Why AT&T Is Investing in Virtual School

24 Oct

Sebastian Thrun, co-founder and CEO of Udacity, at Bloomberg West in San Francisco on March 14
[ Photograph by David Paul Morris/Bloomberg ]

By Natalie Kitroeff

It made sense that the Georgia Institute of Technology launched an online-only computer science degree in January of this year. It was less obvious what was in it for its two corporate partners: Udacity and AT&T.

Sure, Udacity is an online education company. But the company’s founder, former Google vice president and self-driving car evangelist Sebastian Thrun, made his name by creating virtual programs open to anyone, not paid online degrees like the one Georgia Tech is offering. He is, according to Fast Company, the “godfather of free online education.”

Georgia Tech’s program has the technological trappings of a massive open online course, or MOOC, but it’s different from a MOOC in important ways. First, to get credit for the class you need to pony up $6,600. Second, graduates can claim a Master of Science degree that’s no different from the one someone sitting in a physical Georgia Tech classroom would receive—you don’t have to list “online” next to the MS on your résumé.

AT&T’s benefit from the program isn’t direct. While the company is helping bankroll the Georgia Tech initiative, the course does not amount to an AT&T training school. Unlike the deal that offered Starbucks baristas tuition benefits from Arizona State University, announced earlier this year, AT&T staff who want to take classes will not get a discount from Georgia Tech.

[ Full article available at Bloomberg Businessweek: ]

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Posted by on October 24, 2014 in Industry News, MOOCs in the News


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