What is Education as a Service? Everything You Must Know


a teacher giving class through a computer

What is education as a service (EaaS) and why should you care about it?  How does it differ from traditional education delivery and what value does it add for the institution and students?  How will it help your institute stand out with so much global competition?

Education as a Service (EaaS) is moving away from a traditional degree program to a just in time service model so the student gets the training just in time when the requirement arises in the workplace.  This fits in with Lifelong learning and the vast amount of and rapidly changing technologies.

Now that you know what EaaS is we can dig in a little deeper and look at what this means for education and your institution.

What Is The History Of “As a Service”?

As a service initially was created as a demand by software developers that were sick of the project based waterfall type models to software development.  Where requirements were gathered and work done behind the scenes and then delivered to a customer.  There might be  few iterations and then the product was released and put in a maintenance mode.

This then changed to agile software development where software became a releasable version including each small sprint or iteration, so at any time the software could be used.  Each iteration added new features to the software until the final product was created and presented to the customer.

When we think of the big software companies like Google and Facebook, is it really a software product they are offering or a service?  Google offers you the ability to search the web with their service.  Facebook allows you to connect to friends and family, join social groups, chat and exchange information with each other as a service.  

Has there ever been a Version 1 or 2 of Facebook or do the features just keep growing?  Will there ever be an end to Facebook?  If so, do the old models of software development even work?

This is why Software as a Service (SaaS) was born and in conjunction with smaller agile sprints or iterations, the new features get developed and released to customers with micro feature enhancements.

What are the Basics of Education as a Service (EaaS)?

The changing digital workplace that we work in requires a change to the way we deliver training to our workforce.  The traditional 3 to 4 year degree at the start of your career and using that knowledge for the next 50 to 60 years of your professional life just does not work.  We now face Lifelong learning and need an educational model that supports that.

The Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) has a changing list of skills required for a digital workforce that is constantly changing.  In 10 years time, the current job skill requirements will be completely different to the ones we have today.  So, what does this mean for each employee of each business?  Going and doing another 3 year degree every 10 years of your working life just does not work.  

So how do we top up our skills to remain relevant when the list of skills continues to grow?  If you can not learn all the skills, at once, you will need for your career, how do you get just in time learning for the skill you need right now?

Micro-credential is one way traffic, universities have tried to do this with postgraduate mini courses that provide you with a specific skill set.  Examples of this are EdX MicroMasters and Udacity Nanodegrees.  But is this enough flexibility for the current and future workers?

That is where EaaS comes in and provides highly focused training for the student exactly when they face a task they don’t need to do.  This can be seen on educational sites like Udemy, Skillshare and Pluralsight.  

But with these websites, there is no guarantee of quality and vocational certification like a degree from University.  So EaaS is a model that allows a similar style of training but with the industry recognised certification and quality of higher education.

How Important is Education as a Service?

Changing educational institutions to EaaS is critical not only to adapt to current and future workplaces but for long term sustainability of them as well.  Covid-19 forced all of Higher Education to go online where as before a lot of them only offered some courses online.  

This means the online competition for a graduate is now fierce as a student in Australia. Any student can now take any course online in the USA and visa versa.  Geographic location now no longer determines where you get your higher education.  So how do educational institutions keep their competitive advantage and compete in this crowded space and how do they provide current and future students with what they need?

Instead of thinking of a student as a 3 to 4 year transaction with the possibility of a postgraduate course why not think of them as a 50 year customer?  Let’s not just engage them at the start of their career but at EVERY stage of their career where they need upskilling or retraining.

For this reason, from a financial point of view, education as a service is critical for higher education.  Students will prefer the education service they have used before and trust to provide them with the knowledge and skills they need to complete their job not just now but for the rest of the working life. 

How Can You Prove that Education as a Service (EaaS) is Better than Traditional Degree Programs?

Well, there are multiple differences between them and you can easily see that the EaaS model is surely better than traditional institutional degree programs. 

Here are some differences between the models:

Traditional Degree ProgramsEducation as a Service Model
They are fairly rigid. Flexible to the task at hand
Ability FocusedSkills Focused
Theory FocusedPractical Implementation Focused
GeneralisedSpecialised
Good Initial TrainingLifelong Learning In The Workplace

This table has shown a clear difference and made it crystal clear that we need to accept evolution and focus on the EaaS model rather than traditional degree programs. 

How To Change From A Degree Focus To A Skills Focus?

How many times has someone been hired for a job due to the degree they hold and have none of the skills required to do the job?  If you did your degree 30 years ago, does it still even matter other than proving 30 years ago you showed the ability and aptitude to finish the degree?  

And what does all this have to do with EaaS?  Instead of using a degree as the focus for a hiring decision or a boss assigning a task to a staff member, would it not be better to look at the current recognised skills they have?  

The EaaS model allows us to change from the one big learning experience at the start of our careers to the micro learnings we can do throughout our career.  Then you hire the person that has the right skillset you need rather than a general qualification.

We already see this in the IT sector where people are hired on their current skill set and not what qualification they did.  Some countries do still really care about where you went to school like the USA and India for higher paying jobs.  But for the rest of the world, the degree puts you at the top of the employment pile and it doesn’t matter where you went to university.  

The skills and experience you have gets you the job.  So we can already say that industry has been on a skills focus for a long time and educational institutes need to catch up.  This shows the need for then to change to an EaaS focus.

Glen Brown

I am a Technical Trainer and Manager with over 20 years experience in IT, Education and Business. I have multiple qualifications on each topic including post graduate qualifications. I have a passion for sharing knowledge and using technology to do this. If you would like to know more about me please see the about page of the website.

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