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Money & Finance Opinion

Twitter University: A Game Changer in EDU?

By Tom Segal — August 15, 2013 2 min read

A bit of news on the acquisition front caught my eye earlier this week, something I am particularly excited about not just for the specific maneuver itself, but for the long term applications and implications on the learning experience as a whole. Twitter, my personal favorite form of social media, has acquired Marakana, an open-source technical training company that will now serve as the infrastructure behind a new effort called Twitter University.

Chris Fry, Twitter’s Senior Vice President of Engineering, had this to say:

As Twitter has scaled, so too has our engineering organization. To help our engineers grow, it's important for them to have access to world-class technical training, along with opportunities to teach the skills they've mastered. To that end, we're establishing Twitter University."

Though this particular transaction is designed for internal purposes (at least to begin with - Twitter has a history of opening its projects to the public), that is, the continual learning experience of Twitter employees as they seek to stay on par with the ever-adapting expectations of the programming and computing world, it demonstrates that the corporate tech world is taking notice of the power and increasing ease of customizing a curriculum tailored to a real world profession.

I hope this is just the start, and my guess is the concept will transition into a much richer, outwardly facing experience. It only makes sense, both from the perspective of the employer and of the future employee, that those accredited bodies tasked with preparing the next generation workforce would have at the very least . I believe community colleges would make a great hub for this sort of experimentation - why wouldn’t Facebook or Google take a crack at crafting, or at least advising, a program designed to train a crop of students uniquely molded to the actual real world experience of a Facebook/Google career? Not only would there be more alignment within opportunities and outcomes of the college experience, but there would be far greater transparency in the hiring process as these corporations have a more granular understanding of how these perspective employees could operate within that particular work environment.

That whole two-week on-boarding and training process? Unnecessary, just get right to work. Not only do companies find better fits for their current opportunities, but they can literally tailor their future applicants to the available positions and future direction of the company itself. Meanwhile, students are not simply sacrificing time/energy/dollars on an education filled with theory and potential: they are developing real world skills with direct application to a potential job outcome.

Heck, this sort of thing could eventually dip into K-12 as well. Why not? Not that I’m advocating a charter network powered by Amazon (though that would be pretty neat, and Mr. Bezos does seem to have a propensity for making ambitious maneuvers with political/social ramifications), but what if Tesla or SpaceX were to sponsor a series of after-school engineering programs across public high schools? Who says no to that?

I’m sure there would be all sorts of regulatory boundaries to navigate, as there always are. But screw it, this is a path worth pursuing, and ultimately too achievable/sensible to not win out.

Are you listening, Sheryl Sandberg?

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