Looking for your next career opportunity? BC’s life science companies are hiring!

When thinking about Vancouver’s technology hub, it’s easy to gravitate towards thinking about companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Hootsuite and Slack. While these are certainly great companies, what you may not realize is that Canada and BC in particular is a growing hotbed for the life sciences.

According to Gordon McCauley, President and CEO of adMare BioInnovations, when it comes to the life sciences, Canada is a research powerhouse.  With only .5 percent of the world’s population Canada generates 5% of the innovative output, punching far above its weight class. adMare’s mission is to help translate academic life science research into promising new Canadian companies that can scale, helping existing Canadian life science companies scale-up and helping create the next generation of business leaders and innovators that will drive the growth and success of these companies.

For those of you interested in launching an exciting career into a growing and thriving industry, you should definitely be looking at BC’s life science companies. Many people may not realize the variety of amazing opportunities that exist within these organizations, which not only include science and technology roles but also a whole host of business, marketing, human resources, sales, administration, management and leadership roles.

Vancouver and the Lower Mainland are host to a growing list of exciting life science companies, including success stories like STEMCELL Technologies, Zymeworks, AbCellera Biologics, Aspect Biosystems, Precision NanoSystems and Notch Therapeutics.

Imagine working for companies who helps create antibodies for combating Covid-19, treatments for cancer, leverage state of the art technologies like machine learning to radically speed up therapeutic drug discoveries, utilize the power of DNA to target and cure genetic diseases or supplying the worlds research scientists with stem cells and innovative lab products that will help contribute to countless future breakthroughs!

Here are just a few of the companies that current have open positions. You just may find your next career in the life sciences!

adMare BioInnovations

STEMCELL Technologies

Zymeworks

AbCellera Biologics

Aspect Biosystems

Precision NanoSystems

Notch Therapeutics

For a more complete list of BC’s Life science companies, visit Life Sciences British Columbia.

Re-inventing our Future – Do you really want to go back to the way things were?

The road ahead…

I was inspired by a recent article I found on LinkedIn written by Joseph McLaughlin called I’m not going back.

Before the pandemic, my life was pretty hectic. As parent with 2 teenagers who both play competitive soccer, my days we filled with constant activity. Between work, teaching, kids, school and being on the soccer field at least 5 days a week, there was seldom any downtime or time to reflect on life and how we were living it. Life was a constant blur and catching a breath was illusive and always seemed to be just out of reach. Caught on the hamster wheel of life, I was so busy trying to make ends meet that life was passing me by. And then in an instant, everything changed.

Rethinking our lives and our place in the universe is not something that usually fits conveniently into our busy schedules. About the only way this becomes a priority is after a traumatic life event or major loss we experience. We become so caught up in the immediate future that we can become completely blind to the bigger picture and lose sight of where we are, how we got there and where we actually want to go. If we are not consciously deciding our future, we risk becoming lost or worse yet, having our futures decided for us. I can tell you through experience it’s easy to unintentionally let your life slip into autopilot and with the pandemic, my life was abruptly thrust out of autopilot and into manual.

As we experience this global pause in our lives, I want to you think about your life and your world before things were turned upside down. If you had the power to create the world the way you wanted it to look, would this have been what you had in mind?  I am reminded of a quote by Franklin Covey to “Begin with the End in Mind”.  If the world were a clean slate, and you could deliberately and consciously choose its form, how would you change it for the better and why?

Here’s an idea of what things would look like though my eyes.

First, I have to say, I’m not missing commuting. I’d like to see a world in which flexible working arrangements exist and employers around the world maintain the opportunities for team members to work remotely when possible. I’d like a world where work and family can co-exist and thrive together. What would a world look like with 4-day work weeks? What if we actually took the time to place people into careers that they actually cared about and were actually a good fit for?

I see a world in which I have the time to connect with my kids and my wife every day. We take the time to prepare and share meals together and enjoy and taste the food, have real conversations where we actually put away all our devices and distractions and listen to each other.

I’ve been enjoying getting to know my neighbors and saying hello to all the people in my community I see on my walks. We are stronger together. I see a world where people have a lot more empathy and respect for each other and think more about what they can give the world and less about what they can take. Life has meaning through our connections with each other.

I’ve been loving my walks and hikes. I see a world in which we deeply appreciate and respect nature and take the time to connect with it on a regular basis. Just getting outside instantly improves my mood and makes me appreciate clean air and the beauty the exist all around me just steps from my door.

Without your health, what do you really have? This pandemic has shown us just how quickly this precious gift can be taken away. I definitely appreciate the importance of health a lot more now and have been taking the time to work on my own personal health while I am at home. I see a world in which quality healthcare is readily available to all who need it and where the doctors and health care providers that deliver it, are celebrated and treated with the respect they deserve. A world in which people are taking the time and care to monitor and maintain their health throughout their lives is a beautify thing!

Do you want to know what you really value? Just look at where your time and money are going to right now. I’m not worried about buying a fancy car, owning a big house, flying off to some exotic destination or wearing fancy clothes. I’m trying my best to make sure my family has food and a roof over their head, that we are making an effort to be kind to each other, that my son and daughter are learning how to learn and develop new skills, that they are thinking about their future and paying attention to what’s happening in the world. I have also been teaching myself new skills and sharpening my leadership abilities every chance I get. I see the situation right now as an opportunity to re-invent myself, my career and my family and maybe even my world.

Moving forward, what do you want your life to look like? What do you want our country to look like? What do you want our world to look like? The choice is ours. Do you really want to go back to the way things were?

Laid off? Shifting from Earning to Learning

A good chunk of the world has been effectively put on pause and millions of people have been laid off due to no fault of their own. I have first-hand experience with what unemployment is like and how to battle through it and want to take the time to share some of my thoughts.

First off, I want you to realize that this is not your fault. Second, as challenging as this may get, I want you to realize that this is not a permanent situation. Your job right now is to find way to endure and move forward while we all work together to battle and defeat Covid-19. This is a mental game and there are some tools you can use to increase your odd of winning.

Your normal routine is out the window and you’ve likely been spending the last month or so trying to find a new rhythm that works. If you are at home and happen to have a family, then you’ll likely have a full house, which can be a challenge in and of itself.

I’m going to tell you first-hand that you’ll need to be on the lookout for two very powerful enemies. These are depression and despair. Not just in you, but in your family members and friends. Early detection and prevention are important.

Depression can set in when we feel like we’ve lost control of our lives and things are slipping away on us. I want you to take this to heart, you are valuable and matter regardless of your employment situation. You need to find ways to focus on things you can control and let go of the things you can’t.

Now let’s talk about despair. Despair shows up when you start having the sense that nothing you are doing is having any effect. Here’s what I’ve learned through experience. Even though it may seem to you that you’re not having an impact, quite often you are, you are just not picking up on it and there is usually a delay between your actions and the effect they have. If there is anything good we can learn from Covid-19 it’s a lesson on how interconnected and dependant we are on each other. You need us, and we need you.

So now let’s get into the main content I want to share in this post. It comes down to focusing on the things you can control and one of them is how you decide to use some of your new-found time. Since my background is in teaching and learning, this is where I think I can help you the most.

It’s going to be really tough right now finding work for a lot of people. I’m not saying you shouldn’t keep an eye out and by all means, if you see something come up it doesn’t hurt to apply. You can set up a routine to check for opportunities, but I can tell you for experience, you can become obsessive in your search, so try not to go overboard.

I’ve always held the motto that if I’m not earning, I’m learning. So this is what I propose. With a chunk of the free time you have, I want you to focus on learning and improving yourself. These tough times will end and when they do, I want you to be ready to seize the opportunities that are coming and maybe even make the jump into a new career. Also, keeping focused and busy working towards an objective is a very potent way to head depression off at the pass!

Now, if your situation is like millions of others out there, money is tight right now, so let’s talk about some low-cost ways to supercharge your learning.

Hands down, online learning is going to be your best friend. Let’s have a look at some great starting points. Remember, most of these have free or low-cost options and they can all be done online, at your own pace and have short videos you can watch and rewatch as you see fit. If this is your first time doing online learning, it’s going to be quite a bit different than traditional learning and if you give it a chance, I think you actually learn to really like it.

I also want you to change the mindset that education only counts if you get a degree, certificate or diploma. All learning is relevant and more and more top tier employers are de-emphasizing formal degrees and acknowledging alternative learning paths.

Coursera

Coursera offers hundreds of free courses give you access to on-demand video lectures, homework exercises, and community discussion forums. Paid courses provide additional quizzes and projects as well as a shareable Course Certificate upon completion.

https://www.coursera.org/

https://www.coursera.org/collections/popular-free-courses

edX

Except for professional education courses, there is no cost for taking edX courses when you enroll in the audit track, which does not offer certificates or provide graded assignments. However, if you want to be able to earn a verified certificate for a course and complete assignment, there is a fee that will vary depending on the course. The fees for the verified track usually range between $50 USD and $300 USD.

https://www.edx.org/

Udemy

Udemy offers a smorgasbord of free or very-low cost courses and have frequent flash sales. You can take a course on just about anything form this site.

Https://www.udemy.com

Khan Academy

While Khan Academy started out with a focus on math education for kids, you can find high quality, interactive content on science, engineering, computing and arts in the humanities and more!

https://www.khanacademy.org/

Udacity

Udacity began as an experiment in online learning, when Stanford instructors Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig elected to offer their “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence” course online to anyone, for free. Over 160,000 students in more than 190 countries enrolled.  Udacity has continued to grow and add to their technology and computer science-based offerings. Check out their interesting Nanodegree programs that currently have discounted prices for those facing economic challenges due to Covid-19.

https://www.udacity.com/

Lynda.com

Lynda.com is a fantastic site for those of you out there looking to upgrade your computer, software or business skills. Outside of these core subject areas, you can learn about things like photography, painting, animation, music production and even learn to play the guitar! Lynda.com first month is free and I’d recommend you check if your local library to see if they have partnered with Lynda.com to give you free access. Make sure you check out the many learning paths Lynda has created that could help you shift into a totally new career when the time is right!

http://www.lynda.com

https://www.lynda.com/learning-paths/

I recommend you find something that’s relevant and interesting to you and start with a single course.

Unlike traditional school, you can work your way through the lessons and videos at your own pace. Some courses may have an instructor you can contact when you need to, but many may not have any instructor at all. Remember to focus on developing your skills and understanding. This is not about trying to pass a frivolous test and then immediately forgetting everything a few days later. A half an hour here and an hour there over the space of a few days or weeks and you’ll have completed your first course.

I like to keep a notebook close by when I’m working through online courses, but if you feel more comfortable typing up notes, that works too.

As you progress through your courses, don’t forget to update your resume with your newly acquired skills and celebrate your victories.

Covid-19 – You are Part of the Solution

While governments around the world struggle to deal with the virus that has shaken our world, I am inspired when I see people from all walks of life, from all nations and all ages rolling up their sleeves and making the decision to find a way to help.

Each and every one of us has something we can contribute to help us get through this global challenge and perhaps come out even stronger on the other side.

It can be easy to think that if you’re not a front-line health care professional, a scientist or government official that there is really not much you can do to help the situation, but you’d be wrong.

I’ll be honest, what’s going on in the world right now is kinda scary. I have no real reference point in my life that compares to what we are seeing now. Over the past few weeks, my family and I have been hanging out at home and doing our best to maintain social distancing and only really going out when we need groceries or for a quick walk around the block with the dog. I am thankful that going for a quick walk is even a possibility, as I know for many of you it is not. I’m also thankful that we are still able to get groceries and have food in the house.

As a leader I’ve always tried to encourage my team and myself to look for ways to be part of the solution and not stay being part of the problem. And so with this in mind, I’ve been trying to find a way that I can help out somehow with this very serious and very challenging situation we all find ourselves in right now.

I’m not an engineer, so making respirators is probably not going to be my thing (but I have seen some amazing people step up here and I salute you!). I’m not a doctor or health care professional so that’s out and I’m not a medical researcher, so I’m not likely going to be the person to develop the vaccine.

Instead of focusing on what I’m not, I took the route on looking for what I am good at and how that could apply to our current situation. For starters, I happen to know quite a bit about teaching and learning, particularly when it comes online education. I know a lot of classroom teachers out there who have little or no experience in this realm. I also know a heck of a lot of parents out there with kids at home. Like me, they want to help their kids keep learning but aren’t sure where to start. Here is a problem I can definitely help with. With this in mind, I’m starting to make posts for parents and teacher and trying to help people keep learning regardless of their current situation.

Keep in mind it’s not just the kids. A large chunk of the workforce has been laid off. I know what it’s like to be out of work and it’s really important to not let despair and depression rear their ugly heads. You don’t have control over certain aspects of your life right now, which sucks. One of the things you can do is put whatever extra time you have available to learning and developing your skills and trying your best to help out where you can. I’m going to try to help people who are out of work too. There are a lot of free resources that you can leverage online to develop your skills, and I will be doing posts that will tell you all about these soon, so stay tuned.

To finish this post off, I want you to really think about what you can do for your community and your country. We all have talents and skills that can help out and I encourage you to look at the millions of little problems that are out there and see if you can be part of the solution for even 1 of them. Each and every one of us has value and each and everyone one of us matters. If you help even 1 other person get through this, we will succeed!

Ready, set, go!

25 Educational Documentaries to Check Out on Netflix

With schools still trying to come up with a plan for educating kids remotely and online, parents have been left scrambling trying to find resources and ways to help their kids keep learning.

In an effort to help keep me own kids learning and engaged while they hang out with my wife and I at home, I have compiled a list of 25 Netflix documentaries that may be worth having a look at.

Please note that while many if not most of these may be suitable for a wide range of ages, as a parent you’ll need to the judgement call.

1. 72 Dangerous Animals

https://www.netflix.com/search?q=Blackfish&jbv=80165247&jbp=2&jbr=1

2. Pick of the Litter

https://www.netflix.com/browse/genre/2243108?bc=34399&jbv=81004438&jbp=0&jbr=11

3. Naledi – A Baby Elephants Tale

https://www.netflix.com/search?q=Naledi&jbv=80135296&jbp=0&jbr=0

4. Dancing with the Birds

https://www.netflix.com/browse/genre/2243108?bc=34399&jbv=80186796&jbp=1&jbr=11

5. The Great Hack

https://www.netflix.com/browse/genre/2243108?bc=34399&jbv=80117542&jbp=1&jbr=14

6. Mission Blue

https://www.netflix.com/browse/genre/2243108?bc=34399&jbv=70308278&jbp=6&jbr=9

7. Unstoppable

https://www.netflix.com/search?q=Unstoppable&jbv=81097552&jbp=0&jbr=0

8. A Plastic Ocean

https://www.netflix.com/search?q=Oceans&jbv=80164032&jbp=2&jbr=0

9. Dirty Money

https://www.netflix.com/search?q=Dirty%20Money&jbv=80118100&jbp=0&jbr=0

10. Babies

https://www.netflix.com/search?q=Babies&jbv=80117833&jbp=0&jbr=0

11. Our Planet

https://www.netflix.com/search?q=Our%20Planet&jbv=80049832&jbp=0&jbr=0

12. Explained

https://www.netflix.com/search?q=Explained&jbv=80216752&jbp=0&jbr=0

13. Woodstock

https://www.netflix.com/search?q=Woodstock&jbv=81135868&jbp=0&jbr=0

14. The Creative Brain

https://www.netflix.com/browse/genre/2243108?bc=34399&jbv=81090128&jbp=9&jbr=21

15. Diana in her own Words

https://www.netflix.com/search?q=Diana%20in%20her%20own%20words&jbv=80221317&jbp=0&jbr=0

16. Nova – Black Hole Apocalypse

https://www.netflix.com/search?q=Nova%20-%20Black%20Hole%20Apocalypse&jbv=81121172&jbp=0&jbr=0

17. Chasing Coral

https://www.netflix.com/search?q=Chasing%20Coral&jbv=80168188&jbp=0&jbr=0

18. The Mind, Explained

https://www.netflix.com/search?q=The%20Mind%2C%20Explained&jbv=81098586&jbp=0&jbr=0

19. Forks over Knives

https://www.netflix.com/browse/genre/2243108?bc=34399&jbv=70185045&jbp=1&jbr=21

20. Inside Bill’s Brain

https://www.netflix.com/search?q=Steve%20Jobs&jbv=80184771&jbp=3&jbr=0

21. The Last Man on the Moon

https://www.netflix.com/search?q=The%20Last%20Man%20on%20the%20Moon&jbv=80087933&jbp=0&jbr=0

22. Great British Castles

https://www.netflix.com/search?q=Irish%20Castles&jbv=80095866&jbp=0&jbr=0

23. The Ascent of Women

https://www.netflix.com/title/80095865

24. Life in Space

https://www.netflix.com/browse/genre/2243108?bc=34399&jbv=80217041&jbp=5&jbr=21

25. Jane 

https://www.netflix.com/browse/genre/2243108?bc=34399&jbv=80216161&jbp=7&jbr=21

Stand and Deliver – A Parent’s Guide to Unlocking your Inner Teacher and Dealing with Covid-19 School Shutdowns

With the the widespread shutdown of schools across the world, parents have suddenly had the important role of teacher placed in their hands. While schools scramble to find ways to adapt and take teaching online, the reality is that parents will have a larger part to play in the education of their children and their own personal learning.

Establish A Routine

While schools are far from perfect, one of the things they do provide is structure. With you kids now hanging out at home, it’s going to come down to you to provide this structure. Left to their own devices, most kids will not spontaneously crack open a math textbook and proactively further their education. Set aside dedicated time each day to be put towards focused and meaningful learning. Keep in mind that while your kids were physically at school for about 6 hours per day, in reality a large chuck of this time was not fully dedicated to active learning. Be realistic and shoot for around 2-3 hours per day devoted to learning. Make sure your kids are taking breaks and keep the learning sessions to under 1 hour. If you establish set times, it will be easier to get into a routine. Also, don’t forget to maintain a regular sleep schedule, which could mean turning wifi off at a certain hour to make sure you kids are staying up all night online.

Don’t Forget about Physical Activity

If you are not in a lock down situation, than attempt to get out for a walk as a family at least once a day. My family has been doing this after dinner. We are very fortunate to have a wealth of hiking trails around us and have been definitely taking advantage of them. Remember your social distancing and avoid large groups. We do see people out on our walks but we make efforts to give people space and be friendly. If you are stuck inside, you’ll likely be able to find fitness classes on TV or online.

Leverage Netflix

A lot of us will turn to Netflix as a coping mechanism over the coming months but you may not have thought to look at Netflix as a learning rich resource. Netflix has a wealth of documentaries that you and your kids can learn quite a bit from. Set aside time each week to watch 1 or 2 of them.

Use Free Online Resources

You can learn just about anything online now a-days, so take advantage of it.

What to learn a new language?

Check out apps and websites like Duolingo, BBC and Memrise

Stay on top of and Strengthen your Math Skills

Check out websites like Khan Academy, IXL, TED

General Mind Expanding Sites

Check out sites like TED , Lynda.com, Udemy

Brush up on your Science

Check out sites like Bill Nye, TED, Brain Pop, National Geographic Kids, Nasa Kids Club

Learn to Code

Check out sites like Codeacademy, freeCodeCamp, Code.org, Udemy

Teach your Kids how to Cook! (With supervision of course)

Check out sites like Rouxbe, Instructables, Youtube

Teach you kids how to do Laundry!

Youtube

Expand your Learning (This is for you Parents)

While you’ll be helping your kids learn, it’s just as important to work on your own personal learning too!

Some great sites to check out include Coursera, Udemy, Lynda.com and edX. Also, don’t forget that picking up a book can expand your mind and you skills too.

You can do this!

Remember, It’s not about being perfect. As a parent, we are all teachers in one way or another. Stay positive and try your best. Try to find ways to make learning fun for your family and discover what works best for you. We are all in this together and if we share ideas and resources and insight, we can ultimately come out of this stronger on the other side!

Stuck at home due to Covid-19? I just put my HTML 5 Course up For Free. Enjoy!

I built the course for people with no previous HTML experience. My goals is to show people of all ages and backgrounds that learning the basics of HTML is within their reach.

I decided today to put this course up for free for anyone around the world who is working or confined to their home or out for school while we work together in global unity to defeat Covid-19. If you enjoy this course, please send the link to anyone else who you think will benefit from it.

It's Not Magic It's HTML5

https://www.udemy.com/its-not-magic-its-html5-a-course-for-complete-beginners

HTML5 Course For Complete Beginners

I’m a proud to announce the launch of my new course It’s Not Magic, It’s HTML5. After Almost 3 months of preparation and hard work, my new course is now available online on Udemy.

I built the course for people with no previous HTML experience. My goals is to show people of all ages and backgrounds that learning the basics of HTML is within their reach.

It's Not Magic It's HTML5

https://www.udemy.com/its-not-magic-its-html5-a-course-for-complete-beginners

Reinvent your teaching

Hi, my name is Richard and I am a teacher.

I’ve been teaching for over 20 years. For those of you out there who are also teachers, you may have found yourself at one time or another getting into a rut.

When we first start out teaching, everything is new and scary, and we really have no idea what to expect.

We make a lot of mistakes but gradually we learn to become better teachers over time. As our classes begin to run smoother, we begin to feel like we may actually have some clue what we are doing.

While the growth curve from going from a newb to an experienced instructor can be tremendous, over the years this curve can level out.

After almost 20 years of teaching I found myself on such a plateau. While I was still doing a good job running my classes, somewhere along the line I had fallen into a holding pattern and my growth as a teacher had come to a crawl.

While I still took my role quite seriously, it had grown flat. My passion was fizzling and in some ways the profession I had devoted the better part of my life had begun to feel like a job.

To be honest, this really ate away at me. I’ve always tried to live my life with the guideline that if you’re not having fun, it’s time to move on and try something new.

I didn’t want to give up, but I realized I needed to find a way to revitalize my craft and the way I looked at my role as a teacher. I needed a way to put myself back on the growth curve I had experienced when I first started teaching.

It took a while for me to finally see the path but while attending a professional development day at my college I attended a seminar that would end up being the catalyst that rekindled the teaching spark inside.

The main concept of the lecture was that the process continuous improvement, a tool that has been applied in the realm of business for quite a while, could be leveraged in the realm of education.

The idea here was that there is room for improvement in just about everything, including my teaching and my classes. With each new class I could effectively apply the scientific method and test a hypothesis about improving my classes and measure it’s impact on the success of my students.

Talking on this mindset, my goals now became not only to help my students succeed but to continue to look for the absolute best ways to do this.

For those of you out there who are in the teaching profession, I pose this question. Have you perfected and found the most effective way to teach your subject matter and transfer skills to your students?

If you teach math for example, have you discovered, sought out and tested the most effective ways to make this subject approachable and understandable to all of your students. Have you just been running the same old playbook or have you ventured out and dared to rewrite it.

Just imagine if every teacher could follow a path that could take them from just being good to becoming truly exceptional.

I have found such a path and I want to encourage anyone out there who may find themselves in a teaching rut to unlock this powerful approach and re-ignite their passion for teaching and learning.

Future Proofing Canada’s Workforce – Innovating Higher Education

I recently read the newly released report The Intelligence Revolution – Future Proofing Canada’s Workforce. In particular the report mentions the need to retool Canada’s eduction systems to convert them into practical lifelong centres of learning.

Machine learning, artificial intelligence, AR/VR and quantum computing are unleashing forces and creating change on a scale that has never before been seen by humanity. A conservative estimate pegs a minimum of 40-50% of the existing workforce being directly impacted within the near future. This will likely lead to a huge increase in the working class persuing re-training and further education.

We’re going to need to re-examine how we think about work and how we think about education and lifelong learning. In this post I’d like to start looking at the education side of this challenge.

What can the customer focused tech titans teach us?

If you have a closer look at most startups and industry leaders in the technology space, you’ll find an almost obsessive focus on the customer.  Their number one priority is understanding their customers and providing them with the products and services they want and need at the most competitive prices possible. These technology titans have overturned almost every dominate industry of old. What would it look like if we approached higher education from this perspective?

Are our current public universities and colleges as focused on the customer as the private sector?

In todays day and age, learners are not simply students coming out of high school. More often than not, they are increasingly working adults with challenging work-life schedules.  Many of them may have already completed a bachelors degree and would love to pursue a Masters degree or continue their professional development. Their struggle is finding the time to physically attend classes and bend their life and work schedules to fit that of the institution they wish to attend.

Couple this with artificial constraints of how long a degree or credential should take to achieve and you end up with a lot of lost business opportunities and frustrated potential customers.

How many working Canadians out there that would love to work towards their Masters degree, earn a second degree or pursue a new a credential but just can’t  because of the awkwardness that exists of the current system?

While it would be easy to harp the the current shortcomings of the existing system, perhaps a more productive approach may be to ask ourselves what good would look like? If we looked at students as customers (which they are) and we applied the same level of focus and zest that the tech titans on serving them, what could education look like looking into the future?

Let’s examine things from the perspective of the customer.

Lifetime Learners

No longer would we see a student as a 3-4 year client. With our new outlook, we’d view them as lifelong learners and hence lifelong customers and revenue generators. What if it became commonplace for people to hold multiple undergraduate and graduate degrees and they continued to add to these credentials over their entire lifespan?

Delivering Value and Affordability

Customers want value for their money. Education costs have ballooned over the past decade. In the tech world, many companies have been successful in toppling existing markets and competitors by attacking costs and removing inefficiencies. Look at the impact Amazon has had on everything from the cost of books to setting up your whole technology infrastructure on Amazon Web Services.

Does it continue to make sense for degrees to cost $50,000 – $100,000+. What if an equivalent if not superior learning experience could be provided for a fraction of this cost? What if higher education became financial accessible to pretty much anyone wishing to learn. What if higher education was free? Never going to happen? You might want to check out the increasing number of institutions like MIT who have opencourseware initiatives and organizations like Coursera, EdX and Udacity. Amazon AWS certifications can he obtained in a matter of months, with testing for certification costing less than a few hundred dollars and providing pathways to well paying jobs.

Now, just like in the business world, customers don’t mind paying for value, but the value must actually be there. How may students currently graduate from various programs in Canada and are ill-equipped for the realities of the current workplace? What if institutions measured and focused on delivering verifiable value to all their students and what if when they failed to do so, they offered a full refund? We apply this in the world of business every day, could this be applied in the realm of education?

Convenience

If we looked through the lens of the customer, we’d realize that many of them don’t have the ability to take day classes and may not be able to regularly attend physical classrooms because of their work schedule. Why not make it easier for them? We could empower learners to take courses online at times and places that are convenient to them. We wouldn’t make them wait a semester to start a course, we’d let them dive in right away if they wanted to. We wouldn’t artificially dictate how long they took to complete a course or program either. If a learner wanted to power their way through a course that normally took 3 months in a much shorter time frame or they need a extra month or two, why would’t we let them? As long as they could demonstrate the necessary mastery and knowledge, why should’t they be able to set their own pace?

Customization

Customers like to customize and design their own experiences, so wouldn’t it make sense to give our adult learners/customers the power to design their own educational paths. Many programs limit the course offerings to a handful of choices. If for example a learner wanted to custom design their own masters degree, why shouldn’t they be able to be empowered to choose the courses they felt would best serve their learning needs and goals?

Customer Engagement

Top tech companies are constantly engaging with the customers. Whether is requesting feedback on their products or services, making helpful suggestions for other products or services their customers may enjoy or asking for a review or endorsement, a lot of effort goes into maintaining ongoing positive relationships with customers.

Customer Feedback and Continuous Improvement

Paying attention to and responding to customer feedback is another major strength of successful online companies and service providers.  In the tech world, product managers play close attention to customer suggestions and feedback on new features, products and services. Their goal is to constantly improve and add value.  When we look at traditional education, are our teaching methods and outcomes constantly getting better and better over time? Is any given course that was offered 10 years ago significantly better today and does it deliverable the best value possible to its learners? Why aren’t the same expectations of continuous improvement and results that exist in the world of business being applied to the realm of education? Teaching is a system and as such, is it not unreasonable to expect systems to evolve and improve consistently over time?

Customer Appreciation 

Whether it’s providing loyalty discount, receiving a simple “thanks for your business” email or making the effort to follow up on customer feedback, complaints and praise, the all-star companies out there know that it’s better to keep customers happy and excited about their products and services than risk loosing them and then have to look for new ones. Do our current systems of education convey the clear message that you are extremely important to us, we value you and we want you as a customer for life?

Cleary the current system is far from perfect, but unless we start asking tough question and start looking at opportunities for improvement, these systems may likely remain slow to change.

What is certain to change is there are an increasing number of competitors who are seeing the gaps and opportunities to jump into the education space … and do it better. Their aim will be to serve customers better, to cut costs, provide more value, to scale delivery globally, improve accessibility and provide options that have not previously existed to learners from all walks of life.

The opportunity to improve and evolve is definitely there for higher education. The question is, will it seize the opportunity while it still can or will it be the next industry to be upended?