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Friday, 10 July 2015

Have you tried a Nano Degree?

Original Article:

This post is part of Hire Education, an occasional series about technological innovation in education and how it's reshaping the way students prepare themselves for a transformed workforce.
Udacity, a provider of online courses, is hoping to bring the idea of highly-skilled and career-specific Web-based learning programs to the masses. On Monday, the company announced its first “nanodegree" program in partnership with AT&T: a technical training program in mobile and Web computing that aims to prepare thousands of job-seekers for high-demand jobs.
Why nanodegrees? College isn’t for everyone, nor does it always position you in the right way for a job. Traditional two- and four-year degrees require commitment to a specific field, the desire and ability to take spend the time in classes learning both skills relevant and irrelevant to your eventual career, and, usually, a very large chunk of money for tuition that has risen dramatically in the last two decades.
The Vocational School Goes Online And High-Tech
There are options for people who’d like to take a different career path—vocational schools for things like automotive technology, health and beauty services, and, more recently, coding programs that promise a fast-tracked way to learn how to build apps.
Udacity's non-accredited nanodegrees aim to be a series of what CEO Sebastian Thrun calls “stackable” programs that complement different skills.

“By putting in half a year of work, less work that you put in for a regular degree, we can get you from one point to another,” said Thrun in an interview at the New York Times Next New World conference on Thursday. “For instance, if you’re a skilled programmer, we can turn you into a mobile programmer, and for mobile programmers, there’s an endless number of open jobs right now. Or we can take you from programmer to data scientist.”
The series of courses are taught as massive open online courses, or MOOCs, a popular format for online learning. The nanodegree programs focus on entry-level software skills, and the first one will be recognized by AT&T for software jobs. Giving the program weight is the promise that students can potentially kickstart their careers in technology through AT&T.
AT&T is helping design content for the program, guaranteeing its relevance for jobs at the telecommunication company, and AT&T plans to offer some graduates a paid internship at the company, as well as provide scholarships for students who are unable to afford the program.
A Cheaper, Faster Route To A Degree
Founder and CEO of Udacity, Sebastian Thrun, thinks NanoDegrees will help students expand their skills and find new jobs.
Nanodegrees are designed to be completed in less than a year, at a cost of just $200 a month. Some coding schools can cost upwards of $10,000, making the Udacity program seem like a relative bargain.
AT&T is currently the only company working with Udacity to offer a nanodegree, but Udacity is planning on launching career-specific programs with other well-known tech companies.

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