How much have you learned from the internet? What knowledge, skills, and abilities have you developed by reading articles or watching videos online? Are any of them relevant to your job or career path? Do you know people who have learned more from the internet than they have from more formal sources of education?
When I was teaching my first quality management class at De La Salle University in 2016, I was taken aback when one of my students raised his hand and questioned what I had said 10 seconds earlier. He did this after quickly searching for an online source that supported his understanding of the concept. Realizing where the apparent conflict came from, I explained how the context was different and how no real conflict existed. I was careful not to react negatively especially since I probably would have done the same thing if I were a student of his generation.
Ease of access to all kinds of knowledge has dramatically improved over the last decade. Knowledge acquisition and verification that used to require a trip to the library or a costly call to a reliable resource person during socially appropriate hours now take no more than a few seconds for as long as we have a decent internet connection.
Most of the skills and much of the knowledge that had normally been acquired from traditional academic institutions and less formal educational service providers can now be learned online. Several learning institutions have taken advantage of their established brands by offering such courses, usually awarding certifications or proofs of knowledge and skill acquisition in exchange for a course fee. However, in many cases, the teachers or facilitators of learning can still make all the difference, which is one of the reasons why formal education will continue to have a place in modern society. Sir Ken Robinson, an international adviser on education, suggests that education should foster curiosity through creative teaching in order to thrive. He says that to awaken creativity, alternative educational processes that put less emphasis on standardized testing should be used. This would allow schools and teachers to optimize learning experiences by encouraging more contextual and individualized approaches to education.
For many learning programs, testing has been done away with altogether. This approach also has its disadvantages as some participants may be more concerned with acquiring the physical proof of knowledge acquisition than the knowledge itself. This is because these proofs are what potential employers initially value. Diplomas and certificates can be cited in one’s resume and are easy for potential employers to appreciate and evaluate. Online courses and webinars offering similar proofs in digital form are now also widely available and are regularly included in resumes and curriculum vitae. However, as the internet becomes a more potent and dependable, if not dominant, source of skills and knowledge, how can we appropriately communicate the acquisition of other forms of internet-sourced skills and knowledge? How can we communicate outcomes and results of online self-learning? And how should companies assess and value such claims?
One key factor that has to be considered is the type of skills and knowledge involved and the means through which these skills and knowledge can be verified. Certain skills such as dance and other skills involving artistic expression have always been easy to communicate and verify through demonstrations. Auditions or exhibits are often held and given more value than textual content on a resume. Many professional musicians who had acquired their skills through informal means have been able to seize opportunities in the entertainment industry regardless of whether or not they had relevant content on their resumes.
Similarly, skills involving visual aesthetics, such as those associated with fashion design, photography, interior design and architecture, are better communicated through portfolios or other output that showcase the application of such skills. For these fields, a purely text-based resume or curriculum vitae might not be as useful as other proofs of capability. However, for other types of skills and knowledge that have been acquired through informal sources, it might be more challenging to provide assessors with a way of verifying declared information.
How then can people communicate that they have learned management, leadership, asset valuation, financial analysis, presentation, photo-editing, or video-editing skills online? Do these skills have a place in our resumes? For instance, would it not be weird for a resume to include a line stating that we learned management skills from YouTube? And would it even increase our chances of getting an interview?
Although the thought of it might seem ridiculous now, I believe it is only a matter of time before such lines become commonplace in resume content and add as much value as traditional content.
Rafael Gerardo S. Tensuan is a lecturer at the Management and Organization Department of the Ramon V. Del Rosario College of Business of De La Salle University and at the Export Management Program of the School of Management and Information Technology of De La Salle-College of St. Benilde. You may contact him at [email protected] The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty and its administrators.