What's the Latest?

Private companies AT&T and Udacity are teaming up to create what may become the future of higher education by offering 6-12 month online courses to teach vocational programming skills. Upon completion of the course, the companies will award a certificate called a "nano-degree", a name that is meant to emphasize the similarity to and difference from a traditional 4-year college degree. AT&T has said it will accept nano-degrees as a credential for entry-level jobs. Stanford professor and former Google engineer Sebastian Thrun said: "It’s a more focused education with less time wasted. They can get a degree quickly, get a job and then maybe do it again."

What's the Big Idea?

American higher education is badly in need of reform as tuition costs continue to balloon while the curricula fail to retain the flexibility demanded by the modern economy. The promises of first-generation online courses, which moved traditional subject lectures onto the Internet, has done little for those underserved by traditional higher education. "Instead, the evidence so far suggests that online education may do better in giving low-income students a leg up if it is directly tied to work. And companies, rather than colleges, may be best suited to shape the curriculum."

Read more at the New York Times

Photo credit: racorn/Shutterstock