Startups teaching computer science alongside the traditional US education system

By March 01, 2013 Drop a comment
students learning how to code

In the digital era, there are an increasing number of programmes on offer that focus on teaching computer sciences. The majority are being developed by independent organisations and startups, which provide alternatives to traditional school courses.

 

In a society where digital has now become the norm, having a knowledge of computer sciences (CS) – basically computer programming/code-writing – is increasingly becoming a must. This is first and foremost because the demand for computer engineers continues to grow, but equally this type of expertise is now essential for getting a grasp of tomorrow’s challenges. It is therefore hardly surprising to see the number of training programmes for teaching CS skills on the rise. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), from Udacity in the United Statesfor instance, initially concentrated on computer sciences. Many start-ups (Udacity, Codecademy, etc.) are addressing the needs by developing a parallel teaching structure outside traditional formats, with the aim of enabling students to achieve the necessary skills in computer technology and learn computer programming.

From teaching to professional development

Besides teaching, many of the programs also aim to help students get a first job or publishing their first app, game, or startup.One example is MakeGamesWithUs, which helps students who don’t have much more than a beginner’s level of IT knowledge to build game applications for the iPhone. The site provides the students with courses in programming, supplies the necessary tools for them to develop their apps in a professional way, and offers support through online forums. Students are then encouraged to create their own games and publish them. MakeGamesWithUs “does the art, music and promotion” so that the game “shines on the App store”. Another start-up called Treehouse teaches students programming from A to Z – “from zero experience to job-ready” – focusing particularly on those with a precise goal, such as obtaining a job in the IT sector. Udacity also developed a hiring program for companies and students.

Collaborative initiatives are flourishing

Those programs are being developed by startups – some non-profit, and some with monetization plans. But while they do so outside the state education system, they are not necessarily entirely divorced from it. Many of these startups and other organisations are in fact aiming to forge relationships with higher and secondary education establishments, providing ‘off the peg’ solutions for schools and universities. A good example is TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools), a “grassroots employee-driven programme” that recruits, coaches and places high tech professionals as part-time teachers in high schools.In January,Coursera, a California-based education company, achieved accreditation for five online courses it provides to students at prestigious universities, among them Duke University in North Carolina. These educational startups are often criticised, as they follow a ‘for profit’ model. However, they are forcing the state education system to rethink its own approach to education. 

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