At last week's TechCrunch Disrupt Sebastian Thrun announced a new alliance, headed by Udacity, to develop "career readiness". This is a new attempt to address the skills gap by involving technology companies in providing education that is relevant to employment opportunities.
According to the launch announcement of the Open Education Alliance, its purpose is to:
provide students worldwide with the relevant and necessary skills and knowledge to pursue successful careers in technology
and it consists of technology companies who will partner with Udacity in providing "effective higher education" that will develop their skills in order to advance their careers.
At the current time, nine partners have joined forces with Udacity:
- Khan Academy
Udacity has already worked with several of these companies in providing its existing courses and its forthcoming Online Master of Science in Computer Science degree and in launching this new initiative, it is looking to broaden its circle of industry partners, and invite other educators to join in - with Khan Academy already onboard.
The announcement states:
To participate, members of the alliance commit to assisting in the curation and development of a new 21st century curriculum and to connect learners with opportunities in industry
This emphasised the way in which OEA is setting out to bridge the gap between the skills employers need and what traditional universities offer.
In a TechCrunch Backstage Interview Lt Governor Newsom, who was on stage which Thrun made the announcement commented that the formation of the OEA, while an initiative he welcomes, is sad in that reflects:
Failure of community college system, the California State system and the UC (University of California) system
and that the current system of higher education is:
insolvent - we're walking dead, We're on a collision course with reality.
Referring to rising levels of student debt and tuition fees he states that the existing higher education system is not sustainable as currently designed. He thinks that what is needed is something "dramatically different" and while he's not looking to move to online education, but instead favors a hybrid that blends with campus learning.
He concludes the interview by saying that what is needed is to challenge the public sector to become actively engaged with educators and be involved with designing a relevant curriculum - which is what the OEA is setting out to do.