698: Gabe discusses the skills that will be necessary for employees in the Digital Age and how companies can foster the upskilling essential to keep pace with their digital transformations. Gabe looks at the current state of digital skills and where Udacity fits in the spectrum of overall education. He describes the three main skill sets that will be crucial for companies to train employees in, the path ahead for employees in non-technical roles, and the best practices for companies developing their own in-house digital academies. Finally, Gabe advises incoming college students on what skills to learn for their future careers.

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This episode is sponsored by Cisco.

Among other topics, Peretz discusses the following issues with Metis Strategy:

  • The Technion’s mission and its role in driving entrepreneurship and engineering success in Israel
  • The innate entrepreneurial nature of Israelis as an immigrant nation and their unique geo-political context
  • What degree entrepreneurship can be taught to students, and what innate traits future entrepreneurs bring with them to the Technion
  • How alumni contribute in the classroom and providing business opportunities to Technion students
  • The Technion’s successful partnership with Cornell University to establish the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute in New York City and the contribution of JTCI to the city
  • Faculty’s involvement in the companies that Technion’s students develop, and how the Technion financially encourages faculty’s start-ups
  • Lavie’s own research on sleep and an individual’s peak creativity and alertness
  • Eye on trends: Nanotechnology’s role in monitoring health and automatic translations capacity to globalize education

Peretz Lavie’s Biography

Peretz Lavie is the President of the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, the oldest university in Israel specializing in the sciences, engineering and medicine.  Throughout his six year tenure as president, Lavie has overseen the Technion’s 18 faculties, and lead international initiatives like the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute in New York and the institute for technology at Shantou University.

President Lavie has researched, taught, and worked as an administrator at the Technion since he returned to Israel from the United States in 1975 to found the Technion’s sleep laboratory.  He later opened a similar center affiliated with Harvard University, authored several books including The Enchanted World of Sleep and Restless Nights: Understanding Snoring and Sleep Apnea and served as President of the Israeli Society of Sleep Research.  He also has advocated for policy reforms in education, transportation safety, broadcasting and the military where those fields relate to sleep.

Peretz Lavie received his bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Statistics from Tel Aviv University, earned his PhD in Physiological Psychology at the University of Florida, and pursued post-doctoral research at the University of California at San Diego.

Among other topics, Nic discusses the following with Metis Strategy:

  • The future of technology, and what trends he sees evolving in the online education sector
  • Revolution of the distribution model utilized by Edmodo and other virtual education platforms
  • The significance of focusing exclusively on a pre-K to grade 12 audience, and the challenges of reaching those of a younger age
  • The need for a digital platform in education, and the changes that accompanied the transition from analog to digital
  • How Edmodo was designed with the teacher in mind first compared with other online education platforms that were designed primarily from the student’s point of view
  • Eye on the trends: The growing importance and power of a global education network

Nic Borg’s Biography

Nic is the co-founder and chief product officer of Edmodo, a private K-12 classroom communication tool that’s drawn 15 million teachers and students together in only four years. On the secure platform teachers and students can collaborate, share content and access educational apps to augment in-class learning. Edmodo’s goal is to create social media tools that help teachers engage students and to make sure every school in the world has access to them.

Before launching Edmodo, Borg worked at Kaneland High School in Maple Park, IL for seven years, building web-based tools and learning management solutions.

He has been named to Forbes prestigious “30 Under 30” list, as an innovative entrepreneur under the age of 30.

Nic has a bachelor’s degree from Northern Illinois University.

Among other topics, Umar discusses the following with Metis Strategy:

  • Umar’s journey from educational experiences in Pakistan to the UK and the US, and how he leveraged experiences at Cambridge and MIT to bring back lessons to Pakistan
  • How LUMS first responded to the entrepreneurial ethos that Umar brought to the table i.e. creating real-impact projects as opposed to academic research
  • Umar’s  innovations and projects that have had real social and private sector impact in Pakistan
  • The importance of the mobile technology and platforms in Pakistan, the world’s fourth largest “texting” country
  • Cultural and logistical constraints faced by tech entrepreneurs in Pakistan, including a murky intellectual property legal space
  • The rise of citizen journalism
  • Eye on the trends: Fundamental changes occurring in the education and media fields, which create great opportunities for entrepreneurs like Umar in Pakistan

Umar Saif’s Biography:

Umar is the Vice Chancellor of the Information Technology University in Pakistan, a newly created university that aims to implement a unique teaching methodology and cross-disciplinary research that is grounded in real-world problem solving to educate the next generation of innovative and entrepreneurial engineers. Umar has an ideal background for this, having spent time both in academe and in the start-up setting.

Prior to his current role, Umar was an Associate Professor in the department of computer science at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). He is also the founder of one of the first startup incubators in Lahore, Pakistan, called SCI.  He has worked on a number of start-ups including SMSall, BumpIn.com, SeeNreport.com, and Ticketmy.com.

Umar was named one of the top 35 young innovators in the world (TR35) in 2011. He was selected as a Young Global Leader (YGL) by the World Economic Forum in 2010. He also received the Google Faculty Research Award in 2011 and the MIT Technovator Award in 2008 among many other accolades.

Umar has a Bachelor of Science degree from LUMS, a PhD from the University of Cambridge, and a post-doctorate from MIT, all in computer science.

Among other topics, Dan discusses the following with Metis Strategy:

  • Cornell Tech NYC’s mission and how it has positioned its curriculum at the crossroads of commerce and academia
  • Why Cornell chose to locate the school in New York City, rather than on its Ithaca main campus
  • The school’s matrixed learning structure and three organizing themes, which focus on customer-centric technology
  • How the school is building a culture that equally values real-world engagement and academic accomplishments
  • Dan’s definition of success for the school
  • Eye on the trends: Innovation in educational content delivery, MOOCs, IT as an increasingly user-centric field

Dan Huttenlocher’s Biography

Dan is the Dean and Vice Provost of the Cornell NYC Tech Campus. As Dean, he has overall responsibility for programmatic aspects of the new campus, including the academic quality and direction of the campus’ degree programs and research. Working with both internal and external stakeholders, he is developing strategic plans for the most effective ways of working with companies and early stage investors in New York City as well as overseeing the faculty recruitment and entrepreneurial initiatives of the campus.

Dan has a mix of academic and industry background, having worked at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) and served as CTO of Intelligent Markets, as well as being a faculty member at Cornell for two decades.

Dan received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and both his Master’s and Doctorate degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); and currently serves as a Trustee of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Among other topics, Anant discusses the following with Metis Strategy:

  • The genesis of the idea behind edX
  • Four aspects that make edX different from the other MOOCs
  • How edX benefits both its university partners and other universities unaffiliated with edX
  • edX’s KPIs
  • edX’s new strategic forays in to content for Advanced Placement (AP) tests and corporate training
  • Eye on the trends: Increasing focus on research at MOOC-partner universities, blended courses at universities that combine online and traditional learning

Anant Agarwal’s Biography

Anant is President of edX, a not-for-profit MOOC-based online learning destination founded by MIT and Harvard Universities.

Anant taught the first edX course on circuits and electronics from MIT, which drew 155,000 students from 162 countries. He has served as the director of CSAIL, MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and is a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT. He is a successful serial entrepreneur, having co-founded several companies including Tilera Corporation, which created the Tile multicore processor, and Virtual Machine Works.

Anant won the Maurice Wilkes prize for computer architecture, and MIT’s Smullin and Jamieson prizes for teaching. He is also the author of the textbook “Foundations of Analog and Digital Electronic Circuits.”

Anant holds a Ph.D. from Stanford and a bachelor’s from IIT Madras.

Among other topics, Simon discusses the following with Metis Strategy:

  • Simon’s vision for FutureLearn, and how he started the company
  • How he has leveraged his non-academic background to run a MOOC
  • FutureLearn’s revenue model, and what Simon thinks about his company’s position vis-à-vis traditional educational institutions and other MOOCs
  • How FutureLearn engages cultural institutions to enhance its product
  • The creative potential of forming a more collaborative MOOC sphere
  • Eye on the Trends: Mobile learning, changing technology to make MOOC learning more conducive to non-STEM subjects

Simon Nelson’s Biography

Simon is the CEO of FutureLearn, a massive open online course (MOOC) founded in late 2012 as a company majority owned by the UK’s Open University.

Simon also oversees digital activities for Phaidon Press, a role he retained while joining Futurelearn Ltd as CEO in late 2012.

Prior to his current roles, Simon led a number of projects in the TV, radio and publishing sectors for companies including Random House, UKTV, Specific Media and New York Public Radio. He also spent more than a decade at the BBC, leading all digital activities for the BBC’s television divisions where he helped launch the iPlayer and built an award winning portfolio of online and cross platform services.

Simon is a graduate of University of Cambridge and holds an MBA from University of Manchester.

Among other topics, Salman discusses the following with Metis Strategy:

  • The genesis of the idea behind Khan Academy
  • Khan Academy’s aim to fill skill and knowledge gaps but not to compete with or replace the physical classroom
  • The revenue model and examples of performance metrics used like “Total global learning due to Khan Academy”
  • How Khan Academy differentiates itself from other MOOCs by focusing on how content is consumed and not offering accreditation
  • How Khan Academy scales and develops its team
  • Salman’s thoughts on education reform in the United States
  • Eye on the Trends:  Khan Academy, like other MOOCs, will further enable access to the best education and push for a competency based education and hiring system –  a departure from the current setup that give excessive importance to an institute’s brand name

Salman Khan’s Biography

Sal is the founder and executive director of the Khan Academy, a not-for-profit organization with the mission of providing a free world-class education to anyone, anywhere.

As of December 2013, the Khan Academy channel on YouTube attracted 1,553,000 subscribers and the Khan Academy videos have been viewed over 334 million times. In 2012, Time named Sal in its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Forbes magazine featured Sal on its cover with the story “$1 Trillion Opportunity”.

Prior to founding Khan Academy, Sal was the portfolio manager at Khan Capital Management and a Senior Analyst at Wohl Capital Management. He also spent time at MVC Venture Capital, Scient Corporation, and Oracle Corporation.

Sal received his MBA from Harvard Business School where he was president of the student body. He also holds a Masters degree in electrical engineering and computer science, a Bachelors degree in electrical engineering and computer science, and a Bachelors degree in mathematics from MIT where he was president of the Class of 1998.

Among other topics, Mike discusses the following issues with Metis Strategy:

  • The genesis of the idea behind ALISON
  • The strategy behind ALISON’s focus on corporate and vocational training content online
  • ALISON’s revenue model and key performance indicators used
  • The rationale behind ALISON’s lack of affiliation with universities
  • Why platforms like ALISON cannot compensate for learning through others and networking, as Mike experienced at Harvard
  • How ALISON functions as a filter for the content that exists online in the vocational space
  • Eye on the Trends: There will be great emphasis on skills-based hiring in the future, a departure from the traditional route that heavily weights an applicant’s college or university name,  and ALISON is positioning itself to provide employers with such candidates

Mike Feerick’s Biography

Mike is the founder and CEO of ALISON (Advance Learning Interactive Systems Online), a MOOC-based e-learning platform headquartered in Galway, Ireland.

ALISON is considered by some to be the first ever MOOC, as Mike launched the company in 2007, which has since became a noted global provider in the e-learning community, and in September of 2013, ALISON was announced as one of six winners at the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) awards, an initiative of the Qatar Foundation.

Prior to founding ALISON, Mike founded YAC, a unified messaging/telecoms company (acquired by J2COM NASD in July of 2007), and he also founded Advance Learning, a global provider of interactive multimedia courseware for IT literacy. Mike also served as Acting MD of Interactive Investor and on the Board of BMG Music UK.

Mike holds a BBS (University of Limerick) and MBA (Harvard University).


Among other topics, Daphne discusses the following  with Metis Strategy:
  • The genesis of the idea behind Coursera
  • Coursera’s current strategy to only feature courses by professors affiliated with member universities
  • Its revenue model and and key performance indicators used
  • How Coursera differentiates itself from other MOOCs by facilitating a “social” aspect to learning
  • Why Coursera offers a wide variety of courses as opposed to focusing on narrow, technical fields as done by some of its competitors
  • Eye on trends:  Internationalization of content and enabling of mobile solutions so students have access to the material even if they are not in class 24/7. Coursera intends to expand internationally, given only a third of its current students are from the US
Daphne Koller’s Biography

Daphne is the co-founder and co-CEO of Coursera, an education company that partners with many of the top universities and organizations in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free.

She is also the Rajeev Motwani Professor in the Computer Science Department and the Oswald Villard University Fellow in Undergraduate Education at Stanford University. She is the author of over 180 publications.

Daphne pioneered in her classroom many of the ideas that are key to Stanford’s massive online education effort.

Among the many awards she has won include a 2004 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, and she was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering in 2011.

Daphne has a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and a PhD from Stanford University.

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