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Anyone's Learning Experience (ALEX)

We are increasing access to higher education by creating an online marketplace for in-person courses for career advancement.

Photo of Sergio Marrero
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ALEX is an online marketplace where people advance their careers by taking individual in-person courses from across colleges, universities, and training programs. ALEX empowers professionals to learn exactly what they want, when they want, and as they can afford it. In a world where we can place people in empty seats in cars and empty beds in houses, ALEX places people in empty seats in college classrooms. ALEX is uniquely positioning itself in alignment with employers to provide tuition subsidies as a method of improving employee development and retention while reducing costs for users. Our solution provides benefits for all stakeholders involved. Learners control their education by selecting courses that fit their budget, schedule, and goals. Schools monetize their excess capacity that would have otherwise been wasted, increase access to more prospective students, and offer certifications on the way to obtaining a traditional degree. Employers subsidize classes for employees as a method of reducing internal training costs while improving employee development and retention. ALEX brings higher education to people who can't afford full programs, enables people to advance professionally by taking university courses one at a time, and provides workers with access to earnings growth potential of 9-27% resulting in billions in increased earnings. ALEX is the ‘Expedia’ for higher education.

ALEX is solving the skill gap between the talent that companies need and the education institutions provide. By 2018, 78% of all available jobs will require education beyond high school. As a result, there will be a shortfall of 3M workers with the appropriate education to fill these jobs.  Meanwhile, the cost of attending college has risen over 80% in the last 10 years, while the results are abysmal - 45% of graduates end up in jobs that don’t require a degree and outside of their field of study. While university training is meant to provide relevant skills to obtain jobs, the ‘bundled’ approach of higher education has become increasingly inaccessible and out-of-date. Simultaneously, over 2M seats go unfilled in college classrooms across the U.S. per year. Excess capacity in educational institutions is wasted while economically disadvantaged populations struggle to gain access to the courses necessary to adequately meet the current and future workforce demands.

Anyone's Learning Experience (ALEX) is an online marketplace of in-person courses for career advancement. We take the empty seats of in-person courses from educational providers including universities, colleges, and vocational programs and listen them in an online marketplace for learners to purchase. Working learners visit www.anyoneslearning.com and can search for courses by location and interest and enroll in a few clicks. For learners we streamline the search process for courses replacing the antiquated and fragmented process of going to each provider website and browsing the pages of PDFs and multiple formats. In addition we suggested courses aligned with learners current jobs and desired positions. For schools we provide a method of monetizing excess capacity that would otherwise have gone wasted. For employers we provide a source for training to retain and develop their talent. We are a marketplace of courses bridging the skills gap and building a platform for the future of higher education and workforce training.

Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine higher education to support the needs of tomorrow?

Our idea is designed for 'working learners'. Over 60% of the U.S. and 93% of the world do not have a higher education degree. On the other side 45% of learners who have a degree are in jobs that don't require them. There is a clear mismatch in the learning educational institutions provide and what the workforce demands. Enabling individuals to take one course at a time, allows learners to train and retrain to make sure they continuously have the skills that match the needs of the workforce.

This idea emerged from:

  • A group brainstorm
  • An individual

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

Ideas on how to better connect with companies to help them retain and develop talent, while making higher education affordable to employees. We have interviewed employees at hospitality, food services, and retail - all industries where you can advance with incremental higher education and employees want the training, but we need to work with human resources and leadership to offer training aligned with their job to employees.

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

We on-boarded 7 institutions and 35K courses over the last 5 months, demonstrating willingness from schools to participate. We have conducted over 100 user interviews and identified users are a point of professional transition as the target. Our next sets of tests have been landing pages on key Facebook groups offering to help in a career transition to identify our beachhead mkt. Here is a video on how we have pivoted and what we have learned in the last few months: http://bit.ly/alexpivot

Tell us about your work experience:

Team: Sergio, CEO, Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School, serial edtech entrepreneur, Deloitte Consulting, Teach for America www.linkedin.com/in/sergiomarrero Alana, CCO, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Boston Children's Hospital, design, front-end dev www.linkedin.com/in/alanamatos Anabell, CTO, Northeastern University, EcoVent, GoCode, Procter & Gamble, Development, Full-stack engineering, Python, SQL, HTML, CSS, and Javascript www.linkedin.com/in/anabelljimenez

How would you describe this idea while in an elevator with someone? 2-3 sentences.

We are a marketplace for courses. When you are going for a promotion, career switching, or need to fulfill requirements to enter a degree program, you can come to ALEX. We are the place to find the in-person courses in your local area you need to advance professionally.

What is the specific problem your idea is trying to solve? 1 sentence.

We are connecting workers who can't leave there job to enter a degree program full-time with the skills and community to advance professionally.

How is your idea different or unique from what is currently on the market?

Most other modular learning options are online and do not connect learners to the community and network to build relationships and social capital beyond the course content.

How do you plan to measure the impact of your idea?

Our outputs (short-term measures) are number of students served, courses completed, and revenue saved for learners (the difference between the list price and price paid). Our outcome (short-term measure) is increased earnings tracked from surveying learners on wage and salary changes over time. More info: http://bit.ly/ALEXimpactmodel

How might your idea be transferable to a large number of people?

ALEX is an online marketplace of in-person courses for career advancement. We connect people to the empty seats in courses across universities. In a world where we can place people in empty seats in cars, ALEX places people in empty seats in college classrooms. ALEX empowers workers and career switchers to select courses that fit their budget, schedule, and career without leaving the workplace or going into debt - connecting people to the experience and network for career advancement.

What are your immediate next steps after the challenge?

(1) Onboard as many schools from supply side (2) Iterate on the user experience and test with different user segments (personas) to identify out beachhead market (3) use a combination of financial feasibility and user feedback to determine what group of user to focus on initially (4) interview employers about partnerships to develop talent. More on Fin Model: bit.ly/ALEXfinmodel More on Comp: bit.ly/alexcompetition Prioritizing research b/c of interest in the education to career matching.

40 comments

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Spam
Photo of Nicole Sorci
Team

I love this idea! It is nice to see that you are serving the needs of both students and universities. I would love to see how you develop certifications along the way to getting a traditional degree. It is great to give students the opportunity to go at their own pace (and budget). I am curious to see what happens if they are only able to complete a few courses. What does certification look like in these cases? Excited to see more!

Spam
Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Congratulations!

Spam
Photo of Kaitlyn
Team

Hi Sergio,

I think ALEX is a great idea. It is economically friendly for both the universities and professionals and utilizes resources and opportunities that would originally go to waste. In addition it would stimulate the economy and workforce. It provides a viable, convenient, affordable option that would benefit careers for people who would not be able to take these classes otherwise.

Despite these advantages, I imagine there will be worries among the staff and students already a part of the participating university systems. They may be concerned about outsiders compromising the quality of the classes possibly through class contributions or discussions. Students may also think it unfair that people who did not go through the same application process to earn the right to enroll in the school will be taking the same classes. Will ALEX consider limiting class options to large lectures where individual presence will not impact as class quality as much? Will it have background checks or possibly qualifying exams? In general, how will your program account for this?

Spam
Photo of Sergio Marrero
Team

Hello Kaitlyn !

Thank you for the comments. I will give some insights from our numerous conversations.
First, the concern by "staff and students". Yes, some staff express concern, but students have not and in our cases were we observed a student taking a class the other students did not even notice they were not a 'full-time' student, so while it is a 'worry' in reality, from what we see there is no/limited impact. Actually when we speaking to people taking courses we have heard cases of the opposite result, where the individual - who works and is bringing outside experience into the classroom is actually enriching the conversation and adding more value than a student full-time who does not bring that experience (feedback from continuing professional education classes).

Second concern: "Students may also think it unfair that people who did not go through the same application process" For advanced courses there is still a 'filter'. The school has to agree based on the transcript and/or they have to complete an 'open enrollment' course first to demonstrate they are ready. We have not seen this as an issue, but we would argue, it creates a more transparent process to get to the class and learning you want. When you apply it is often a black box, where you get a decision without feedback, making it clear that if a student successfully completes certain classes before the advanced class creates a clear pathway for progress. We hope that it will help streamline the traditional process.


On class quality - the school is in full control, they determine the number of seats we post and manager there own quality.

For advanced courses they can review a 'blind' transcript and say yes/no and share what they have to complete prior, but the school in the end is making the decision.

Spam
Photo of Afrin Bhuiyan
Team

Hi Sergio,

This online market place seems like a great idea and providing open access to courses can definitely be of value to individuals who may not otherwise have access to education. I was wondering if course completion can be transferable to include some sort of certification that individuals could include on their resumes. I believe that could be a good way to track progress and it could potentially stand out to future employers.

Spam
Photo of Sergio Marrero
Team

Thank you Afrin Bhuiyan ! Appreciate it. Any feedback you have let us know. We are working to align learning to jobs and something is here!

Spam
Photo of Kaitlyn
Team

Hi Afrin,

I think this is a great idea. These people are investing their time and money in getting this education and are doing the same work as the enrolled students. It would be fair to give them some sort of certification to give them credit for their efforts.

Spam
Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Sergio and team,

There are a few hours left in the refinement phase if you have any questions feel free to reach out to me.

Spam
Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Sergio and team,

There is just a week left of refinement. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me.

Spam
Photo of Sergio Marrero
Team

Hey Kate Rushton ,

Just wanted to give an update, we do quite a bit of work offline and don't create content for all of it to post. We have interviewed over 20 people this week (1) Subject matter experts in the policy and education space (2) HR representatives (3) university administration and (4) learners.

There are many ways we can 'pivot' the product and service to better meet the needs of learners, but also balancing what is most 'viable' financially in the short term - the most attractive aspect seems to lie in the matching of education (in our case courses) to work (jobs). We are in the process of creating mock ups for this user experience for the three stakeholders (1) Educators, (2) Employers, and (3) Learners.

While in the 'design thinking' framework, it would help us better define a user segment to be our beachhead market, the number of users we would need to be viable is high and we believe a better path to monetization (aka viability) is in the employer and educator paying for involvement based on our financial model. Let me know if you have any guiding questions. I will add what we have and what we have learned before the end of the phase.

Spam
Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Sergio,

It is great to read all your updates on how ALEX is progressing. You might want to look at these ideas from previous challenges and how they presented their feedback from interviews:

Rightsize (Financial Services Challenge):

User Research:

I interviewed nine people who are in the target audience of adults 50-70 going through the downsizing, relocation, or retirement process and are looking to change their lives dramatically. To wrap up other outlier questions about downsizing, I also conducted a survey with 21 people and used a card sorting interview regarding retirement priorities from an earlier project.

Findings:

During midlife and post career major changes happen: career transitions, retirement, family shifting, and income changes. To adjust, many people reevaluate their possessions and lifestyle to maximize their funds. This process involves making crucial decisions that are financial as well as emotional over a long period of time.

When equipped with the right tools and information, this process could be an exciting, energizing time in life. Currently, there are many articles about downsizing on reputable sites as well as financial planning tools, but no service combines them.

https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/financial-longevity/top-ideas/rightsize/

Cobuy (Food Waste Challenge):

Cobuy has an interesting User Research section using 'circles of thoughts' to display the findings for the idea.

https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/food-waste/ideas/cobuy-group-buying-software-that-helps-people-buy-good-food-at-good-prices-together/comments#comments-section

Spam
Photo of Bianca Rodriguez
Team

Hi Kate Rushton & Sergio Marrero ,

I did an interview for the refinement stage. I have attached the link here: https://youtu.be/mwU8mFvOsFU .
I was wondering if you could give me any advice for future interviews and some questions that I could use.


Best,
Bianca
 

Spam
Photo of Sergio Marrero
Team

Hey Bianca,

The video looks great. Quick feedback on the questions... might just want to open with "What is your name, can you say a little bit about yourself?" and then follow up with the other questions. Over all You asked awesome follow up questions. Try only asking 1 question at a time, not to overload the interviewee. The feedback on the website was great!

In making the transition, ask, 'what' she did and 'how she did it'. Example:
When did you have to do to become a paralegal?
Did you have to take any tests? Or get any certifications?
What did you do to prepare? Did you take classes? If so which ones?
... you are collective 'evidence' of what they did and how it is tied to the outcome.

Example of some 'evidence' (things that she 'did' versus 'what she said') she said she found the articles interesting, but did not read any of them yet, the reality is 'she did not read them and saw the titles'... my assumption that the content was not as compelling for her or she would have read/skimmed at least one.

Anyway, great investigator skills!

Great feedback, we are going to take some of her feedback and update the website tonight and tomorrow so you can share with her.

Can you ask her what training courses she took to go from assistant to paralegal if any?
Great job! Who can you interview next?

Spam
Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Bianca,

Great interview! It is good to see how ALEX is progressing. There is some really useful feedback there from Jessica on the website.

Sergio has given fantastic feedback above. I personally like this video from GV on how they conduct their user interviews for their prototypes during their five day sprints. (although these are mainly in person) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9ZG19XTbd4&t=152s

You might be interested in looking at the feedback video for MarkIt - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mumEiw9I-Y8 - mentioned in the refinement toolkit - https://d3gxp3iknbs7bs.cloudfront.net/attachments/bda1f109-0466-4f8e-9699-1359e406df56.pdf It is an interesting way of displaying all the feedback.

Thinking about your question on who to interview next, why did you decide to interview Jessica? What other professions / types of companies would you like to get feedback on for ALEX? Are there certain types of companies that have generous budgets for training?

Spam
Photo of Sergio Marrero
Team

Thanks for the videos. Those are helpful. We are have a number of personas that we have served, but all are at a point of 'career transition'. Here background and shift into legal is one we wanted to capture... We are looking at retail and other companies with tuition reimbursement but that differs by region.

Spam
Photo of Sergio Marrero
Team

Here is a quick update from our team, since we do a lot offline and iterate constantly...

In design thinking we focus on (1) user stories and user interviews, from the startup perspective, since we have a range of users (see the testimonial slide) that value the product, but we have not figured out how to 'go to market' or reach a 'concentrated group' of users like the ones we identified during our testimonials and that are coming to us... the distribution (aka go to market) really makes or breaks the launch of a product/service. Example (we have made a product (higher fidelity prototype) that streamlines the search and registration process in a beautifully simple way, cuts out hours of time (which is great), but if we can not effectively reach our target consumer in a cost effective way, we do not have a sustainable model, so we are interviewing with many users and iterating and testing vigorously.

Here is an overview: We are a two-sided marketplace.

One side is our 'suppliers' are higher education institutions (and training/vocational programs). We focus on universities in suburban and urban areas outside of the top 200 schools, leaving ~2500 institutions in our target market.

We have spoken to administrators in higher education at over 50 schools and have a clearer (not perfect) understanding of which schools are within our target partners.

e.g. urban/suburban areas because there is a density of population and schools and schools outside of the top 200 because those schools are 'over subscribed' and care more about brand, endowment, and rankings than 'enrollment'.

Even with that clarity they are slow to on-board (3-4 months/school). Speeding up this process would be extremely valuable.

The other side of the market is learners. We are conducting user segmentation and market research tests (e.g. placing surveys and landing pages on ads/facebook/Linkedin), We are focused on 'working learners' defined as three personas (career switchers, promotion seekers, and degree seekers). To get more specific are conducting tests by industry for each persona type, until we identify the right user segment/s that can be our 'beachhead' market.

We are also preparing to contact human resources from across leading companies to learn how we may be able to partner with them to reach 'working learners' (e.g. suggesting courses aligned with jobs and promoting the use of tuition subsidies provided by employers increases retention). We have conducted interviews and testimonials, but not identified a a concentrated pool of the personas we interviewed.

Questions within 'Go to Market' Strategy:
What are the key/leading variables in measuring our progress? (e.g. # of schools, courses, learners)
Which are the first type of learners that represent a good beachhead market for us?
What is a cost effective way of reaching them?

Other questions:
Should we roll out by region?
What should define our regional density?
Are there opportunities to on-board schools and/or learners more quickly and effectively?
How do we expedite the on-boarding of schools?
How do we expedite the sign-up of users by user segment?

Spam
Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Sergio,

It is great to see how ALEX is progressing.

Are there any specific types of people you would like feedback from but have been really struggling to find contacts e.g. HR professions in IT sector, for example.

Spam
Photo of Sergio Marrero
Team

It has been hard to reach heads of HR, we are emailing a number of them now, but have not had many user interviews...

Spam
Photo of Max Noble
Team

Beautiful Mapping! Nice work

Spam
Photo of Danyelle Sage
Team

Hi Sergio Marrero 

I really love this idea! As I struggled to finish my degree, I become aware of a large number of professionals who have tons of credits but still no degree, and there a only a handful of universities that aim to help "fill in" the missing credits so that these individuals can earn their degree while minimizing loss of credits (which equates to dollars and time spent).

Is there a way for individual with these circumstances to get matched with degree-specific credits?

Spam
Photo of Sergio Marrero
Team

Thanks for the comment!

Yes, there is! Right now it is highly specific by program, but in certain states it is easier to 'recommend' courses aligned with finishing a degree because most of the universities all take credits from each other e.g. SUNY/CUNY schools. Our first step is creating the central repository of courses, the second is building the logic ('course recommendation engine') of which courses an individual can take, based on their objectives (finishing a degree, switching careers, getting promoted, ect.)

Spam
Photo of Sergio Marrero
Team

If you have any ideas for how we can improve that on our website please do let us know, any open and honest feedback is great!

Spam
Photo of Danyelle Sage
Team

I think the content is great!

My only feedback is some minor layout issues (this is the designer in me talking). I would left-justify the options under "refine" so it's easier for the user to read. Center your copyright info on the footer, and move the "Log in or Create an account" from the footer to the header (important stuff to the top!). It would be nice to offer a short pop-up blurb on the course description as you hover over the pictures, this way the user isn't forced to wait for the page to load to find out more.

Spam
Photo of Sergio Marrero
Team

Thank you! We need some design help.. :) Appreciate it.

Spam
Photo of Danyelle Sage
Team

Happy to assist if you ever need help with design or branding.

Spam
Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Welcome to the Refinement phase Sergio! We've added new Refinement questions to your original submission that we'd love for you to answer. Please check out the Refinement Phase Toolkit for instructions on how to answer the new questions and other recommendations we encourage all idea teams to consider in the upcoming weeks.

Refinement Phase Toolkit: http://ideo.pn/2du9sf7

Lastly, here's a useful tip: When you update the content of your post, it'd be helpful to indicate this in your idea title by adding an extension. For example, you can add the extension " - Update: Experience Maps 02/01" to you idea title. This will be a good way to keep people informed about how your idea is progressing!

Spam
Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Sergio and team,

I hope you are having a nice day.

There is an idea from one of our previous challenges on financing higher education that you might want to look at called ‘Unbroke’ - https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/higher-ed/impact/unbroke. It has a really interesting business model for negotiation.

Who are the competitors to ALEX?

Spam
Photo of Sergio Marrero
Team

Thank you! We are working on it! Fully loaded emailing hundreds of schools. We will share there comments as we get them.

Early findings: All are interested in filling empty seats - are interested more in filling empty seats in online classrooms as it is cheaper per student with little overhead. - But not ideal for learners based on our user interviews.

Spam
Photo of Sergio Marrero
Team

Thanks for highlighting UnBroke, I emailed Laura to learn more directly from here. There are many financial models. I think also we are balancing user need with our mission (increase access to higher education for all). Saving money for the 40% of the U.S. and 7% of the world that go to college is great - we are trying to understand how to increase access for all students. Also it does not address the 'over education' and mismatch issue between work and jobs (i.e. 45% of people with 4-year degrees are in jobs that do not require degrees (McKinsey Report)). It is a great idea/service, but may solve a different problem for a different user base.

e.g. saving money for current college students vs. making college more accessible for the 60% of the U.S. and 7% of the world that do not go to school...

The space is large enough that all of us meet a need.

I am posting a visual of the competitors and a link to more info on competition

Spam
Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Sergio,

How does this work for courses where prior knowledge is required? How would it work from an admissions point of view? How would they assess or determine that the candidate has prior knowledge?

This maybe a basic question, but what is a ‘seat’? How would Higher Education Institutions work out how many seats are available?

Spam
Photo of Sergio Marrero
Team

Hey Kate,

The educational institutions make the ultimate decision. We list primarily 'open enrollment courses' currently. If an individual can pay, they can take the course. Universities with prerequisites need to have 'binary' requirements defined (e.g. did they take the previous course "ABC".) Every course has a sequence of courses with the most basic being at the beginning, similar to 'knowledge maps' use by Khan Academy. This makes 'pathways to courses much more transparent. You can also create clear pathways utilizing pre-requisites from other universities - clarity and partnerships which normally do not exist between schools.

Also for those that don't want to take all the pre requisites, individuals can share the transcript and we will share with the university without personal information (for the university to render a non-bias decision) to say 'yes' or 'no'.

A 'seat' is a physical seat in a classroom, we are an online marketplace of in-person courses. The person signs up for the entire semester and is registered with the school as a non-degree seeking student and obtains credit (if that is what the school is offering).

In terms of availability of seats, most classes have empty seats and we leave it up to the university to determine the number of seats we are listing.

Spam
Photo of Sergio Marrero
Team

Hey Kate,

The educational institutions make the ultimate decision. We list primarily 'open enrollment courses' currently. If an individual can pay, they can take the course. Universities with prerequisites need to have 'binary' requirements defined (e.g. did they take the previous course "ABC".) Every course has a sequence of courses with the most basic being at the beginning, similar to 'knowledge maps' use by Khan Academy. This makes 'pathways to courses much more transparent. You can also create clear pathways utilizing pre-requisites from other universities - clarity and partnerships which normally do not exist between schools.

Also for those that don't want to take all the pre requisites, individuals can share the transcript and we will share with the university without personal information (for the university to render a non-bias decision) to say 'yes' or 'no'.

A 'seat' is a physical seat in a classroom, we are an online marketplace of in-person courses. The person signs up for the entire semester and is registered with the school as a non-degree seeking student and obtains credit (if that is what the school is offering).

In terms of availability of seats, most classes have empty seats and we leave it up to the university to determine the number of seats we are listing.

Spam
Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Sergio and team,

Welcome to the refinement phase, if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me by using @ and typing my name.

Take care,

Kate

Spam
Photo of Sergio Marrero
Team

Thank you Kate Rushton !

Spam
Photo of Teo John
Team

Hi Sergio,
Your ALEX platform has great potential. Do you have plan to expand outside United States ?

Spam
Photo of Sergio Marrero
Team

Hello Teo John ! We do have plans to expand outside the U.S. A university reached out to us in Costa Rica and we have added them to the platform. Do you have any ideas on particular educational providers or learners that would be interested in ALEX as we expand?

Spam
Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Congrats on this being today's Featured Contribution!

Spam
Photo of Sergio Marrero
Team

OpenIDEO That is awesome! We are excited to be featured! :)

Spam
Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Great idea!

What are the next steps for ALEX? What are the main barriers?

Thinking of the four sponsors of this challenge, could students be able to Hacking a Credential using courses from these sponsors?

Spam
Photo of Sergio Marrero
Team

Next steps for us, we are...
(1) on-boarding schools with empty seats (they take some time), we have 7 universities so far, but warm introductions to leaders in others who have increasing enrollment as a top priority are needed
(2) Interviewing/Surveying more working learners to capture their information and share the courses that are related to their career path near their location as well as integrate feedback into our mobile application and improve our prototypes before development

The main barriers are getting to the leadership in universities, helping them see that modular education opens access for millions of learners, and getting them to engage there institution. The sponsor 'Level by Northeastern University' is great as they make courses more modular and would be a great partner.

Some course prices that are in the $5250 range are cost prohibitive. They are charging this much as it fits within tuition subsidies of companies and is targeting working learners, but if the learner has to front the payment and wait for reimbursement, they are helping higher income learners re-train and still leaving out the over 60% of the U.S. that may not have a degree and may be in lower income brackets - But would be a great partner to list courses and we would love to have them.

Another barrier that takes time is establishing partnerships with employers to help them retain and develop talent through investing in continuing professional education to defer the up front cost.

I agree that the 'Hacking a Credential' is a great idea. We are betting that the hack should be aligned with a job.