Virtual classroom to help young people learn new skills

The EtonX Future Skills Programme melds insight from Eton College's teachers with EtonX's expertise in content development, tech and online pedagogy

A new online learning programme that helps international schools and universities address gaps in the teaching of vitally important soft skills has been launched by EtonX, a subsidiary of Eton College.

The EtonX Future Skills Programme provides live online courses, devised by Eton College teachers in conjunction with EtonX’s digital content experts, that can be delivered to schools and students around the world through a custom-built virtual classroom.

The courses target an underlying lack of formal soft skills teaching for teenagers and young adults, with the aim of making their transition from education to employment smoother and more successful.

A succession of international reports and surveys have shown that secondary schools and universities are struggling to give young people the rounded skills and character attributes they need to thrive in today’s fast-changing workplace.

The McKinsey Global Institute reported last year that 60% of employers surveyed believed that graduates were not adequately prepared for work. Worries about the resilience of new employees are also widespread in business, according to the CBI, which represents UK employers. 

EtonX’s first six courses cover essential soft skills that are often overlooked in traditional, exam-focused academic curricula: Making An Impact, which focuses on the skills of active listening, influencing and assertiveness; Public Speaking; Verbal Communication; Writing Skills; Interview Skills; and CV Writing.

“The revenue generated by the courses will enable Eton College, which wholly owns EtonX, to expand its provision of means-tested bursaries for students.” 

Soft skills are not just beneficial to a young person’s career prospects, however. The World Economic Forum has also identified a link to academic attainment, finding students with social and emotional learning skills outperform in academic results by as much as 11 percentage points on average. 

Catherine Whitaker, CEO and Head of Learning at EtonX, explained: “Our Future Skills Programme helps teenagers to navigate a rapidly changing world. Students can start the process of gaining vital soft skills that often are not taught in a formal way at their school or can take many years to acquire through experience in later life.

“We are proud to be innovating in live online learning, capturing some of the key social and entrepreneurial skills of a world-class Eton College education in the form of exciting online courses that young people anywhere can now access and benefit from.”

Real-world insights

The EtonX Future Skills Programme combines real-world teaching insights from Eton College’s teachers with the EtonX team’s expertise in content development, technology and online pedagogy. 

Its learning model reflects some of the key aspects of an Eton education – such as confidence, communication and collaborative skills.

Each course lasts seven weeks and is available to students outside the UK. Participants are organised into study groups of eight students, led by an EtonX tutor. Learning is through interactive self-study, live online weekly classes, and peer-to-peer interaction. 

EtonX’s innovative virtual classroom makes powerful use of the latest video-streaming technology. High-quality video streaming enables participants to communicate effectively, learning new skills naturally and confidently in the online classroom. Each course costs $399. 

As well as being marketed to schools and universities, the courses can be purchased directly by individual students, parents and employers. Two further courses, Entrepreneurship and Critical Thinking, will be available later this year.

The revenue generated by the courses will enable Eton College, which wholly owns EtonX, to expand its provision of means-tested bursaries for students. The College is already making rapid progress towards its target of a ‘needs blind’ admissions policy, with approximately 20% of students now receiving assistance from its bursary programme and 79 students paying no fees at all.

EtonX Future Skills Programme’s first six courses became available last month.