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U Texas at Austin Adds Online Hands-On Learning

The University of Texas at Austin is trying scenarios to teach its students how to apply specific skills in the real world, but the practice will be online and supplied by an outside company. Beginning this month, the Professional Development Center will incorporate activities provided by XTOL Masters.

The "experiential" training that students will receive is designed to simulate on-the-job work. The participant is placed into a company and asked to be part of a team working on a specific project. For example, the lessons on search engine optimization expect a deliverable that has a list of customer search queries ranked in priority order, a rationale for the prioritization, a list of optimization strategies recommended by the student, and a description of the steps required for implementing each strategy. That course will run from October 21 to December 13 and cost $2,495.

The lessons will incorporate email, videos, work in small groups, and mentoring delivered by professionals in the field.

XTOL was founded by Roger Schank, a former professor of computer science at Stanford University, Yale, Northwestern, and Carnegie Mellon. He also held the position of chief learning officer for Donald Trump's failed experiment in higher education, Trump University. Schank actually received his PhD in linguistics from U Texas, Austin.

The Learn by Doing courses will cover data analysis, finance analysis, e-commerce, Web development using Ruby on Rails, search optimization, and people management.

The training will give students "a hands-on learning experience that they can turn around and use immediately in their current positions," said Center Director Liliya Spinazzola. "Virtual training and collaboration with instructors and professionals from around the country provides students with a real-world learning environment that can help them succeed in their current careers or branch off into new ones."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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