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Google Curriculum, College Credit

Inside HigherEd – Tech giant gets hands-on with its new online IT certificate, as a growing number of community colleges and Northeastern University create credit pathways with the curriculum.

“Google made its first substantial foray into postsecondary education in January, with the creation of a new online certificate program aimed at people who are interested in working in entry-level IT support roles. Necessity was a key motivator for the technology giant, which like most has struggled to find enough IT hires and also is seeking to diversify its work force. And many observers say the move by such a powerful player in the economy is an intriguing sign of what could happen if big employers in high-demand industries increasingly take a hands-on role in postsecondary education and training. In its first five months, more than 40,000 learners enrolled in the Google certificate program, with 1,200 completing. “It’s a whole new marketplace, and it’s driven by the employers and the students,” said Ray Schroeder, associate vice chancellor for online learning at the University of Illinois at Springfield. “These companies for the most part don’t want to get into education. They’re going to do it because it needs to be done.” Instead of the typical approach of designing credential programs to meet employer demand, a growing number of colleges are following Google’s lead and creating college credit-bearing and accredited versions of the new certificate. So far more than 25 community colleges and Northeastern University have signed on to offer credit for the certificate program. Company officials say its content can be tweaked easily by college faculty members to create a customized certificate or stackable pathway to a degree. “We built the curriculum to be modularized,” said Natalie Van Kleef Conley, a senior product manager for Grow With Google. “It’s very flexible for them to use it as they see fit.” Finding qualified candidates for IT support jobs has long been a problem for Google and its parent company, Alphabet, which employs 85,000 people. “We were struggling to find hires. And we knew we couldn’t be the only company,” Conley said, adding that “we realized that being qualified didn’t mean having a four-year degree.” IT support is a hot occupation, currently accounting for 150,000 open positions in the U.S., according to Burning Glass Technologies, which analyzes the employment market. These are typically middle-class jobs, with federal data showing an average starting salary of $52,000…”

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