Innovation in Analytics Education: Great Lakes using mentored learning for Online Courses
Analytics education industry is increasingly becoming a competitive landscape. This is primarily fuelled by the fact that Analytics & Data Science industry is one of the fastest growing sector, has dearth of good talent and is poised to grow significantly in coming years.
As the sector is still in its nascent stage and getting hold of good faculty is usually a challenge, most of the training programs have focused on delivering the training in a simple and traditional manner.
It was only a matter of time before we started seeing institutes coming out with non-conventional ways to accelerate learning of their participants. And one of the first ones to do this is Great Lakes Institute of Management (GLIM), who combined the online course with mentored learning.
As usual, when we heard about it, we decided to dig deeper into what is in store!
Background – the online course
The Business Analytics Certificate Program offered by GLIM in partnership with Great Learning is an interesting program. The program is designed for a duration of 6 months and is a combination of self-paced and live virtual online classes. It consist of 100 hours of self-learning resources, 40 hours of mentored learning led by analytics mentors and 20 hours of course assessments. The program covers essential tools like SAS, R and advanced excel which are being widely used in the industry today. The lectures are conducted on Learning Management System (LMS) including webinars and Q&A sessions. Students can also access the LMS app through their phones to continue their learning anywhere. The faculty teaching this course have more than 15 years of experience in analytics domain. The best part is that, the course material can be accessed for 3 years after the completion of the course.
In the first year of the course it has generated enough buzz from the industry. The candidates enrolled for the course come from varied industry domains.
Introduction of mentored learning
Attrition rate is high in online courses. Debate or points of uncertainty can lead to confusion, even alienation. To tackle this problem GLIM combined their online BACP with mentored learning. A dedicated mentor coupled with online course ensures continuous motivation. The mentors provide complete support and takes away the uncertainty. Each mentor is assigned 4-5 students and interaction happen informally through Whatsapp groups.
The mentor – mentee relationship is driven by mentee. The candidate is expected to take the initiative in communication and working with the mentor to establish expectations, goals, and objectives and benefit in achieving their career goals.
Benefits of mentored learning
Mentored learning provides an opportunity for candidates to understand the industry demands from an analytics professional. It helps the candidates carve their skills accordingly and get their dream job.
The mentor/mentee partnership is bi-directional, an effective collaboration which is helpful for both individuals to upscale valuable skills and form relationships that can be utilized throughout their career.
Let’s understand how mentored learning can be beneficial and what can you expect from the course.
- Personalized Development Opportunity: Dedicated mentors help in addressing individual learning needs and develop skills & expertise. Students can reach out to the mentors for any guidance they may need to develop their skills for the desired profile.
- Peer Learning: Mentors ensure there is consistent engagement between the candidates. They share case studies and use case challenges to encourage a healthy discussion among the group and learn from each other’s diverse industry experience.
- Achieve Goals: An industry mentor paves the way to the future career. They equip students with industry insights, knowledge and empower them to focus on the professional goals. By linking students to a mentor from their field of study, students can get a better understanding of the career paths from the professionals within the desired professionals
- Mentor Intervention: If any student is not performing well, they step in, help them, encourage them, etc. If any student does well, they celebrate news in a group, which automatically encourages candidates for further tasks, etc.
- Networking: Links students to experienced analytical professionals from the industry and helps them build relationship & seek job opportunities.
- Be Industry ready: Right guidance from mentors help candidates learn about best industry practices and become industry ready.
Who are the mentors? / How are the mentors selected?
Mentors are industry experts with in-depth knowledge about the industry who work closely with candidates to make them industry ready and prepare them for problem solving skills. They inspire candidates to think about the range of work options available and to actively support their career exploration, professional development, and networking in their field and/or industry.
Industry mentors are selected based on their work and life experience in the private and public sector and willingness to share their time, skills, and knowledge with the BACP candidates.
Early reactions from the mentors and the participants.
We spoke to two mentors associated with BACP to find out what is their take on this initiative. And what they told us was insightful.
Jeetinder Bedi is an analytics expert with 11 years of experience in analytics industry and currently works with an Investment Bank. He is one of the mentors on the program and is very enthusiastic to share his knowledge with the mentees. Here, what he said “I like to help analytics newbies to prepare them for challenges faced in the industry. It is a great opportunity for me to advise amateurs and teach them about latest industry trends. My main focus is to inculcate problem solving skills in the students, because execution is easy and one can learn about tools & techniques by reading online but challenge lies with the thought process and approach, & how to follow the right metrics. The mentored learning helps provide support system to the participants and help them identify right approach.”
Vinol Joy is another mentor associated with the program, with 4 ½ years of experience working with big names like Musigma, Flipkart and is currently heading the Business Intelligence team at Qraved. Here’s what he shared with us” It’s a well-structured program and mentored learning helps students get maximum out of the course knowing what to learn and how to implement what they have learned.”
Vinol also added “Speaking to a mentor and understanding what the industry uses, top trending tools and processes of industry helps the person chalk out an accurate picture of the industry. It also creates a confide in zone where a student can ask a mentor any question from any topic and not have the same of asking a dumb question in front of an audience”.
Here’s what the students had to say:
- “Till now, my experience with the BACP program has been superb. The best part about it is that your problem gets resolved quickly. It feels good when all your problems get cleared on time. All credit to their mentored learning approach. Here, not only the mentors support you, but the peers also pitch in with their learnings during a discussion. Because of peer to peer interaction, all students are benefiting in the group. Also, Program Support is also exceptional & easily accessible. ” Rajat Arora (Data Analyst-Ninja Cart)
- “The Overall experience has been great. The highlight is the assistance provided by the program support and the knowledge sharing that happens in the group. The way the doubts are being cleared is one good part of this program. The content is also very good.” SRIKAR MAKALA, HongKong Shenghai Banking Corporation
Who are the right fit for the course?
Working Professionals with at least two years of full time post graduate experience are eligible to apply. The course is beneficial for those who want to improve their skills at a convenience of online learning. The professionals with educational background like engineering, mathematics, statistics and economics who want to shift their career in analytics will make most out of the course. The combination of online course with mentored learning is beneficial for all those who are fresher to the analytics industry.
The majority of the batch has work experience between 2-5 years and 8-10 years. Candidates with exceptional background / achievements can also be selected for the course.
I am personally excited to see this interesting approach to enhance the learning experience from someone like Great Lakes. I could see that the people undergoing the experience enjoyed it a lot and feel that this could add a new dimension to their learning.
We wish Great Lakes continued success in their journey to create world class education in Analytics. If you have any queries regarding this program drop in your comments below.
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