— Sean Suggs
Sean Suggs is a 36 year old single dad to two boys. He’s a self-taught web developer who has been working in the field for 10 years. He dropped out of the for-profit Art Institute, where he was seeking an associate’s degree in applied science, and took part in a class action suit against the college, alleging deceptive marketing and recruitment practices. Undaunted by this setback in the world of education and trying to improve his skills and marketability for jobs, Suggs did research online on current job trends in his area of web development. A site called Indeed.com, for example, tracks keywords in job listings, showing that tech recruiters are currently most excited about finding developers with HTML5 skills. While surfing on an industry blog called Mashable.com, Suggs heard about the P2PU/ Mozilla School of Webcraft. “For a while now I have been actively looking for web deve- lopment accreditation that was backed by a significant web development field-related organization. So when I had heard that the Mozilla foundation was promoting P2PU" “Web Craft” Courses I immediately attended,” he said. “Of course free is appealing--to be honest, should anyone really be paying for strong legitimate peer-based accreditation? In a twisted way, paying for it kinda cheapens it.” Suggs as a point. In the world of reputation-based networks, a freely given opinion can be worth more than a diploma that costs big bucks. It’s worth noting that Suggs is taking a gamble by participating in these Webcraft courses. He’s betting that Mozilla and other employers will accept and promote the “badges” he can receive for participating in P2PU courses. At the same time, he’s not relying only on the accreditation aspect of the classes. “I hope that close connections made with peers and the community already in my profession will increase the likelihood of successful future job searches.” But there are drawbacks to being a pioneer. Suggs and other participants report a lot of clunkiness with the various technologies that P2PU is piecing together to use for classes. Without a lot of money to invest in developing its own learning management system, P2PU classes use different combinations of a Drupal social learning platform, Skype, Google Groups, email, and other tools that don’t always work so well together. One of the biggest problems with this or any open learning organization is the level of commitment among the participants. As a highly enthusiastic, hard-core P2PU participant, Suggs is a little bit in the minority. “For some reason free courses have much higher dropout rates. I suppose drop-off is due to the lack of personal commitment that tuition imposes otherwise. Dropout also feels greater from students who have taken on a course that they thought would be at different skill levels.”
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