By Rick Devine, Founder and CEO of Talentsky, Inc.
In the days before technology proliferation, the dominant approach to job skill learning was an apprentice watching an expert do the work in person. This approach was very personal and developed a human relationship between mentor and mentee. With personal computing and the YouTube generation came an endless supply of video learning. People could now look up any topic from how to fix the sink drain to how to program advanced algorithms and watch expert videos on the subject, all for free. YouTube quickly became the most popular learning platform in the world. With the popularity of YouTube, startups were formed to take video learning to the next level. Coursera created a platform to provide colleges and universities the ability to easily repurpose their course content as video learning. Coursera is now a successful public company with nearly $600m in revenue. Udemy created a consumer platform that allows anyone to create video based courses and make money. Today, Udemy has over $600m in revenue with 100,000 video courses and millions of learners. Finally, we would not do the video learning topic justice without mentioning the success of LinkedIn Learning with over 13,000 courses and 30m learners. While Microsoft does not break out the unit’s revenue, they have reported that LinkedIn is over $14b in revenue and Learning is the fastest growing business unit. Suffice to say, people like video based learning.
Then the pandemic changed everything. In the Spring of 2020 the COVID pandemic forced schools to move to virtual remote teaching. Zoom became the dominant platform with its ease of use and focus on low latency performance and grew from 10m daily users to over 300m during the pandemic peak. Zoom is credited with powering education during this difficult time in American history. Employers also embraced virtual learning and the Work From Home (WFH) movement was born. This period proved that live virtual collaboration could be compelling and productive. One prominent leader in enterprise learning confirmed this when he told me their surveyed employees overwhelmingly preferred live virtual, even with its time schedule, vs. watching videos at the user's convenience. I believe this is due to the desire we all have to build relationships with other human beings. I have both watched Howard Schultz videos and met him live on Zoom. It was really cool to say, “Hi Howard” and have him look at me and say, “Hi Rick, it’s nice to meet you” then proceed to learn more about Talentsky.
We believe that live, small group, virtual professional skill learning is the next education frontier. To make this vision a reality, a new network was needed to validate the instructors skills and to organize the skill proficiency of attendees to properly match qualified attendees so that every Workshop is valuable to the group. Like YouTube, Workshop topics are based upon work tasks and associated skills. We emulated the original Mentor Mentee approach with instructors using a live platform to teach what they actually do. You could say that Talentsky Workshops are bringing learning back to the future!