There is an interesting article at Forbes.com about Neumont University, a for-profit school in Utah, aiming to fill the need for well trained computer professionals. The school is anything but traditional with classes from 8 to 5, year round and a very hands on learning approach. The idea that Neumont is based on is that there will be a need for 135,000 new computer professionals each year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics but only 49,000 computer science graduates.
Physically and philosophically, there’s no confusing Neumont with a traditional university. It is housed in a glass-and-steel reflective office building. Students live in nearby apartments–no campus quad, football games, frat houses or keg parties.
Doxey aims foremost to please employers–not students, not parents and certainly not the educational establishment. Produce what business needs, he figures, and graduates will win good jobs, which will in turn attract more paying students.
But some in the educational establishment are still skeptical of Neumont’s rush-through, hands-on approach. “What you learn in technology is gone in five years, so you need to learn the principles,” says Pradeep Khosla, dean of the engineering school at Carnegie Mellon. Khosla says students need to know how semiconductor chips and operating systems are built, not merely how to program them.
But Halpin, the professor who came from Microsoft, finds Neumont’s mix of theory and practice just right. “I have five degrees. I use some of the theory and 5% of the math,” he says. “There are clearly areas where we could go deeper, but you’ve got to ask yourself: Will they use it?” He notes that he is now overseeing students who are creating software that can query multiple databases using logical algorithms, a fairly sophisticated project. President Doxey points to research from the nonprofit NTL Institute in Alexandria, Va.; it estimates that learning retention rates for those working in groups can range from 75% to 90% versus just 5% for students zoning out in lectures.
Read the whole article here.