On December 29, 1959, American physicist and Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman at an American Physical Society meeting at Caltech entiteled ‘There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom‘, which is generally considered to be a seminal event in the history of nanotechnology, as it inspired the conceptual beginnings of the field decades later. Not only that he was a divinely gifted lecturer and tutor, he also made significant contributions to quantum mechanics and quantum electrodynamics for which he finally received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965. In a 1999 poll of 130 leading physicists worldwide by the British journal Physics World he was ranked as one of the ten greatest physicists of all time.
Announcing nanodegrees: a new type of credential for a modern workforce:
In my role working with partners and external companies, people often ask me what differentiates Udacity’s culture. Out of everything I share with them, one thing stands out: our passion. There is a fire in the belly of every single person that works here at Udacity to create a better education and better opportunities for our students. It’s what defines our community. Lunch and hallway conversations revolve around how we can improve learning for the changing job landscape; what is most relevant to our students; how can we impact the world even in the smallest of ways with our courses. And throughout, we have worked with over 20 industry partners behind the scenes to help inform these conversations. As students, you’ve likely seen the results in courses built with the best experts from Google and Facebook to Cloudera and salesforce.com.
Today, we’re bringing these partnerships further to the forefront as we introduce credentials built and recognized by industry with clear pathways to jobs. Together with AT&T and an initial funding from AT&T Aspire of more than $1.5 million, we are launching nanodegrees: compact, flexible, and job-focused credentials that are stackable throughout your career. And the nanodegree program is designed for efficiency: select hands-on courses by industry, a capstone project, and career guidance. Efficient enough that you can get a nanodegree as you need it and earn new ones throughout your career, even if you need to switch paths since a career isn’t always a straight line.
As we have often talked about, the accelerating change in technology demands this new model of lifelong learning. McKinsey estimates there will be a shortfall of 85 million skilled jobs globally in 2020 driven by the rapid changes in technology. Students will need to acquire new skills and hone previously learned ones in time for their next job or strategic initiative to keep pace. They will also need to acquire this learning while balancing their time with current jobs, families, and personal interests.
We are designing nanodegrees as the most compact and relevant curriculum to qualify you for a job. The sole goal is to help students advance their career: whether it’s landing their next job, their next project, or their next promotion. It should take a working student about 6-12 months to complete without having to take time off. We will teach all the necessary skills together with why those skills matter along with career guidance. In other words, you won’t just learn *how* to code, but also *why.* The initiative is endorsed by companies such as Cloudera, salesforce.com, Autodesk, as well as Technet, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, sf.citi, and the Business Roundtable.
Our early nanodegrees will prepare you for a job as a front-end web developer, back-end web developer, iOS mobile developer, Android mobile developer, or data analyst. The first nanodegree will start this Fall. These are just the first of many nanodegrees we’re developing with leading technology companies.
We’re also excited to share that AT&T is making up to 100 paid internships available to top students who complete nanodegrees, and are offering scholarships to non-profit organizations starting with Genesys Works and Year Up.
A Smart Way to Skip College in Pursuit of a Job
Udacity-AT&T ‘NanoDegree’ Offers an Entry-Level Approach to College
A review of MOOCs co-written by Professor Hollands concluded that the typical community college student often did not have the literacy or the drive necessary to benefit from courses that require a lot of self-motivation and offer little if any face-to-face interaction.
But even if MOOCs have failed to deliver on their original promise to educate the poor, they have proved more effective with another slice of the population: Americans who may already have a higher education and a job, but who feel the need to acquire new skills to progress in their careers.
Udacity was the first to move in this direction, focusing on a more humble business model helping companies create MOOCs to train their workers and customers.
Google, for instance, teamed with Udacity to create MOOCs for programmers who work on Google platforms. They have a course on game design in HTML 5, and another on Android.
“We want to fast-track the best practices at a large scale,” said Peter Lubbers, who is in charge of MOOC developer training for Google. “We want all the techniques we know about to get out to the market.”
Udacity helped Cloudera, a software company, make a MOOC to teach customers and potential customers how to use its systems to analyze big data.
The “NanoDegree” is a step in a similar direction: offering a narrow set of skills that can be clearly applied to a job, providing learners with a bite-size chunk of knowledge and an immediate motivation to acquire it.
It may not offer all the advantages of a liberal arts education, but it could offer a plausible path to young men and women who may not have the time, money or skill to make it through a four-year or even a two-year degree.
AT&T will accept the NanoDegree as a credential for entry-level jobs (and is hoping to persuade other companies to accept it, too) and has reserved 100 internship slots for its graduates. Udacity is also creating NanoDegrees with other companies.
If all goes according to plan, Mr. Thrun says, Udacity will ultimately create an alternative approach to the “four years and done” model of higher education, splitting it into chunks that students can take throughout their lives.
“It’s a more focused education with less time wasted,” Mr. Thrun told me. “They can get a degree quickly, get a job and then maybe do it again.”
This isn’t the kind of educational pathway that encourages much smelling of the roses. The live college experience is probably better at providing noncognitive skills.
For many young Americans, though, the alternative to the traditional path may well be no useful degree at all.
“We still need rounded people, which you can’t get through mini-certificate courses,” Professor Hollands said. “But we also have an economy to run here.”
7 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT MICROLECTURES
A microlecture is a short recorded audio or video presentation on a single, tightly defined topic. Microlectures are typically produced by an instructor, who might begin by drafting a rough script that includes an introduction, a list of key points to cover, and a conclusion. Public microlecture sites such as Khan Academy and TED-Ed have made the format a familiar staple of informal learning. These short lectures encourage a self-directed model of learning, allowing students to select lessons to watch and to move through them at their own pace. Microlectures are easy to integrate into the curriculum because they can be used in a variety of ways and are short enough to fit almost anywhere, and they offer an appealing option for mobile learning.
The 7 Things You Should Know About… series from the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) provides concise information on emerging learning technologies. Each brief focuses on a single technology and describes what it is, where it is going, and why it matters to teaching and learning. Use these briefs for a no-jargon, quick overview of a topic and share them with time-pressed colleagues.
In addition to the 7 Things briefs, you may find other ELI resources useful in addressing teaching, learning, and technology issues at your institution. To learn more, please visit the ELI Resources page.
Badges for Lifelong Learning:
A digital badge is a validated indicator of accomplishment, skill, quality or interest that can be earned in many learning environments. The world is changing fast and, today more than ever, traditional modes of assessment fail to capture the learning that happens everywhere and at every age. Digital badges are a powerful new tool for identifying and validating the rich array of peoples’ skills, knowledge, accomplishments and competencies. Digital badges inspire new pathways to learning and connect learners to opportunities, resources, and one another.
Advancing Learning 2014: Badges in Higher Education
Grant, S. & Shawgo, K.E. (2013). Digital Badges: An Annotated Research Bibliography.
Digital Badges on HASTAC.org
HASTAC administered the Badges for Lifelong Learning movement, and this Digital Badges page represents the work we did with the 30 Badges for Lifelong Learning projects funded to build some of the first badge systems for learning. Anyone can join the Badges for Learning Researchgroup, or the Badges in Higher Education group. We’ve also put together20 + webinars on topics related to badges.
Design Principles Documentation (DPD) Project:
The Design Principles Documentation Project tracked the badge system development of ~30 winners of the Badges for Lifelong Learning competition. A team of researchers followed each project’s intended practices to see how they were enacted and formalized for continued operation after the grant period. Four types of badge system functions were identified: recognizing, assessing, motivating, and studying learning. General design principles in each category are also identified. (In particular, take a look at the card deck — very helpful for anyone designing the badge system.)
The Reconnect Learning Summit 2014:
Reconnect Learning is an outgrowth of efforts to research and support the growing badge ecosystem. From the 2011 launch of the Badges for Lifelong Learning Competition to the creation of Mozilla’s Open Badges platform, work around badging has intensified in recent years. Led by MacArthur, HASTAC and Mozilla, Reconnect Learning is designed to support and encourage conversation, innovation, research, design and implementation of digital badging. (There are some helpful resources on this site)
Join live conversations about badges:
This is a recently formed “network of organizations and individuals building and enhancing an open badging ecosystem” that involves working groups formed to focus on specific topics. Higher ed is one of the groups, as is workforce development, acceptance by employers, and research. It’s free to join this group.
Badges for Learning Research
This is a group of people interested in research in, on, and around badges for learning. This is a good place to keep up with interested questions about badges, as well as active badge research. HASTAC also administered several badge research competitions, and the five winning proposals are shared here. Anyone can join.
Badges in Higher Education
This is a group of people interested specifically in topics related tobadges in higher education. Anyone can join.
Mozilla’s Open Badges
Really active, dynamic weekly community calls that focus on both badge system design and general topics. There is also an Open Badges Google group, and a dev group. Anyone can join.
Reports & Articles:
The Potential and Value of Using Digital Badges for Adult Learners. American Institutes of Research. July 16, 2013.
Expanding Education and Workforce Opportunities Through Digital Badges. Alliance for Excellent Education. August 28, 2013.
Open Badges for Higher Education. Acclaim. Pearson’s fairly decent overview of badges in higher education.
How Badges Really Work in Higher Ed — this is an article published in Campus Technology, and highlights some of the challenges involved in implementing badge systems.
Badges: New Currency for Professional Credentials is a MOOC that is available indefinitely. It’s produced by Blackboard and WCET. I’m currently getting an error message when I try to access the MOOC, but I emailed colleagues affiliated with site and they are working to resolve the problem. Hopefully it will be up and running soon.
Digital Badges in Higher Ed: An Overview is a white paper written by Brett Bixler and Ken Layng at Penn State University.
Badge System Design Tools
Platforms Issuing Badges
This is a helpful spreadsheet that lists all the platforms issuing badges, including features.
Badge System Design Template
A useful tool developed by Carla Casilli at Mozilla (now Badge Alliance),this template will help designers start thinking through some of the prompts that need to be answered before building the system.
Design Principles Documentation card deck
These cards were designed by Nate Otto of the DPD project, and include the ~40 design principles that emerged from research on the Badges for Lifelong Learning projects. Another great tool for organizations in the early stages of badge system design.
Badge Systems in Higher Education
University of California-Davis badge system:
- SA&FS case study on Reconnect Learning
- Design Principles Documentation project case study on SA&FS badge system
- SA&FS project Q&A | Digital Badges: Lessons Learned
Randall, D., Harrison, B., & West, R. (2013). Giving credit where credit is due: Designing open badges for a technology integration course. TechTrends. November/December 2013. Vol57:6. 88-95. Retrieved May 22, 2104: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11528-013-0706-5