Applying New Education Technologies to Meet Workforce Education Needs | MIT J-WEL

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Applying New Education Technologies to Meet Workforce Education Needs

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  • Sanjay Sarma
    Vice President for Open Learning Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Bill Bonvillian
    Lecturer, Science Technology and Society and Political Science Departments, and Senior Director, Special Projects MIT


This paper focuses on the question: What are the lessons from learning science and new technologies that could make online education, including workforce training, more effective?

Our current workforce education system faces many gaps, from underinvestment to a deep disconnect between the still-separate worlds of work and learning. However, new models for workforce education delivery are developing to help fill these gaps. New educational technologies, the subject of this paper, are high on the list of new delivery models that we must consider.

Covid-19 introduces a new driver. It has particularly harmed the poor and working class, who have lost jobs or are filling riskier face-to-face “essential” jobs, as opposed to safer, at-home, “knowledge” work. It has underscored the need for a better workforce education system to create better quality jobs. 

To meet the needed scale, online education, which has been growing in recent years, could be a key tool. But online education is a very different medium than the traditional classroom, and there are lessons from learning science only now being understood that will apply to it in different ways. For online workforce education to work and to scale, it will have to be a better system, incorporating learning lessons and advanced technologies to optimize the new medium.

Topics: Future of Work Digital Tools and EdTech

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