Another article about the desperate need for coders in the job market. Another article about not needing a degree – in this case a computer science degree – another article about learning online and not in a college (or any other place of learning). I read this today with new eyes and new thoughts, as I had made a big decision over the past couple of weeks, to take up a job developing an IT Academy within industry (big, corporate industry) rather than pursue my failing academic career. Perhaps this is the first sign of my thinking changing from academic to practitioner/knowledge provider.
As universities shrink, the opportunity for career advancement shrinks (in my case disappeared), and this is happening everywhere. Staff are being laid off, it is harder and harder to find ‘tenured’ lecturing positions, and a PhD is now mandatory. The number and choice of degrees is smaller than it has been for many years, the size of classes grows to unwieldy proportions and the student/staff ratio has become unmanageable. The cost to the student in return for the value of a degree has started to look very questionable indeed, and in the light of the vastly changed job market they find themselves in perhaps not even necessary at all. Sure, a degree isn’t only about getting a job, but who has £40,000 to spend on ‘becoming the best version of you’?
Another, more subtle, change is taking place that as yet is going unnoticed by those who plan and manage the future of higher education institutions. It isn’t now as simple as people opting to study online (MOOC, code courses etc) as oppose to university, it is about the changing measurement of knowledge, and the respect given to those who are providing it.
In the above article from Mashable Startups (The Alternate Universe of Over-Employed Web Developers), Ryan Carson, founder of Treehouse, is interviewed about the new Treehouse Jobs Board. His comments are ominous for formal tertiary education in relation to coding related subjects:
“… right now a few jobs on the jobs board still list a computer science degree as a requirement, but Carson says that first, he doesn’t believe a degree is necessary to be a good (and employable) technologist, and second, he notes that everyone is not able to afford a college degree. In the future, job listings might specify how many points in a Treehouse category (such as Ruby or HTML) applicants are required to have.” (NOTE: emphasis added by me.)
When Carson talks about “…in the future, job listings might specify how many points in a Treehouse category […] applicants are required to have”, he isn’t only bigging up his company, he is touching on something VERY challenging to the world of higher education, that is, how we measure the accreditation of a set of knowledge or skills. If points on a scale of specific training will become a more trustworthy and accurate way of measuring someones ability to do a job (in this case, one that can earn high salaries very quickly) than a formal higher education degree, then there is no future for coding/tech based degrees at all.
I know from experience that my past cohorts of students would use resources like Treehouse and Codecademy to learn the practical skills needed to progress as there was no teaching on their degrees for this kind of thing, and they were not happy about that at all. I myself have learned more from Codecademy or earlier versions of this kind of thing than any practical learning I did on my degree (Multimedia Systems MSc, 2005). Other resources via YouTube (e.g. LevelUp Tuts) provide fantastic, accurate and trustworthy knowledge that just works. Why do a degree? What is the point? In the modern world of the post information revolution, what place has old university got?
[Img: working on my own online learning resource last year, which works with a sister badged learning platform.]