Starting in the 2015-2016 school year, Salt Lake City, Utah-based Knod will offer a bachelor’s degree in general business or business management and leadership for under $13,000, in partnership with New Charter University. Knod also announced $3.5 million in funding from Epic Ventures, Impact Investment Leaders, and undisclosed investors. This brings Knod’s total amount raised to $6.2 million.
Knod works in partnership with universities to offer a part-online, part-in-person education focused on project-based learning and workforce skills. Since 2014, 38 Kenyan students have graduated from Knod’s first joint program, hosted with a university in Malaysia.
By providing an online curriculum centered around real projects for real companies, Knod hopes to help students develop marketable skills while in school. “It's a solution to the education-to-employment gap,” CEO Graham Doxey tells EdSurge. “We can provide really good learning outcomes for students stepping into jobs that otherwise would require a few years of experience.”
In 2003, Doxey founded Neumont University, which aims to close the gap between computer science learned in college and the skills wanted by employers. “I saw how many small tech companies had trouble hiring entry-level talent,” he explains. “We looked at the employer as a primary customer: If learning outcomes aren’t relevant to the employer, the gap [between academic knowledge and job skills] won’t close.” After success at Neumont University—according to Doxey, 100% of the first graduating class had found jobs before graduation—he decided to extend the mission to other learners and “make education accessible to the global middle class, not just traditional higher education students.”
While Doxey recognizes some similarities between Knod and The Minerva Project, an online university which focuses on developing critical thinking skills, he sees Knod as more focused on helping students develop job skills. “Here at Knod, we bring together the institutions who grant the degree and the employers who drive the standards for learning outcomes,” he explains. “You’re acquiring not just a degree, but the skills to be a contributor in your community.”
Since launching its first U.S. program in partnership with New Charter University in July, Knod is now in discussions with the University of Darby in England and several schools in Spain and Latin America about future partnerships.