Google has unveiled plans to use its Squared Online course to disrupt the education system, as it says it is “successfully” merging classroom and online learning styles, something it claims rival tech firms have failed to do.
“Squared Online bridges the gap between the classic classroom experience, where you can’t get scale, and e-learning that can sometimes be a bit dry. It offers a more experiential learning experience,” says Shuvo Saha, director of the Google Digital Academy.
The course focuses on digital marketing and is split into five modules which look at disruption, how tech is changing businesses, the rise of social and mobile, data analytics and insights.
Squared Online originally began as a face-to-face class, but the tech giant soon realised it needed more scale and so decided to create an online interactive classroom. To do this it collaborated with Avado, a professional coaching company.
This allowed it to move from 30 people attending classes three to four times a year to working with up to 400 people at a time, in a much more collaborative way.
There are a lot of questions right now given the reality of the job market and what young people need to be able to do to get different roles.
Shuvo Saha, Google Digital Academy
The course includes a student portal that outlines each module and who individuals will be working with for group work. Groups can also ‘meet’ face-to-face through Google hangouts.
James Elias, chief marketing officer at Avado, tells Marketing Week it isn’t easy to bring classroom-based learning to an online environment, but worth the effort.
“Absolutely [we are disrupting the education system]. Though it’s not easy to translate a course that is born in a classroom online. A lot are trying to do this and not achieving it,” he says. “Education is facing some big challenges in general, in terms of scale, depth and speed.”
Other challenges include the general cost of education, something Elias and Saha say may be pushing more people towards apprenticeships or new methods of learning following Brexit.
“There are a lot of questions right now given the reality of the job market and what young people need to be able to do to get different roles. It’s a tricky one for education as a whole,” Saha says.
Though both agree Squared Online is not there to be an alternative to those doing something like a marketing degree, they say it offers students a different method of learning and may be something more opt to do. They say the course is a reaction to a tech industry problem of not being able to find the right talent or train them.
Marketing leaders of the future
Saha and Elias say the course is supposed to create and identify marketing leaders of the future and is targeted at people that aren’t expecting to be spoon-fed with information.
“We’re not just looking for anyone. We are looking for those who have curiosity, a collaborative approach and who need and want to do the course,” Saha explains.
“We need people who really put the customer first in their own organisation, are risk takers and are looking to do the right thing.”
Saha says structures can sometimes get in the way and that it is more important for companies to create collaborative teams. He adds that it is important students learn to work outside boundaries and breakdown silos around the organisation.
He concludes: “I think one of the most important things is to just tune in and be proactive, make choices and don’t let decisions be made for you.”