Weighing the enterprise benefits of online technology courses

Online technology courses are booming, but will they really help you to groom your tech staff for specific technology tasks? A new training site is offering hands-on online technology training geared for specific industries.

Experfy started out a little over two years ago as a consulting marketplace for big data and IoT technologists – think Upwork or Elance, but for vetted talent. The company, which skims a 20 per cent margin from consultants’ fees, uses applicant data from LinkedIn and Github, in addition to a rigorous set of interview questions. The idea is to get consultants that can actually do the job, rather than dilettantes who over-promise and under-deliver. Now, it wants to expand that model into training.

Sarabjot Kaur, joint CEO of the company, said that she saw increasing demand among customers wanting to develop curricula for particular courses. They were looking for instructors who could teach staff how to handle specific technical tasks, often in cutting-edge areas like big data analytics.

“That led us to believe that there’s lots of demand for training in spite of the massive online open courses (MOOCS) already out there,” she said.

The training arm of Experfy launches today with around 30 courses online, but hopes to have 100 available within six months. Typically, courses include online modules with an assessment at the end of each, in a model similar to existing sites like Coursera. There are also more hands-on elements, where instructors teach directly via WebEx. “These things are comprehensive and foundational, spanning multiple weeks,” she said.

Experfy has recruited a mixture of practitioners for its training courses. Some are academics (there’s a professor from the University of Toronto teaching classification modules, for example) while others have specific industry experience. One course is being taught by a former head of the insurance analytics practice at Tata, for example. It’s a one-day workshop with six hours of live work with the instructor, and two hours of consulting related to the students’ specific business.

“It’s really more industry use case-specific training,” said Kaur, adding that each industry will have its own track. “We have lots of foundational tracks and some that are industry specific like insurance analytics or how to visualize medicare data,” she said. There is even a course for natural language processing in Chinese.

The site, which evolved from a Harvard University startup incubator, is preparing courses on technologies including blockchain and augmented reality. It will also create an API that will enable enterprises to create their own customer-facing training platforms that will help to increase adoption of their products and services.

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Danny Bradbury
Danny Bradburyhttp://www.wordherder.net
Danny Bradbury is a technology journalist with over 20 years' experience writing about security, software development, and networking.

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