Digital platform for students

Honing professional skills online

Rashik Riasat | Published: September 20, 2018 00:08:08 | Updated: September 22, 2018 18:34:30


The members of the online learning venture of Bangladesh Youth Leadership Centre (BYLC)

Intending to equip the youths of the country with 21st century skills, Bangladesh Youth Leadership Centre (BYLC) has relaunched its online venture BYLCx with rigorous online courses, highly intuitive user interface, and a mastery-based teaching method.

BYLCx promises to offer courses that will equip learners with the essential skills that companies are looking for in the 21st century. Coming from a bit of backstory, Khaled Saifullah, product manager of BYLCx, had a fascinating insight from talking to CEOs of top companies in Bangladesh. He came to realise that there is a void in our youths’ learning and that stands as a barrier to employment.

“I spoke to the HR head of Pathao and came to know that for simple skills like digital marketing, they have to turn to India. This is not an isolated case. People are saying they are not getting jobs, whereas employers are having a hard time finding the right people. They are hiring many expatriates to fill the void of skilled employees. All these gave us the message that we can work on this problem. With this goal in mind, we have started focusing on 21st century skills with our online academy. To do that, we scouted for research from various global associations and tried to make a list of skills that will be essential to have in an ever-changing job market. Now we are willing to create courses focusing on those skills,” explained Khaled Saifullah.

Asked about why the commencement of online courses, the Founder and President of BYLC Ejaj Ahmad explained, “We have been in the offline training programmes for ten years, and now that we have started incorporating online programmes, we are not trying to get rid of the offline activities by any means. You can learn all that you want from the Internet, but if you cannot implement them in the real world, none of that matters. This is where BYLCx comes in handy. We are doing something that nobody has done before in Bangladesh: we are combining both online and offline programmes to give the students the best of both worlds and to equip them with real-life skills.”

Their teaching method is based on mastery learning. The basic is simple: it is not possible to build one storey on another without having a strong foundation. The building will collapse eventually. Similarly, when it comes to a student's promotion to an upper level, he/she cannot have a 50 to 60 per cent lacking in the previous level. In BYLCx, to complete any course and earn a certificate, one must complete all the quizzes one by one and pass each one of them.

So far, they have launched 25 courses that are under schools of professional development-- leadership, innovation, communication, data science, financial management, and many more. Some courses teach the learners how to tackle procrastination, ignite creativity, master interpersonal skills, write a speech, storytelling effectively, negotiate, solve problems and much more.

Once someone has fully completed a course, BYLCx automatically provides him or her with a certificate. The ones with a premium membership can reap the benefit of job placement support: “If you have completed the course, we have full confidence in you, and we would like to connect you to the employers. One of our core aims is to employ the people. We also have people in our office of professional development who are constantly learning what skills the employers need in the ever-changing 21st century,” said the product manager.

This initiative will help the employers as well: “Most companies hire people and then spend the next four to five months training them, teaching them relevant skills. BYLCx can come in handy in reducing this inefficiency. You can conduct the interviews and hire people, but you do not have to waste months training them. We are looking after that sector. We are providing the skills that you want. You can check their certificates from BYLCx and even verify them easily,” explained Khaled Saifullah.

The effort that they put in building the interface is praiseworthy. The interface is user-friendly. The website loads very quickly. The whole user-interface (UI) is designed to keep learners engaged at all times.

The signup process is relatively simple. Until now, to signup, one has to submit necessary details about himself/herself. Although they are planning to make this process more relaxed in future by incorporating signup via Google/Facebook account. Once they are signed in, they have to hit the ‘enrol now’ button, and that is it. The courses comprise of videos, key concepts and quizzes, which one must pass to get a certificate. They are currently providing a full free scholarship for the first 1000 members who sign up.

The ‘why’ part of Marjuk Ahmad, executive-curriculum development, and instructor was pretty clear: “I think the underlying goal is not just equipping a generation with employment skills, but to help them build skills like creative thinking, critical thinking, problem-solving, overall an individual’s overall development and that’s what keeps us motivated.”

Asma Ul Husna Sanchita, an instructor, exclaims, “Since I’m very fond of the process of continuous learning, working here is allowing me to learn a lot in diverse areas. I’m able to internalise them and pass them on to my students, which is very fulfilling to me.”

They are planning to launch the discussion forum very soon, which will enable the students to interact and engage with each other. They also have the intention to have partnership programme through which different entities with different skill sets will collaborate up to launch new courses.

They are also planning to visit different institutions and hold workshops to get people to familiarise with BYLCx.

“The quality difference between an online course from a digital platform and an offline course from a top university is minimal, but the reach difference is huge,” says the founder. For BYLCx, leveraging that opportunity with success is the main challenge.

The writer is a first year student of BBA programme at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), University of Dhaka. He can be reached at rashikriasat404@gmail.com

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