Udacity has been pushing the edge in “paid” MOOCs for a while. They really want to push you to their paid options over the free option. They offer coaching, project feedback, code review, and a verified certificate for the paying members. They offered a Masters Degree in connection with Georgia Tech. And now, they’re offering something called NanoDegrees in conjunction with several large tech companies. It’s the logical next step to making online training worth something in the real world.
The idea is that you take entry-level programming and other courses, and passing those classes qualifies as a degree to employers looking to fill those entry-level jobs. AT&T has already said they will recognize that NanoDegree as a real degree when reviewing resumes, and have reserved 100 internships for graduates of the class in programming being offered. Google already offers some courses through Udacity (like Android programming), and Cloudera offers training in it’s big data analysis product. Companies like this are incentivized to train people in their products and recognize that training as being “official”.
This is similar to the way Microsoft does official training (in class, or at home, or through webinars) for their products, and offers certifications like MCSD or MCSE which employers recognize as a useful credential. Why can’t Google and others offer credentials through Udacity? This would be a very popular option, and people would pay for it.
The real trick is getting employers to search for, and recognize, that training as having value. That’s what this NanoDegrees initiative is about. If you want to hire an Android developer, why not get someone who Google has certified as having that skill? Is there more value to that than someone who has several apps in the Google Play store? This has always been the question over Microsoft’s developer certifications, and will also be the same question asked here.
It’s a small step. Not really revolutionary in terms of online education offerings. But we’re definitely closer to having companies (software vendors and employers) creating their own curriculum instead of relying on the traditional colleges and universities.