It’s called SkillsOnline, a website that offers self-paced and instructor-led courses on topics like management, marketing, Microsoft certifications, web design and medical billing. Most courses cost less than $150 and are often one-third of the cost of similar courses on popular skill-share websites.
– Computer programming: ActionScript and Multimedia in Flash CS4 ($75)
– Manufacturing: Fundamentals of Purchasing and Vendor Management ($75)
– Nursing: Certificate in Complementary and Integrative Health ($225)
SkillsOnline is the product of WHRO Public Media, the PBS and NPR member station for Hampton Roads, Virginia. WHRO is owned by the 19 school divisions of southeastern Virginia and is the leading provider of digital educational resources across the state.
I talked with Bert Schmidt, president and CEO of WHRO, about SkillsOnline and his goals for the new website. Here are the highlights from our conversation.
Me: When people visit SkillsOnline, what can they expect to find?
Bert: The site features 19 different industry sectors in areas like health care, finance, manufacturing and legal. SkillsOnline is everything from getting a better job to improving the quality of your life.
Me: What sets SkillsOnline apart from more established online learning websites (ex: Udemy, Coursera)?
Bert: While individuals can visit SkillsOnline for the exact courses they need, we’re also pushing hard to partner with colleges, organizations and businesses so they can customize a set of courses. We want SkillsOnline to be a benefit to their employees.
Me: What are the different teaching styles offered through the courses?
Bert: We work with a lot of different vendors so you’ll find a wide variety of techniques. Sometimes it’s text heavy, sometimes video tutorials and other times it’s interactive. As much as we can, we want to take an educational topic and make it an interactive experience.
Me: You mentioned the creation of workplace skills modules. What are those?
Bert: We are in the process of creating 22 different modules for workplace readiness skills like “Internet Use and Safety” and “Applied Math.” It’s practical information that’s needed in the workforce by most employers.
Me: What’s your ultimate vision for SkillsOnline?
Bert: We want the program to spread across the state [Virginia] to more colleges and chambers of commerce. Beyond that, we have the opportunity to work with employers to create courses specific to their needs. We can save businesses money and improve the educational experience for employees. The customization of education will be critical to success of SkillsOnline in Virginia and beyond.
Thanks to Bert Schmidt for his time and willingness to explain SkillsOnline. Go ahead and check out the site. You’re bound to find a course — or two — that will boost your career.