April 2020

Nothing Against Netflix, But Who Is Up-skilling During COVID-19?

The latest unemployment numbers just came in for the United States and we have now surpassed 30 million new claims over the past six weeks. And yet the one question that I don't hear anyone asking in all these reports is "Who is using this time to up-skill or re-skill?". Sure, I hear about how much people are using Netflix and YouTube—so much so that they have had to downgrade the quality of the video because it was putting strain on the Internet infrastructure.

But what about using some of this time to become more valuable to your current employer (assuming that you will be returning to the same one) or a future employer (assuming that you're going to be entering into a much more competitive market for employment than we have seen in the past 5 to 10 years)? This is such an obvious question…and yet, nothing.

Just look at what is out there, from…
LinkedIn Learning
The Great Courses

…or host of other online resources that are ridiculously inexpensive compared to the more formal education options—the vast majority of which are currently closed or going online anyway,

I'll have a lot more thoughts on this later…

Webinars Aren’t New, So Why Are They Still So Bad?

I have been watching a lot of webinars over the past several weeks because of the coronavirus. And it amazes me how many people are really not very good at using this medium, despite its rise to prominence.

It isn’t like this medium hasn’t existed for years and that people haven’t figured out the enormous leverage that this medium affords us in the hyper-connected digital age. Maybe this is what Powerpoint was like in the early days. However, I would venture to say that people are even worse at using this particular medium than they are in live presentations (despite the fact that it is so clearly derivative of live presentations). And maybe that why I’m so concerned. When I see how the average user of Powerpoint presents information, even today, I’m led to believe that webinars may never get much better.

For the sake of your audience. Please
1. Practice your presentation several times and record it
2. Watch the presentations from the viewers’ perspective
3. Make corrections (how can you SHORTEN the presentation?).

In almost every presentation that I see, the introductions are too long and self-serving and the interactions (live surveys, reading comments, questions, etc) offer no real value. As a viewer (and learner), it takes too much effort to get to the real “value” for which I’m exchanging my limited time and attention. Thank God…
1. Most people offer the recordings to view afterwards
2. I have a program like Downie that allows me to download the recordings and then skip through the boring introductions and watch the real content in variable speed.

Until next time - enjoy the digital revolution, warts and all.

COVID-19 As A Digital Learning Catalyst

What if, all of a sudden, all of our default settings on how we learn (and how we work) were switched off? What if we didn’t have the same access to teachers, professors, classrooms, etc, that we’ve taken for granted for our entire lives?

Ideally, it would cause us to rethink each of our preferences and really examine whether those preferences were based on comfort (because that’s how I’ve always learned) rather than the best return for our time, money, and energy (ROI).

If I were to imagine the ideal, personal SUPERPOWER for the 21st century, it would be the ability to harness the abundant, inexpensive learning resources that the digital revolution has enabled and quickly digest, integrate, and synthesize those resources into real-world, tradable skills that will add real value to our economies and our world.

As bad as this COVID-19 crisis is, there will be silver linings. I propose that this will be a huge catalyst to adopting a new lifelong-learning-based educational system that is built not by governmental decrees (as well-intentioned and useful as those might have been for the early industrial world), but rather by individuals and smaller organizations to meet the new 21st century demands.

Much of this new system has already been built and it will only get better (and cheaper). Ultimately, this will deliver better results in a fraction of the time and for pennies on the dollar. We just need to tweak our learning skills to take advantage of this new digital delivery.

What a world this is going to be on the other side!

Be safe and stay tuned!

©1996-2020 Matthew Turco