the pleasure of briefly meeting Aaron Skonnard, CEO of Pluralsight, at an event in the College. Pluralsight provides a vast library of on-line courses in areas ranging from personal development to programming. The College has signed up to Pluralsight and many of our IT students use this as an extra resource - especially for project work. 

Image source: LA Times.
Coincidentally I read a post in Techcrunch by Aaron this week entitled "Edtech’s Next Big Disruption Is The College Degree", in which he predicts that by the end of 2020 that "the traditional degree will have made room on its pedestal for a new array of modern credentials that are currently gaining mainstream traction as viable measures of learning, ability and accomplishment". He makes a strong argument that the centuries old traditions of going to college and graduating with a degree is now being challenged - "powerful forces are converging to challenge the assumption that a college degree is the only way". He points to "monumentals skills gaps" in the workplace and in graduates that a degree does not fill. Qualifications such as "badges, course certificates and dynamic assessments" are gaining more currency in the workplace where specific skill sets are required.

While I'm not in agreement that 2020 is a likely timeline for a "new credentialing movement to reach its tipping point", or that a KPI dashboard approach to "vet, assess and track the skills and abilities" of graduates - I do agree that technology will revolutionize the degree system. Richard Branson recently stated that "university course lengths should be halved" - perhaps technology and credentialing will achieve this?

Education pioneers such as Aaron Skonnard will succeed in turning our traditional systems up-side-down - it's inevitable. Remember the six most dangerous words in the English language? "We've always done it this way"!


  1. Much as I might like to believe this, every time I read about it they give the example of coding skills. There is a serious world-wide shortage of coders and employers will take anyone they can verify as competent no matter how they achieved that competence. Can someone give an example of where alternative credentials are being accepted in other professions?

    1. Yes exactly. That claim is bogus, learning to code takes time (I am not talking about Scratch here), a large proportion of those who try fail.
      While you could produce narrow-skilled programmers quicker, this is exactly what the industry is moving away from.