Education is a key part of what makes any economy function. As the population grows, jobs become increasingly specialized, requiring new and unique kinds of training to maximize effectiveness. One area in which this has become especially relevant is in the field of data science. To further explore this topic, we looked to the work of Jonathan Cornelissen, who has dedicated a large portion of his life to helping improve educational resources in the field. Read on for a look at this work and how these types of educational efforts fuel the modern workforce.
Much of the work of Cornelissen stems from his efforts to create DataCamp, an online resource aimed at educating people on issues related to data science, such as specific programming languages. The founder came up with the idea when he was pursuing his doctorate in econometrics. During that time, he was required to learn the programming language R, which he found difficult. Once he was teaching courses of his own, he saw that his students had similar difficulties with the programming language, so he sought out additional resources to make it easier for them to engage in their studies.
To his surprise, there weren’t any effective and engaging tools at the time for students looking to increase their understanding in this area. For that reason, the data scientist decided to build just such a tool that could help students grasp some of the more difficult aspects of the field. After developing the prototype with a small team, he partnered with existing educational platforms, such as those offered by universities, to provide access to the software. The results were immediate and encouraging, as students found the tools useful for furthering their abilities. Since that small beginning, the company has expanded to assist millions of additional students.
Education and Opportunity
The ability to build on one’s existing skill set, such as through the company’s offerings, provides learners with increased access to opportunity. This is one of the clearest ways that education can improve quality of life, since that opportunity can improve one’s job satisfaction, earnings, and general happiness in a work environment. When these aspects of a person’s professional life are maximized, they tend to perform better and make more impactful contributions.
These benefits have effects outside the workplace as well, with plenty of studies pointing to the profound effects that our experiences in employment can have on other aspects of our lives. One way that this manifests is through our social interactions. Many studies have drawn a connection between a person’s general happiness and their willingness to engage in social activities. Since education can increase a person’s happiness through professional opportunity, it also has an effect on a person’s ability to engage socially and connect to friends. This principle extends to all other areas of life as well, such as satisfaction with family and romantic partners. The ways that education improves one’s happiness at work can have sizable impacts on nearly every aspect of life.
The educational work by the company founder is especially impactful when you consider the ways that the field of data science is expanding to touch many areas of modern life. This is evident in the nomenclature that we use to describe this period in history. While the recent past has been dubbed by many as the “Information Age,” many have taken to labeling the present period as the “Data Age.” This can be attributed to the many ways that data availability has increased starkly with the continued maturation of the internet and related technologies.
As a result of this increase in data availability, businesses and other organizations can now focus on data science in a manner that was never before possible. New data collection and analysis methods are illuminating paths toward increased efficiency and even entirely new methods of operation. While these changes are fueled by the general increase in data availability, they are equally driven by the ability of employees to work with the data at hand. In other words, without educational efforts to increase data literacy, the effect of new data flowing into organizations would be severely limited.
Due to the widespread need for data fluency, the data scientist’s company has seen its reach grow steadily over the years since its inception. This stands as a testament to the priority that people are placing on data and the need for individuals to fill more and more roles in the field. While the early days of the company saw it partnering with educational institutions based on the strength of its initial prototype, its current work is largely based on its independent platform that draws learners from all walks of life.
These students sign up with the company to learn basic data concepts and programming languages related to statistics and data analysis. With these tools, they can go back into the workforce and increase their ability to contribute to their organization’s goals. With that in mind, the company’s effect on the greater workforce has been expanding precipitously over the years. Now, as one of the go-to organizations for those seeking to improve data fluency, it contributes a sizable amount of talent and expertise to the overall economy.
From the above analysis, it’s clear that education is intricately connected to the viability of any economy. Without the ability for individuals to learn new skills, the potential for an economy to grow and change is extremely limited. This is relevant to the work of Cornelissen, as the economy once again makes a profound shift in focus. With the emergence of advanced data collection and analysis techniques, the work that the data scientist has done in creating new learning methods in the field is invaluable. For those interested in data science or the effect that a singular idea can have on others, the founder’s work makes for an interesting area of study.