The massive open online course, MOOC, format feels more like a way to explore new subjects than an obvious path to a job or career change.
But a new "nanodegree" initiative from the MOOC platform Udacity and AT&T could begin to change that perception.
The idea behind the nanodegree is to make a certification program that's affordable, efficient, and accessible. That means it will be available to anyone with Internet access; it will take less than 12 months to earn a nanodegree; and it will cost around $200 a month.
Better yet, once the courses are completed, you'll be in good standing to compete for a job at AT&T. The company will work with Udacity to design courses that provide students with entry-level software skills, with AT&T providing the direction of course content. AT&T will then provide as many as 100 paid internships to nanodegree graduates. The nanodegree will also be "fully recognized for entry-level software jobs at AT&T."
"The nanodegree creates a new and innovative way to obtain industry-relevant skills," said Randall Stephenson, AT&T Chairman and CEO, in a statement. "This will widen the pipeline of STEM-trained talent. It will also help our employees build skills in these areas."
"We are creating the nanodegree to give lifelong learners access to affordable credentials that will be recognized by employers as they move forward in their professional careers," said Sebastian Thrun, founder and CEO of Udacity.
But as the Wall Street Journal points out, the certification program is not yet recognized by any higher education accreditation body. Though Thrun told WSJ he hopes this becomes program becomes an "industry-wide platform."
According to Udacity, this is the "first of many nanodegrees we're developing with leading technology companies."
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