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Cheaper and Smarter: Blowing Up College With Nanodegrees

04 Oct
A man waits before the University of Pennsylvania's 258th Commencement ceremony on May 19, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. With the success of digital learning companies like Udacity, which offers

A man waits before the University of Pennsylvania’s 258th Commencement ceremony on May 19, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. With the success of digital learning companies like Udacity, which offers “microdegrees” in software development and other studies that are recognized by leading companies (unlike other kinds of online courses), the traditional liberal arts degree “package” — even from Ivy League schools — may face competition. Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty

By Kevin Maney

For more than a decade, we’ve been expecting the Internet to blow up universities. But last time anyone looked, colleges are still raising their tuition costs and getting record numbers of applications. Online courses have so far been about as disruptive to college as tofurkey has been to Thanksgiving.

But now a company called Udacity, partnering with Google, shows us that we’ve been focused on the wrong disruption. The big change won’t be the digitization of college—it will be the unbundling of the college degree into discrete, focused chunks, which Udacity calls nanodegrees. In other words, technology will assault the college degree, not the experience of college, and that will make all the difference.

In fact, if you play this development forward a decade, it likely means that an expensive B.A. or B.S. won’t be necessary for a good career. A lot of people will do really well by skipping college and assembling a collection of nanodegrees throughout their lives.

The nanodegree got its start earlier this year. Innovations often begin with a problem to be solved. Google was wrestling with a severe shortage of people who knew how to develop apps for Android phones. Somehow, Google needed to get more Android developers trained and working. Google asked for help from Sebastian Thrun, a former Stanford professor who used to run Google X labs and now is CEO of Udacity.

[ Full article available at Newsweek: http://www.newsweek.com/college-nanodegrees-379542 ]

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Posted by on October 4, 2015 in Industry News, MOOCs in the News

 

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