Job-Hunting Via Completing Online Courses

At WSJ, Caroline Porter and Melissa Korn report that a new “online marketplace” linking courses teaching specific job skills to actual jobs is being put together. The marketplace, dubbed Balloon, will launch “with a catalogue of nearly 15,000 technology classes from big-name course providers including Microsoft, Adobe Systems, Coursera and Udacity.” The corporation behind Balloon is Apollo Education Group, Inc., notoriously known for it’s for-profit college The University of Phoenix, which has struggled to get students to enroll lately “amid regulatory scrutiny and student concerns about debt and job prospects.”

The connection between Balloon and the University of Phoenix raises eyebrows, but the idea of linking classes about specific skills to jobs is an interesting one. Will it prove to be effective?

The most revealing admission comes from EMC, a data storage provider that posted 10 courses on Balloon:

Though Balloon could offer new leads for prospective hires, he said that EMC likely won’t extend job offers to students just because they completed a recommended course sequence. “We value a degree,” he said.

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I think I’ve mentioned this before, but my mom actually graduated from University of Phoenix with an accounting degree. She had done a lot of college coursework back in the day but was moving around a lot and couldn’t assemble the credits into a degree. She also had done bookkeeping for various companies for many years. So maybe not your typical student, but she now has a great job as an accountant, and she did actually learn some things, so it’s not all bad?

This is why I always feel a little sad when I read cheap jokes about the University of Phoenix — also because I know I’d be the one making these jokes too if not for my mom. And yeah, they do have a lot of scammy and exploitative aspects, too. (I should also point out that at the time she did this, online degrees from traditional universities were still fairly uncommon.)

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