BlendYourLearning: Bridging the Skills Gap with EdTechMEST alum Ugo Chukwujiaka is currently working as the Project Manager of BlendYourLearning, a learning company that is launching its pilot program this March in Accra. We spoke to him to learn more about the company and what they’re doing to bridge the skills gap faced by many young Africans.
Tell me a bit about BlendYourLearning.
BlendYourLearning is learning company for young professionals and middle managers who want to develop their skills and competencies. We offer a combination of online courses from top international institutions and expert-led offline meetups that contextualise the online content. We want to contribute to bridge the skills gap on the continent.
Tell me about the BlendYourLearning Pilot Program.
Our pilot program starts March 10th and ends May 10th. The program is targeted toward young professionals and middle managers that want to improve their skills in effective communication (business writing, presentation, etc.) and project management. Applications can be found on our website.
What is unique about the blended learning approach and why do you think it is successful?
By blending the learning experience, we can combine the advantages of online and offline learning. Online learning includes access to world-class training content and offers the ability to have a flexible learning schedule, which means participants can learn at their pace and at any time. As well, online learning means that if students don't understand a concept the first time, they can easily rewind until they gain mastery.
Offline learning allows for in-person accountability. One of the biggest challenges of online MOOCs is the completion rate, which is currently at about 7.5%. By creating social dynamics through online interaction and offline meetups, the learning experience is made a lot richer, and peer pressure ensures that participants are motivated to put in the necessary work before meeting in person to work on a project.
How does BlendYourLearning differ from other education programs for young professionals?
In addition to having a combined online and expert-led offline learning experience, we provide a skills gap assessment of participants as a starting point to the learning experience. In that way, we are able to tailor the participant's learning plan to their specific strengths and weaknesses.
As an Education Technologist, what are some current innovations in EdTech on the continent that you are most excited about?
I like what Chalkboard Education and GetSmarter are doing in terms of providing access to instruction and material by local universities. However, innovation such as what dotLearn is currently working on gets me excited. If they are able to pull off the low video compression, that'll be something. Also, I really like how this social enterprise,PEN, trains teachers on how to use local and available materials in teaching STEM subjects.
What do you believe are some of the biggest barriers faced by young professionals seeking further education in Africa?
I believe some of the biggest barriers faced by young professionals seeking further educations in Africa are quality of local learning instruction and material, affordable and available internet connection, and the high cost of some learning programs.
How did MEST change your perspective on education?
I won't say MEST changed my perspective on education; rather MEST opened my eyes to the social, technological and economic factors that affect education in Ghana and Nigeria.
When wrapping up our conversation, Chukwujiaka explained, “It will be entrepreneurs and not government that will be the catalyst for the education revolution in Africa and other third world countries struggling with their current education system. The solution to the African education challenge will combine technology that empowers both the student and the instructor.”
If you’re interested in learning more about BlendYourLearning or applying for their pilot program, check out their website!
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