This week, AT&T and Udacity, the online education company founded by the Stanford professor and former Google engineering whiz Sebastian Thrun, announced something meant to be very small: the “NanoDegree.”
At first blush, it doesn’t appear like much. For $200 a month, it is intended to teach anyone with a mastery of high school math the kind of basic programming skills needed to qualify for an entry-level position at AT&T as a data analyst, iOS applications designer or the like.
Yet this most basic of efforts may offer more than simply adding an online twist to vocational training. It may finally offer a reasonable shot at harnessing the web to provide effective schooling to the many young Americans for whom college has become a distant, unaffordable dream.
In my mind, and from the vantage point of a mom who’s pretty immersed these days in college “stuff”, the concept of the NanoDegree makes sense. Not every student is cut out for college. Many would benefit from time in the workforce before or in lieu of four years of university. Many aren’t interested in the “extras” that come with a liberal arts degree and simply want to get busy working. Many, frankly, can’t afford the price tag and don’t want to subject themselves to paying off student loan debt for years.
During our conversation, Matt and I turned to how Catholics might better equip ourselves for the New Evangelization by taking advantage of distance learning opportunities. We agreed that perhaps we could all benefit from some sharpening of our skills, knowledge and abilities. I’m intrigued by the idea of better forming both my technological capabilities and my theological knowledge. To that end, I thought I’d take a look at some of the uniquely Catholic distance learning options out there. I’m going to begin with a very short list and would ask you to share your suggestions in the combox. I’m defining “distance learning” here not solely as degrees from Universities, but really any type of codified online training opportunity uniquely aimed at equipping Catholics or those interested in Catholicism.
- Catholic Distance University
- Franciscan University’s Distance Learning Program
- Satellite Theological Education Program at the University of Notre Dame
- Catholic Distance Learning Network – Seminary Department of the National Catholic Educational Association
- Catholic Theological Union
- Augustine Institute
- Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation
- Catholic Information Service
- “Active Parishioner” List of Distance Learning Programs
Additional Distance Learning:
A question for you: Are you interested in the idea of Distance Learning? What would you study if you had the time and financial resources?