I found this article rather intriguing, as the student looked at both traditional and alternative methods of learning, and found that in some cases, alternative methods yielded the same or better results than traditional methods. As a former online grad student, I can tell you that it was a little difficult, even as recently as two years ago, to convince people that my MSPTC from a brick-and-mortar school taken entirely online was as stringent and comprehensive as if I went to classes in person. I still see alternative education as a viable method, but as this student points out, since many alternative methods don’t issue a “degree”, some sort of standard needs to be agreed upon by those supplying the alternative methods of learning to be able to provide a credential or “legitimize” the coursework taken.
“Part of why people get an education is to learn,” he said. “But part of it is to improve their lives by earning a meaningful and valuable credential that can hopefully earn them a job.”
In his thesis, “Diplomas of the Future? The Role and Value of Innovative Academic Credentials,” Francis examined two forms of alternative educational credentials: MOOCs and occupational “bootcamps,” which are nine-week-long intensive programs that cost more than $10,000 and help software engineers develop necessary technical and programming skills.
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“Studies show that people learn similar amounts in an online class as they do in a lecture class, and my research found that people who graduate from developer bootcamps earn as much or more than the typical computer science graduate,” he said. “We know these alternative methods of education work.”
In addition to his research on the effectiveness of the programs, Francis interviewed recruiters and hiring managers from 20 high-tech Internet and software companies and learned what they value in a traditional college degree: selectivity, as someone else had already screened the candidate during the college admissions process; the on-campus experience that teaches interpersonal skills; and the broad intellectual foundation that teaches candidates how to think.