In a press release Friday, Steve Wozniak, co-founder of the Apple computer, launched an online educational platform aimed to get people into the workforce “quickly and affordably.” The website, coined “Woz U,” is a 24/7 online service that grants students of all backgrounds access to programming and related courses. Woz U is equipped with live instructors and mentors, alongside a high-quality video-based curriculum and career resources.
The program’s specialty is flexibility; it’s built primarily for men and women currently working full-time, traveling, or—as Wozniak’s website puts it—in simple need of a more adaptive, personalized approach to learning. Currently, the site only offers a single course in software development and a training program in computer support. Wozniak forecasts that the company will make three additional courses available in 2018, exploring topics in data science, mobile applications, and
Currently, the site only offers a single course in software development and a training program in computer support. Wozniak forecasts that the company will make three additional courses available in 2018, exploring topics in data science, mobile applications, and cybersecurity.
Wozniak’s business plan resembles that of Salman Khan’s, whose multimillion-dollar ed-tech company amassed thousands of users and is seen today as a leader in driving heuristic, simplified education. But Woz U’s wide range of educational purposes differentiates its offerings from Khan Academy’s: its focus on recruiting, re-training, and retaining employees is marketed specifically toward improving the quality of human capital. Nonetheless, Woz U sees itself in K-12 STEM education, with the hope of unleashing the full potential of project-based learning in the typical American classroom.
Most interesting is Woz U’s “Accelerator,” an ambiguous, provocative idea that Wozniak—intentionally or accidently—chose not to display on the site’s front page. With a release date of 2019, Accelerator is a program meant to identify and develop the most elite students in Woz U’s online courses. Accelerator then places these students into the world’s fastest-growing technology firms and arguably ensures them lifelong success. Students in this program will take entrepreneur courses and learn how to finance and run their own startup ventures. The aggressive program hopes to last 12-16 months.
Woz U comes equipped with a mobile app aimed to lead students to the best available career path for them. I’m unimpressed by Wozniak’s initial pitch: to me, the app is merely an aptitude test designed to assess a student’s strengths and weaknesses. Current students, however, can access course content through the app. Still, I’d pass on this download if you’re a student unphased by Wozniak’s lofty goals for this premature venture.
Woz U’s core values defy the status quo. I especially like the emphasis he places on “family spirit”: one of his primary objectives for the new startup is to develop teams and provide resources to empower students who otherwise couldn’t afford technology-based classes. Woz U’s mission statement is a bit fluffy—the company hopes to be “open-minded” and “determined”—but I’m interested to see how it translates to educating the less-fortunate. I doubt that low-income students will take advantage of Wozniak’s opaque platform. Wozniak’s online platform has amazing, philanthropic intentions, but it’s far too early to be assessing its long-term feasibility in the already competitive, heavily concentrated ed-tech industry.
Source: Woz U