Most employers still don’t take MOOCs seriously as a credential—most but not all. It looks like MOOCs are beginning to gain some traction in the tech industry. As PC world reports, some tech companies are beginning to hire programmers without an academic background in programming based, at least in part, on their performance in computer science online courses.And these companies aren’t just looking for a certificate of completion. Many are looking for courses that give students projects where they can see their work in practice, allowing the students to prove themselves directly to prospective employers. One executive explained his company’s approach:
”We’re not theorists here. We’re actually buildings things,” said Chad Morris, product lead at Mandrill, the transactional email service from MailChimp. “We’re really looking at what it is you’ve actually done.” […]”We rate education relatively light here,” Morris said. To him, a traditional college education and online learning hold the same value and convey the same information: that a person has been exposed to code. […]”I’m going to have to see projects that you’ve actively worked on. I’m going to have to talk to you and get a sense of how much you’ve actually retained of that information. Any of the best programmers that I’ve hired didn’t go to school for computer science.”
This is smart: students should be judged by how much they know rather than how long they’ve spent sitting in classrooms. It’s not clear how this will spread beyond the tech world—it’s much easier to devise an online project to demonstrate knowledge in computer science than, say, medicine—but if it does, it could make online courses far more appealing—to employers and students alike—than they are now. Academia, take note!