A new federal program seeks to join traditional higher education institutions with the burgeoning market of coding boot camps.
Students in higher ed have been searching beyond the walls of their institutions to prepare for dream jobs in tech, and shorter-term coding boot camps have found success in capturing a growing market.
Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships (EQUIP) invites Title IV schools to participate in what the U.S. Department of Education is calling an experiment to bring nontraditional education programs, such as coding boot camps and massive open online courses (MOOCs), under the wing of higher education institutions.
The partnerships allow students to use federal financial aid to pay for online educational opportunities at coding boot camps such as Flatiron School, which specializes in condensed computer programming courses; the school will in turn be partnered with universities.
"EQUIP will accelerate and evaluate innovation through partnerships between colleges and universities and non-traditional providers of education, such as intensive 'boot camps' building skills in particular fields, specific programs awarding certificates aligned to employer needs, and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)," according to a blog post by the department.
Through this program, the Education Department hopes to increase transparency and generate new data on the effectiveness and quality of these programs.
Higher education institutions have been grappling with how to adapt to the changing lifestyles of students and the digital marketplace of ideas that online coursework has created. The EQUIP program provides a pathway for universities to remain important for students seeking these alternative forms of education within a traditional education environment.
During his keynote session at EDUCAUSE 2014, Clayton Christensen, the Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, said the online disruption in higher education is among America’s most important problems. He sees the prevalence of brick-and-mortar universities dwindling as students increasingly seek out certifications and accreditations instead of standard degrees.
“When it becomes modular, then anybody can declare themselves a university," said Christensen.