Online Learning

New 2-Year Online College Promises Future-Proofed Job Skills, Offers Free Tuition for First Cohort

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A new two-year online college opening in January 2019 promises to instill the "future-proofed" skills students will need for management jobs that are ubiquitous and growing. Intended for working adults in the United States, Foundry College will be granting free tuition for the entire two years for its first cohort. After that, the cost will be $1,000 per class or $6,000 per year. The school is being launched by Stephen Kosslyn, former chair of the Department of Psychology and dean of Social Science at Harvard, and the founding dean of another innovative institution, Minerva Schools.

"There are 46 million adults in the U.S. with some college and no degree, many of whom are particularly susceptible to labor automation," said Kosslyn in a statement. "By identifying what humans can do better than machines — and then effectively teaching these 'future-proof' skills and knowledge — Foundry College can help both working adults and their employers to adapt and thrive as the labor force changes."

Foundry students will earn an associate degree in business management with a focus in one of three areas: customer service and sales, healthcare administration, or systems and service management. These areas were chosen, the school said, because people can find jobs all across the country, and they're expected to "experience rapid growth in manager-level job opportunities in the near future."

But the emphasis will be on helping students develop skills that would really be applicable to any field. Foundational courses will cover clear communication, critical analyses and practical problem solving. Next, students will develop "automation-resistant" job skills, such as how to organize their work, manage their emotions, stay motivated, work with others, collaborate and negotiate, and master new material as their job requirements change.

The school will use the competency model. Students pass quizzes to demonstrate competency before they can move on to the next class in the course. A full load would have six courses each year for a total of 12 courses, and is designed to last two years. However, students can take between one and three courses at a time. Classes will be held for 90 minutes twice per week, and the time will be the same every week. For the launch class beginning in January, the class times will be finalized based on student input given during the admissions process. If a student misses a class he or she will be expected to watch it in recorded form.

Adults who apply don't need to have a high school diploma or even a GED. Nor do they need to take a college entry test. Foundry has two free online assessments for applicants, intended, an FAQ explained, "to help us ensure that you are set up with the right type and level of support during the program."

Student support services will include free 1-to-1 personalized coaching, tutoring and a student community. Once accreditation is in place, the college asserted, students will be able to qualify for need-based financial aid (including grants) and loans. Course materials are included in the price of entry.

Foundry promises access for students to employers for possible internships and open positions. The school will be working with companies to provide upskilling for their employees and to gain feedback for program development.

"Stephen Kosslyn is a force of nature who is truly one of a kind — Ivy League academic dean, world renowned neuroscience professor, groundbreaking curriculum developer, and one of my own favorite teachers at Harvard. With Foundry College, he is bringing disruptive change to a long-dormant segment of the education landscape that serves tens of millions of students in the [United States] alone," said Rob Hutter, the founder and managing partner of Learn Capital, which supplied $6 million in startup capital for the college. "Stephen understands that mainstream colleges need to evolve from principles conceived in the 1950s to embrace a social-online experience that transforms lives with real learning science and employer integration at scale."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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