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Learning platform Coursera partners with Ayala

The pandemic highlights its versatility, as a learning platform
and an opportunity portal

WHEN the pandemic immobilized the whole world, the shift towards digitalization was rapid, almost disorienting. Government ran services online, businesses worked remotely and the classroom became a 14- to 17-inch screen. As the coronavirus has been slowly overcome by herd immunity, the world shifting back to a “normal” that is structured by new rules.

Gupta

Malaya Business Insight had a sit-down with Raghav Gupta, Managing Director for Asia-Pacific for Coursera, a well-known universal access platform for learning to find out how the learning platform will help in this restructuring.

This meeting is my first face-to-face with him. Previously, he was either a 2.5 x 3.25-inch rectangular box on a screen or a static image with the Coursera logo and a voice coming through the headphones. In this breakfast meeting, Raghav outlined to me how 17 enterprises in the Philippines leverage Coursera for Business and how the Ayala Group of corporations is taking advantage of the learning platform to improve employees’ digital and human skills through curated, function-focused, and industry -specific learning programs.

Coursera and Ayala

As an example, Ayala Land tapped Coursera to further enhance employees’ finance, marketing, sales, project management, and customer service excellence skills, which are a must-have in the real estate industry.

Ayala’s BPI promotes upskilling on digital transformation, data analysis, information system, cybersecurity, and digital channels for banking through the platform.

While its digital solution platform Globe has started using Coursera while onboarding new employees, building foundational data science skills needed to become job-ready faster. Coursera and Globe University have also collaborated to create a Data Science Learning Hub that focuses on data analytics, cloud security, and UI/UX, among others.

Coursera for Business leverages on an unmatched technology platform and range of content to deliver an enterprise learning solution that helps companies transform their talent. Launched in 2016, it is now the company’s fastest-growing business unit and teams thousands of employers around the world, with the tools and resources they need to keep their talent sharp and, in turn, keep their business competitive.

Customers benefit from powerful features including curated, in-depth content from 250 top university and industry educators, reputable and stackable certifications, an easy-to-use mobile platform, centralized program management, and progress tracking tools.

“Coursera for Business aims to help companies drive transformative skill development to power business growth and resilience, and manage the shift to remote work,” Raghav said as he explained Coursera’s partnership with Ayala reflecting the platform’s versatility in providing not only training but also opportunities for those within the platform.

The big boss finds thought leadership on Coursera

Further examples of this versatility are shown in three examples of Coursera in actual use. These Coursera alumni used the platform to upskill themselves, upgrade current qualifications and update their personal knowledge on the newest technologies. The timing of these offerings was right smack at the start of the pandemic lockdowns in March 2020.

Amado, 42, used Coursera’s Stanford University’s “Measuring and Maximizing Impact of COVID-19 Contact Tracing” which is a free course and Georgia Tech’s “Supply Chain Principles.” Since his company is directly involved in the last mile for the delivery of vaccines, the knowledge he gained just from knowing how contact tracing should work impacted the way he ran his operations.

“It used to be a business of beating deadlines. Now because of the better understanding of how vaccines should be stored and the movement in a modified supply chain, we serve our customers better,” Amado said. But when he introduced Coursera’s latest learning modules called “Clips” —which currently offer over 10,000 bite-sized videos and lessons from the world’s leading companies and universities.

Clips being subject-centered in content, and skills-focused in objectives allows employees to begin learning new skills in under 10 minutes—something that even executives can benefit from. Coursera expects that Clips will scale to more than 200,000 videos by the end of the year.

“Business needs are constantly evolving in today’s workforce and employees are expected to acquire new skills at an increasingly rapid pace to perform in their roles. Organizations need to pivot to offer their employees learning and development solutions that naturally align to their learning habits. We are excited about Clips because these easily searchable, bite-sized videos quickly enable employees to develop the role-based skills needed to do their job successfully in the fast-changing work environment,” Raghav said commenting on the relevance of Clips in the business environment.

“There is a lot one can learn from Clips,” Amado expressed. “One can develop thought leadership actions and directions from all the learnings here.”

From “mandatory vacation” to “working at ease”

Like many who found themselves out of a job, Danny, 30, struggled to keep up with the pressure of the confines of home. Being a single parent to two middle-grade children (his wife of him, a home assistant to a moneyed family, was locked down in Italy), he had to both guide his kids through their modular activities synching with his wife because of the time difference. He was basically “fired” from his job and politely given what the company called a “paid mandatory vacation,” after half a year of not being able to go to the factory to work during the lockdown.

He decided that he would work fully online and found a design job that was completely remote, operating out of Taiwan and Canada. It would pay him $15 an hour and guaranteed 8-hour days but only four days a week. However, it requires a 3D CAD certification. I found a solution with Coursera and the course he needed from a school very acceptable to his new company’s owners—the National Taiwan University.

“I was able to get a new, better paying job that. I invested heavily in the 3D class but it paid back in just one go,” Danny shared as he praised the ability of Coursera to provide financial support or plans when applicable. “Now I have the time to be a parent and work in a job that doesn’t entail traveling or reporting to an office. That’s working at ease,” he said in Tagalog.

Coursera for promotions

Tisha, 29, is a different case. The business process outsourcing in the country were barely disrupted by the pandemic—remote working processes, already in their protocol simply had to be turned on.

Tisha, because of a family tragedy, started working just after completing one year in college. She’s been working for 2 years since. She does very well as a call center agent because of her understanding of her job and charming sales skills. This made her a constant a top performer, which of course came with the travel or gadget perks and paid performance bonuses.

“But I came to a point when after two years of doing really well, I saw people with far lesser productivity, or even sense of management get promoted because they have college degrees, and I don’t. I have everything needed to get promoted, except a diploma,” Tisha shared.

Company policy prevented her to be promoted because she lacked certain academic qualifications. As of this writing, she is still finishing a course in Entertainment and Multimedia Computing at the Mapuá Institute of Technology, one of several schools in the country aligned with Coursera. Once she finishes a degree, she can now move up the corporate ladder.

“It will not be an easy task but I have my mind already set on completing this to ensure my next steps in life are fully under my control,” she concluded.

Coursera also has short courses for people who may merely want to improve and grow by learning and developing their technical skills through recognized certifications.

Why did Coursera do it?

Amidst the pandemic, the company had realized the need for upskilling and the creation of opportunities to upgrade personal knowledge. Coursera alongside its partners sponsored 115 certification courses for people affected by the global pandemic. This is part of an outreach initiative for people who may have lost their jobs, have been retrenched, have had their salaries reduced.

Though the program ended on December 31, 2020, many free courses remain available on the platform.

Coursera was launched in 2012 by two Stanford Computer Science professors, Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller, with a mission to provide universal access to world-class learning. It is now one of the largest online learning platforms in the world, with 102 million registered learners. –with Gregory E. Bautista

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