New University Opened in California. But Where Are All the Teachers?

There’s a new colloquialism to hit the pop culture – ‘Calieducation’. The thing is, there’s a new university created in California. It’s called simply 42. The name was taken from the The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, giving an answer to the meaning of life. And if you are still asking "Are children smarter or more socialized because of the internet?", this information can confirm that they certainly are!

Frist originating in France, the US branch of the college aims to teach nearly a thousand students a year the whimsical arts of coding and software development, having academicians helping each other with projects and then evaluating those works accordingly.

So, does this whole gig stand as blind leading the blind? Well, it might, but the number of annual applications received since 42 opened its door in France for the first time in 2013, young minds are genuinely e interested in such opportunity. Mainly, because there’re no parents meetings scheduled and…

No tuition fees

Having its most recent graduates employed at such technological giants as IBM, Amazon and Tesla, studying at 42 is free, so is accommodation for students. Founded and sponsored by IT billionaire Xavier Niel, the university requires applicants and students to be free from any tuition fees.

What Mr. Niel and his co-founders pursue is doing to IT education what Facebook did to online communication and Airbnb to accommodation. 42 offers a profound form of peer-to-peer and project-based learning, with students accomplishing real-life projects using resources available freely on the web. A student can be assigned to design a web-site or build a simple computer game for a change. Apart from the internet, students can ask help from fellow 42’s and finalize a project side-by-side. After that, a random student will be asked to mark the work done.

Each successfully accomplished project brings a student responsible one level up. After reaching the level 21, which usually takes up to three years, a student gets a certificate. But no formal degree is received.

However, just like MOOC (massive open online courses) and coding academies popular in the US to date, 42 is another alternative to conventional education, letting thousands of students take online courses and learn a subject for a token free or none at all. 

Making up for shortcomings of traditional education

Today students became passive recipients of mainly theoretical knowledge, attending classes day in day out, writing tons of essays and passing exams every term or so. Xavier Niel and 42 co-founders obviously don’t like such an outdated approach. Instead, they offer an extreme form of peer-to-peer learning, designed to make students find creative, non-standard solutions to problems, as well as be more prepared to real-life projects than ‘traditional’ graduates coming from modern-day education vacuum.

Instead of seeking supervisor’s help, a 42 graduate will most likely go search information on the internet and cope with a set task with his own hands. At least this is the feedback received from employers having experience dealing with 42’s students.             

Soft skills for IT people

Word of mouth usually goes that programmers are far from being friendly, open-minded and extrovert folks. Since 42 deals with IT education, peer-to-pear learning paradigm helps introvert-minded, timid and demure coders learn to work in a team and finalize projects together.

Plus, it’s believed peer-to-peer approach spurs a deeper understanding of a subject. Professor Phil Race, Education expert also confirms that mastering a difficult concept or a challenging topic is better done with a person who has recently learned the material himself.

Professor Dan Butin, founding dean of the school of education and social policy at Merrimack College in Massachusetts goes even further saying that peer and project-based learning is way more effective tool than lectures and seminars that have down-to-none challenging value to students. 

Calieducation rules

Given great popularity of programming online courses in the United States, 42 is destined for success. Since it’s free, thousands of applicants are expected to apply annually to then claim a vacant position at many of the Silicone Valley headquarters. But is it possible to apply 42 teaching approach to other educational spheres rather than IT? Only time will show, as steps in this direction haven’t been made yet.