Education

Through the new online market, community colleges hope to better compete with profitability

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Community colleges are gaining a foothold in the online course market.

They are about ten years behind their university peers, Who helped create edX in 2012In the same year, the startup Coursera launched its competitive service, Now worth millions.

But leadership A new platform called Unmudl It is time to say that community colleges are marketing through shared websites to collaborate and make their workforce training programs more widely available.

This is a vision that is very different from the traditional mission of community colleges to serve the community-around the literal and physical of the campus.

“They want to serve in their own area, but their market needs to go further,” said Holly Zanwell, a research professor at George Washington University and co-director of the Skills, Certificate and Workforce Policy Program, who recently Published a commissioned report on Unmudl“The future of the world is not focused on your own backyard.”

After two years of planning, Unmudl has several community college partners, a very purple brand, and Even jingle Try to rhyme the word “unmudled” with “befudled”, “puzzle” and “bundle”.

Now, it only needs students.

Julian Alssid, Chief Marketing Officer of SocialTech.ai, the company that runs the Unmudl platform, said: “There are hundreds of people using it, not tens of thousands.”

Employment courses, not credit courses

Unmudl advertises its services as “adults” and they are looking for “a better job in weeks instead of years.” Many of the more than 200 courses currently offered through the platform last only a few days or a month.

All courses provide skills training clearly related to employment. The course introduction features statistics about typical industry wages and lists the companies that have hired completers. The platform is designed to allow recruiters to contact course lecturers about job opportunities and even directly contact students.

Some courses are completely online, while others are designed with face-to-face components. Prices range from US$12 for online on-demand courses on quality improvement to US$9,000 for online synchronized course teaching software engineering.

“Some of these courses are not cheap,” Zanville admitted. “Universities don’t want to be defensive. Some of these courses are high-end, valuable real estate.”

Despite the support of community colleges, not all courses are eligible for credits. The report documenting the origins of Unmudl states that “universities have a great opportunity to gain admission within the non-credit range”, especially among working adults who want to work and not necessarily have a degree.

But the platform is helping community colleges think about how to use Pre-school assessment If the user really needs it, even if the course does not count credits technically, credits can be awarded.

“In fact, we work with non-credit parties mainly because they can respond to the industry as quickly as possible,” Alcide said. “We fully recognize that credit is still the main currency in this field, and clearly show the connection between non-credit and credit.”

Who benefits?

The cost of operating Unmudl is shared by community college partners and employers who pay to access the platform. Revenue is also shared among universities offering courses, Alssid said, “15% or 20%” goes to SocialTech.ai, “to keep things going.”

Unmudl aims to help community colleges attract learners from all over the country. Alcide said that so far, these institutions have not had a “national online platform” for recruitment, and therefore drained potential learners to for-profit universities that “have historically been better than communities targeting specific jobs and occupations. Universities do better”. “

“The opportunity to enter these markets is great. Now they are just a player,” Alcide said. “This is an important public service.”

The benefits of using Unmudl for learners should be better jobs and salary increases. But not everyone is optimistic that the platform’s short-term courses are a reliable way to improve people’s employment prospects.

Monique O. Ositelu, Senior Policy Analyst for New America, Short-term certificate of study, Expressed “cautious and concerned” about the promise made by the platform. In the focus group she studied, many people who participated in short courses stated that their relatively short class time did not prepare them for their work, nor did they prepare for actual work experience.

Ositelu stated that the salary range associated with short-term skills courses can be misleading. Data analysis from New America shows that half of adults with short-term certificates earn an annual income of US$30,000 or less.

In addition, according to Ostielu, wage ranges and average levels can mask how experience and status affect wage inequality. For example, people who take short-term non-credit courses to supplement their bachelor’s degree may have different employment outcomes than people who have not received any other higher education. Women and people of color with short-term certificates tend to have lower incomes than men and whites.

“In our society, these unfair systems are so entrenched that it is automated. It takes a large degree of intention to ensure that you are addressing these equity gaps,” Ositelu said. “If you adopt this kind of package and unified approach, you will only widen these equity gaps.”

However, the leaders of Unmudl stated that the company is interested in using the platform to resolve inequality by recruiting people they might not be recruiting.

“So far, the employers we have spoken to agree that this is a way to solve the company’s diversity, inclusion and fairness issues,” Alcide said. “For many of them, They don’t usually see community colleges as a resource. “

Even if Unmudl helps workers get new and better jobs, the salary increase they receive may be fleeting.

“Very short-term plans that are less than a year old, they will have an incremental impact on your income. After a period of time, they will actually decrease,” Ositelu said. “Unlike a bachelor’s degree, where you continue to gain value.”

Unmudl may be able to solve this problem: more Unmudl.

As Tracy Hartzler, president of Central New Mexico Community College, said in the Unmudl report: “There is no doubt that we are thinking about lifelong learning.”

Broadcast message

As Unmudl launches its marketing campaign, you might think of this old saying.

For a long time, one of the advantages of for-profit universities over non-profit and public institutions is The large amount of money they can spend on advertisingThe leaders of Unmudl hope that cooperation with broadcasters can help their platform reach millions of people, otherwise these people may join for-profit competitors — or not receive higher education at all.

The TV company is Evoca, a startup that is piloting its media services in Idaho and Phoenix.It is the beneficiary Changes in federal technology policy This will increase the number of channels that the TV can receive, enable mobile devices to receive broadcast video, and make the TV more interactive through the Internet connection.

Although most of the content provided by Evoca requires a paid subscription, the company has created two free educational channels, one for children and the other for adults. Art Seavey, director of Evoca Learn and a former project officer of the Gates Foundation, said that the latter is called Path, which aims to become a “first stop discovery mechanism” to introduce the audience to career paths and related Unmudl training programs.

Alcid said the leaders of Unmudl hope that this “education” will help “people realize jobs they didn’t know existed before.” With the emergence of interactive functions”NextGen” TV service Like Evoca, it is easy for the audience to act on this awareness.

In a recent webinar outlining Umudl’s plan, a leader wrote a message in the chat window to explain this vision:

“Imagine a working learner sitting on a sofa to learn about a self-driving car or drone, and then the screen pops up: Register now-no application fee… Tap the remote control with the remote control, and you are in the course!”

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