Seeking Better-Trained Workers, AT&T, Google and Other Firms Help Design and Even Fund Web-Based College ClassesBy Douglas Belkin and Caroline Porter
Big employers such as AT&T Inc. and Google Inc. are helping to design and fund the latest round of low-cost online courses, a development that providers say will open the door for students to earn inexpensive credentials with real value in the job market.
New niche certifications being offered by providers of massive open online courses, or MOOCs, are aimed at satisfying employers’ specific needs. Available at a fraction of the cost of a four-year degree, they represent the latest crack in the monopoly traditional universities have in credentialing higher education.
“The common denominator [among the new MOOC certification programs] is that there really is an interest in finding credentials that don’t require a student to buy the entire degree,” said Sebastian Thrun, the Stanford University computer-science professor who co-founded Udacity, a MOOC with 1.6 million enrolled students in 200 countries. “This is really democratizing education at its best.”
MOOCs began gaining wide popularity two years ago when three providers started offering high-quality online courses free to anyone. Millions of people have taken the classes, but most MOOCs don’t lead toward degrees or help students land jobs.
[ Full article available at The Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324807704579087840126695698.html ]