Modal: A New Way To Accelerate Learning – Forbes


There is a new way for organizations to accelerate learning. Modal is an employee education platform focused on core tech skills. What’s new, compared to the dominant video course model, is Modal’s learning model, short sprints, and cohort grouping—it’s engaging, modular, and collaborative. 
After a five year run at Udemy,  the founders of Modal, Darren Shimkus and Dennis Yang know the benefits and limitations of video-based learning. They saw three problems with traditional enterprise training— low accountability for utilizing training content, no connection with peers, and limited effectiveness of applied skills.
Aiming at skilling up existing employees, Modal is a next generation learning model that combines: 

Employees learn with a cohort of peers in eight week Journeys. The mix of projects, live events and asynchronous content keeps engagement high. 
Learners earn a certificate for completing a Journey. Mastery judgements are made on final projects using rubric based performance assessment. Each unit also includes pre and post self assessment. 
“We couldn’t have built this model two years ago,” said Shimkus about the new appreciation for how engaging and collaborative learning experiences can be structured online.  
The eight week Journeys (see a sample of nine below) can be combined into personalized pathways that meet employee growth goals. 
Modal Journeys Visual
New Journeys are being developed and released about every three weeks. The current module development focus is on tech jobs: data analysis, cybersecurity, and cloud computing. 
Journeys target critical skill clusters defined in a proprietary ontology that can be mapped to enterprise skill definitions. Working with an internal skill map will allow Modal to remain agile in the next few years when skill definitions and credentials are likely to be dynamic.
The initial focus will be on the North American market for language and time zone reasons—but aspirations are global. The product roadmap is informed by partners at Walmart, Siemens, Citi, Cisco, Fidelity and Lyft. 
Modal is licensed in annual subscriptions on a per learner basis. 
The company raised $6.7 million in a seed round this month—a big first round signaling investor confidence in the proven edtech founders.  
The Modal instructional design—blended and project-based learning in short sprints aimed at priority skill clusters in dynamic cohorts—is used by a few innovative new schools and training programs. It’s likely to become more common as Modal scales enterprise learning.