Podium Education helps institutions teach tech skills


Noah Rost was in search of a fast method to give Arizona State University college students hands-on technological coaching. As the director of worldwide training, it was his job to assist college students purchase the digital skills they wanted to thrive within the international market. The pandemic had robbed them of internships and job provides, and finding out overseas wasn’t all the time an choice.

Rost discovered an ideal companion in Podium Education, a expertise firm that creates for-credit on-line international expertise programs for undergraduate college students, permitting institutions to increase their course choices to impart extra in-demand tech skills.

“Because of the pandemic, we quickly recognized that we needed to find ways to engage students in global learning opportunities that did not involve actual mobility,” Rost mentioned. “And so Podium was one of the opportunities that we decided to offer to our students as global tech programs in conjunction with others.”

Podium’s international tech program is taught by expertise specialists and provides three totally different tracks: digital advertising and marketing, coding and knowledge analytics. Brooks Morgan, CEO and co-founder of Podium, mentioned the corporate was modeled on conventional boot camps and school options however designed to be built-in into the undergraduate curriculum slightly than geared toward current graduates.

“Over the past 10 years, we’ve seen a tremendous amount of innovation in education,” Morgan mentioned. “But largely, it’s all been outside traditional undergraduate education.”

Podium and different boot camps are half of a bigger development of schools outsourcing a few of their expertise skills–primarily based studying, mentioned Brady Colby, founding father of 32EDU, an information platform targeted on on-line larger training and digital studying providers.

“We’ve seen a lot of uptake on boot camps just in their acceptance, specifically in the programming fields, and it’s starting to branch out into other fields,” Colby mentioned. “Universities are starting to really pay attention to that. It’s a new credential that’s really gaining traction in the industry.”

Morgan famous that as a result of most individuals who enroll in conventional boot camps have already got an undergraduate diploma, many spend a further $15,000 or extra to realize new skills. Podium is supposed to fight that mannequin, Morgan mentioned, by permitting college students from any main to be taught in-demand tech skills.

“All this extra opportunity cost shouldn’t exist,” Morgan mentioned. “Can we actually just take that and put it into the undergraduate system so that students, instead of being reskilled, they’re just skilled in the first place before graduating?”

Each of Podium’s semester-long programs is value six credit and meets weekly on-line. The firm to this point has partnered with greater than 30 institutions, huge and small, private and non-private. In addition to Arizona State, they embody the University of South Florida, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania and John Carroll University.

All three tracks embody an intercultural competency and management skills part, by which college students expertise the intercultural coaching utilized by the UN and discover ways to talk and collaborate with numerous friends. At the University of South Florida, the Podium program serves because the establishment’s international digital internship, and college students get internship credit score for finishing the programs.

Students on the digital advertising and marketing observe discover ways to launch and market merchandise internationally utilizing Shopify, Instagram and Google Ads. The Intro to Coding observe teaches college students to construct web sites and purposes utilizing HTML, CSS and JavaScript. And the info analytics observe lets college students make data-driven choices with Excel and Tableau.

Brooks mentioned the programs additionally function résumé workshops the place college students can be taught to articulate their new skills. And when college students full the programs, they earn badges to show on their LinkedIn pages that reveal what they know. Brooks famous that all through the course, college students create web sites and different tangible merchandise they will present to potential employers.

Jennifer Malerich, assistant vice provost of educational and international engagement at Arizona State, mentioned discovering programs that have been each hands-on and on-line was an essential consider ASU’s resolution to companion with Podium.

“We’re giving [students] a real-life experience, and a way that they’re able to get their hands on real work and have an engaging, live learning experience during this time where that’s been challenging for a lot of people,” mentioned Malerich.

Podium works alongside Arizona State’s digital internship program, which is operated by CAPA, a examine overseas program supplier that gives digital internships in international cities—together with Barcelona, London and Sydney—as an alternative choice to bodily finding out there. Students at Arizona State can use their normal elective, engineering elective or enterprise elective to signal on to the course.

Rost mentioned the mixture of Podium’s international tech program and the worldwide digital internships permits any pupil to get a study-abroad expertise by way of intercultural studying.

“These are wonderful learning opportunities for students who maybe are unable to travel even without a pandemic,” Rost mentioned. “Study abroad comes at a cost. ASU has a very diverse student population, and we have a lot of nontraditional students … many of whom are working full-time or they have families, and the ability to participate in a regular study abroad program just isn’t possible for them.”

At South Florida, Amanda Maurer, director of training overseas, mentioned sometimes solely 10 % of scholars go overseas, however Podium’s international program permits many extra college students to entry the expertise.

“Any student, any level, any major can benefit from this experience,” Maurer mentioned. “And to me, that’s really, really important. We had students who were freshmen, students who had already graduated, students from tons of different majors who participated in this program.”

Both Arizona State and South Florida have seen the advantages for college students who enroll in Podium’s applications.

“It’s been wildly successful,” mentioned Rost, citing the worldwide tech applications and the worldwide digital internships as notably rewarding for college students. “Those two programs combined have enrolled over 1,000 students since the pandemic.”

Kiki Caruson, assistant vice chairman for analysis, innovation and international affairs at South Florida, mentioned the worldwide tech program has reached an exceptionally numerous cohort of scholars.

“The demographics of the students who participated in this particular program were so different from the traditional demographic of a physical study-abroad program,” Caruson mentioned. “I was blown away by the students who chose to be in the Podium program.”

Rita Cidre, vice chairman and international digital advertising and marketing professor at Podium, creates course content material for college students and mentioned an enormous a part of her job is growing a curriculum that offers college students tangible skills.

“When a student that has had no previous knowledge of web development, digital marketing and data analytics succeeds after taking one of our courses, I think it’s an emotional thing for that student,” Cidre mentioned. “For me as the professor, it’s also very emotional, because I get to see the evolution of a person go from potential fear of not being able to understand these concepts to mastery in a very short period of time.”

The Changing Face of Boot Camps

Podium’s mannequin of partnering and dealing alongside institutions is a comparatively new sort of boot camp, mentioned Sean Gallagher, government director of the Center for the Future of Higher Education and Talent Strategy at Northeastern University. When boot camps first exploded in 2015, Gallagher mentioned, they sometimes operated individually from institutions, however now they’re extra more likely to work in tandem.

Chris Parrish, president of college partnerships at Podium, mentioned institutions are drawn to Podium due to the income enhance they see by way of further enrollment. Podium additionally works with institutions to focus on potential college students, promoting methods they will purchase tech skills with out being a STEM main. At the identical time, institutions don’t must make any funding of their very own, Parrish mentioned. Many aren’t aware of constructing programs the way in which Podium does; the pc science programs, as an example, are designed for everybody—that means no conditions or math requirement.

“We want students from all majors, all backgrounds, all levels, and we teach them sort of the applied pieces of things that they really need and want for that career journey,” Parrish mentioned.

Not everybody sees the event as unequivocally optimistic. Gallagher famous that boot-camp applications like Podium’s elevate questions concerning the core competencies of schools and whether or not they’re giving college students the fitting skills to land a job.

“I think these partnerships are great, but you can also question why a university might work with a third-party provider when universities are already in the business of designing a curriculum, recruiting students and hiring instructors,” Gallagher mentioned.

Scott Greenberg, affiliate vice chairman of educational affairs at Framingham State University, famous in 2018 that when institutions reply to pupil wants with shorter-term credentials—together with boot camps—they need to be clear about what they characterize and the way they differ from levels.

“Students who have not completed an undergraduate degree should be advised about the pros and cons of seeking alternative credentials,” Greenberg wrote. “In the long run, spending their time, energy and financial resources on a college degree may be a better strategy, especially if the alternative credential cannot be used toward academic credits.”

At Trilogy Education Services, one other boot camp that gives noncredit expertise coaching applications, some college students reported feeling “blindsided” after they realized that their boot camp was run by Trilogy and never the host college. Other critics have mentioned the shut relationship between boot camps and universities might be deceptive to college students.

Additionally, Gallagher famous the implementation of boot camps like Podium may presumably upset college, however he acknowledged that outdoors partnerships in curricular improvement have change into extra accepted in recent times. Gallagher additionally mentioned some institutions might not have the sources to create choices for various expertise and programming programs. Institutions may also be drawn to boot-camp applications as a result of they’re looking for staff from sought-after fields who’ve in-demand skills, particularly in expertise, however they may not have the sources to rent them, he mentioned.

“I think this activity really is about the pace of change in the job market, and in relation to some of these specific programming languages and digital skills,” Gallagher mentioned. “And it’s hard for many universities to keep up.”

As a bigger development, Gallagher mentioned, the programs and digital skills Podium provides overlap with what totally different publishers, service corporations and expertise corporations are already providing.

“Just because it’s boot camp, it can’t be divorced from the broader trend of augmenting a traditional undergraduate curriculum or degree,” Gallagher mentioned. “The college motivation is we want our undergraduates to have additional skills that maybe aren’t a part of what they’re already getting as part of our degree.”