A handful of new options are reshaping the American post-secondary landscape.  Scrappy startups are creating efficient pathways to good jobs in niche markets.  At the ASU Education Innovation Summit (#eisummit) I had the opportunity to moderate a session with leaders from four of these exciting new post-secondary pathways:

  • Fidelis get vets into the best university possible and helps with job placement when the graduate.  Active military personnel find Fidelis, get linked to an academic coach, and form an advisory board of mentors.  Fidelis helps students set incremental academic goals that build to long term goals and build a portfolio incorporating talents, interests, knowledge, skills, and networks.
  • Fullbridge addresses the problem that even top college are not preparing students for the workplace.  A rigorous integrated 30 day boot camp coves 10 skills including using data, working in teams, managing projects, communicating effectively.  Programs are designed around three core competencies: professionalism, sense of direction, and contribution.  Fullbridge serve corporate clients like law firms and is launching direct-to-consumer.
  • General Assembly offers tech, design, and business courses for people building a business.  Centered around a co-location campus in lower Manhattan, GA has the buzz of an incubator with the course catalog of a next-gen merger of business and computer science school.  Highly relevant courses are taught by expert practitioners. Participants are smart and motivated.
  • Codeacademy is a free social place to learn to write computer code.  Participants ‘do’ as they learn and start creating evidence of learning on day one.

I asked the panel if degrees still matter.  Zak Sims from Code Academy said, “No, in coding, it’s skills that matter.”  On the other hand, Gunnar Counselman from Fidelis, is all about an efficient pathway to a degree and a job for vets entering the private sector.  Candice Olson, Fullbridge, said degrees can be a valuable market signal but young people need employment skills that they are not likely to learn in college.

Like the other panelists, Jake Schwartz and the General Assembly team sweat the details of producing productive learning experiences.  They listen hard to students and employers.  They measure everything.  They make student cognizant of what they need to learn and what they know and can do.

Dennis Litkey, Big Picture asked the panel about low income kids of color.  Gunnar said that Fidelis served a relatively high proportion of ethnic minorities.  Jake said as General Assembly scaled they would expand their capabilities to serve a broader group of participants.

Mickey Revenaugh, Connections Learning, asked if and when these highly effective job-prep services would be available in K-12.  There are some high school students taking advantage of Codeacademy.  The panel agreed that opportunities to learn more ‘Fullbridge’ skills in high school would a great benefit.

Other alternative post-sec companies at ASU included:

  • CorpU, (Corporate University Exchange) wants to transform the $18B leadership development segment with programming that blends 80% packaged and 20% custom content and strong research, tools, and monitoring.  Compared to executive training, CorpU wants to be “better than Ivy at a quarter of the price”
  • Sophia, a Capella company, aims to lower the cost of college, by making free, credible academic content available to anyone.  The social learning platform has a ‘many ways’ bar featuring different types of learning resources.  Sophia plans ‘pathways’ math and science where assessments confirm mastery.
  • Udemy brings together the best experts, free or paid, for casual learning, seeking accreditation, formal education, and corporate training.  Anyone can build a course made for public consumption—more than 10,000 courses have been created on Udemy.

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