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Steve Wozniak announces tech education platform Woz U (techcrunch.com)
578 points by _nh_ on Oct 13, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 114 comments



Although it would be unfortunate if this was the case, this paragraph from the about page (https://woz-u.com/about/) leads me to think that this is just using Steve Wozniak's name for branding:

Inspired by Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computer, we specialize in technology and career-based programs designed to get people into the workforce quickly and affordably...Led by higher education experts, Exeter Education, students will learn the skills necessary to take flight within the technology industry.

It looks like Woz U is affiliated with Exeter Education and Southern Careers Institute. Exeter Education appears to be a new company in Arizona (more info at http://www.azcentral.com/story/money/business/tech/2017/10/1... and https://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/news/2017/04/14/former-g...).

Southern Careers Institute (http://www.scitexas.edu/) seems to be a vocational school of sorts. Neither of these are bad things, but they temper the initial excitement I had around "Steve Wozniak is launching an online education platform."


Woz likes teaching I'd be surprised he sold his name for nothing else but money.


"Woz likes teaching I'd be surprised he sold his name for nothing else but money."

I feel the same way. This is part of what he had to say in a comment [1] he wrote in 2013, discussing the then-released Jobs film. It absolutely speaks volumes about his character:

"And when Jobs (in the movie, but really a board does this) denied stock to the early garage team (some not even shown) I'm surprised that they chose not to show me giving about $10M of my own stock to them because it was the right thing. And $10M was a lot in that time."

I was unable to link to his comment directly. Also, I had to click the "View previous comments" link in order to view his comment.

[1] https://plus.google.com/+CarmsPerez/posts/GnVTvQNgvpf


The issue isn't money, it's his idealism that leads to gullibility. For example, check out his involvement with a multi-level marketing scheme called "People Helping People". I'm sure Woz loves the idea of a low cost universal education source, but he often skips the diligence required to figure out if these things are scams or not.


More than a naive lack of check, what I meant is that Woz clearly explained he loved teaching the beauty of engineering, so I'd expect he would be part of the board and teachers.


"often skips" implies a multiple occurrence. Do you have more examples of this?


Thanks for that link, I hadn't seen this before. Very insightful to read the words of Woz on this; inspires such great respect.


I don't know much about Woz, but I do know he lives in the Bay Area and this company is headquartered in Arizona. I hope it goes well!


Uhh; read this from the article: "And if that weren’t enough, Woz U will eventually introduce an accelerator program" - there is clearly a very heavy money dimension to this!


Right, but GP said "just for money"; they're saying they expect that he would be unlikely to solely take money for the branding and not be involved in some further capacity.


He sold his image to vodafone in spain, so, he could be having economic problems or just making an u-turn and selling himself to whoever is able to pay for it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3FL4cwcFmgY


he also seems to be doing a lot of speaking gigs around the world lately.


Maybe Woz gave up on humanity and decided to cash in instead.


I can't imagine a guy like The Woz allowing his name to be associated with something sub-par which he has no control over. He understands the importance and weight of his personal brand.


He has a big heart. A few years ago Steve gave an interview with Patrick Bet-David, which was simply a marketing piece for Patrick's company, PHP Agency. PHP Agency is a financial firm founded on the power of "network marketing". The idea behind network marketing is to turn your social network into pyramid, positioning yourself at the top of the pyramid. I don't like network marketing companies, and I believe they are all sub-par. In this interview, which you can find on YouTube, Steve Wozniak described PHP Agency as a hit.


> The idea behind network marketing is to turn your social network into pyramid, positioning yourself at the top of the pyramid.

Isn't this the idea behind Patreon?


Patronage [1] is the idea behind Patreon.

Viewed as a pyramid it's one that goes only one level deep and markets only yourself as a worthy cause to support ;-)

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patronage


He's an idealist and "too good" of a person and believes in people too readily to be a cutthroat business guy. I can see a situation where he'd be talked into a situation you describe, because he doesn't have a personality that first questions others' motives and agendas.


It's odd we've allowed our society to accept cut-throat business as the norm.


So Woz’ strengths are marketing etc.? Always seemed that was precisely the part he didn’t play too well.


Can't announce it without taking a bit of a leap of faith, because there can't be a track record before announcement. Intentions are easy, execution is hard. Few bad schools started off with "bad" as a founding principle.


Trump University


There is a pretty long history of The Woz being taken advantage of, starting prior to Apple when his best friend ripped him off.


After reading his autobiography, iWoz, Wozniak has a real passion for education. He especially has a passion for K-12. I believe he is genuine in his desire to improve tech and STEM education.



Neither of those links provide any insight on his actual involvement. They say roughly the same thing; 1) Wozniak announced today, and 2) Woz U is named after Wozniak. No mention of any substantial involvement.


If you read the article in your azcentral link, you'll see that Woz did announce Woz U himself.


As johnwacho said, that doesn't indicate actual involvement.


If his name is being used he obviously wants it to do well because he has some insentive in it. he wouldn’t use his name and want it to fail.


You should study the person you're commenting on a bit beforehand. It is perfectly possible for Steve to want them to do well even if he does not have any incentive.


You make it sound like Steve doesn’t care about himself at all.


I'd credit your interpretation rather than what I make it sound like.


Agree, don't give this clown any of your information. This "startup" will do absolutely nothing and appears to simply be a marketing gimmick.


Woz U seems to be (at least in part) a rebranding of SCI/Coder Camps.

From the footer at https://woz-u.com/: "Part of SCI"

From http://www.scitexas.edu/programs/full-stack-javascript/: "SCI-tech Academy’s 3-week Coding From Scratch course provides free prerequisite training in coding basics, including HTML, CSS, and JavaScript basics for those who have little to no coding experience."

From https://www.codercamps.com/coding-from-scratch/: "New to software? Start with Coding From Scratch Courses"

From https://woz-u.com/curriculum-software-development/: "SWD100 | Coding From Scratch"

(Full disclosure: my company is a competitor to Coder Camps.)


I just love how the HN community says "huh, yeah let me verify that" and basically pulls the wool off the eyes...

So, fuck you, you beautiful tech community and I love you, you horrific tech community..

This is literally what democratization of actual information looks like.


What would be the problem of this? Are there any issues with Coder Camps?


Honestly this seems very "meh." Like others have said, I am getting the vibe that Steve (or some other company) is using the name to attract attention to a very unremarkable product.

> Woz U will offer an app to help people understand which field of tech they’re best suited for, so they can set up their curriculum accordingly.

If you follow that link, you can see a very (very) poorly-designed application that is built by a company called Coder for Rent, LLC. This doesn't really invoke a sense of confidence for me - sounds like someone with an idea just reached out to the first app development team they could find. However, looking into this company, they have a website: https://www.coderforrent.com.

Following that link will redirect you to the organization I am guessing is teaming up with Woz for this: Coder Camps, with offices in Redmond and Scottsdale. Steve Wozniak is not listed anywhere on the "Team" page on Coder Camps' website, so this has to be some kind of business partnership. I believe that even more after seeing the page for the Woz U application in the App Store: the first 'screenshot' is his image covering the screen. Below his face is one of his quotes: "Wherever smart people work, doors are unlocked."

I get the vibe that I am supposed to think all of the smart people will be using Woz U because "Steve co-founded Apple!"

Anyway...back to work.


That's exactly what's happening here [1]. John Sculley stays in the press in the same way. In fact he got another hit just today [2].

[1] https://www.techinasia.com/talk/steve-wozniak-walking-billbo...

[2] http://www.businessinsider.com/steve-jobs-best-recruiter-app...


I had a quick chat with someone involved to ask about the relationship. They said WozU and CoderCamps are both owned by the same parent company.


Fair criticism. It's quite possible that Woz considers this a MVP and not the pinnacle of MOOC platforms.

Its also possible that Woz isn't going to be part of the regular faculty, as great as that would be.

IMHO the course structure and content, is more important than the platform code details.


I agree with the last point 100%. It seems that this Coder Camps company has experience running different programs in full stack development and data science, so I imagine they know what they're doing.


It does look more like a vocational boot camp. There are two tracks mentioned on the website: "Software Developer", basically a full stack web developer, and "Computer Support Specialist". Not exactly computer science.


Some people dont know Woz spent some years as an elementary school math teacher after leaving his full time Apple job. So he as insight as a teacher.


While I'm sure Woz would make a fantastic teacher, I don't think experience teaching kids elementary math would really give anyone insight into teaching CS/data science topics.


Why not? How is teaching kids math different from teaching older kids CS and data science? I am curious, not trolling.


As someone who’s taught Algebra to 7th grade kids using functional programming concepts building their own game, I agree, there’s significant overlap. The course plan I used is available[0] if interested.

[0] http://bootstrapworld.org


You can't teach children proper mathematics. That's what's different. Children are not in general ready for math before 8'th or 9'th grade. That's why they are just pestered with arithmetic until the majority becomes numberfobes. And then have difficulties with real mathematics later.


I have not seen that data point before, children not being ready for math until 8/9 grade. Where did you learn that/see that?


I'm a mathematician. I have taught mathematics, albeit briefly, at the university level.

I disagree with the person you responded to, but want to thread this here.

Mathematics can be taught at early ages. Unfortunately, we tend to teach mathematics by rote. We teach arithmetic and not mathematics.

What we could be doing is teaching mathematics as a language. Mathematics is a language, it's an expressive language that relies on logic. Like any language, it is unconstained by reality and can be used to express concepts and ideals. In conjunction with other languages, it can express complexities and trivialities.

Unfortunately, we never seem to teach kids why, but simply teach them the method. We teach them a process, by rote and enforcement. We don't encourage discovery, nor do we try to explain the totality. In part, I believe, this is due to many who give instruction not actually having the knowledge to do so.

Tempting as this is to turn this into a novella, I'll try for brevity. It is true that mathematics isn't an easy subject, but a part of that difficulty comes from the way in which we teach it.


> Unfortunately, we tend to teach mathematics by rote

This is one of the reasons I never felt it valuable to memorise times-tables (literally chanting them in classes). IMO, it's much more useful, and generalises better, to be comfortable taking, say, 9x8 and saying "OK, it's 10x8 - 8 = 72" (instead of just memorising 9x8=72).

It may be a fraction faster, but being comfortable in those manipulations still helps when tackling something more complex (e.g. 99x89) whereas mere memorisation doesn't.


Thank you for this insight. I completely agree. I never liked 'maths' as a child. When I got to the university we had one class with a great professor who really used maths as a language like you describe, suddenly it all starts to make sense. I think I have been ruined though and have too many wrong patterns in my head.

Now I am wondering what resources can I use at home to teach my daughter (and future) kids about math as a language more than as a chore? Do you know of any good books or other resources meant for kids and parents?


I've seen similar statements before, and it is a major point in Lockhart's Lament. I wonder if only people who are both good mathematicians and good teachers can pull off teaching mathematics as a language.


Are Problems where you use the Theory enough? How many? All uses or just some?

If not Problems, maybe modify the Theory a little and show which Problems are unsolvable now?

Are those two in the Why included? What else do you think should be included?

Regards.


I am not sure I understand your questions. So, I will try to answer them. If you feel my answers aren't adequate, feel free to ask more detailed questions.

No, problems where someone uses a theory isn't enough. They should understand why they use it and know what alternatives exist. They should be able to process this linguistically.

Basically, "The problem is this and I want to solve this problem this way, because this way gives me the resulting information needed."

They should know as much as they can, it should be progressive and taught like we teach languages. Mathematics isn't just a language for solving problems, it can express problems just as easily.

Absolutely, people should be encouraged to try different things. Much like we are encouraged to write an essay, we should encourage people to compose a story with mathematics and it's very much okay to mix it with a second language. Physics is such a thing. In physics, you use both mathematics and your language to expresss and prove. Without both math and a traditional language, some concepts aren't able to be expressed. This is why published papers contain both text and math.

I am not sure about your 'why.' The why is to enable more people to understand the language of mathematics and to enable them to use it to their advantage.

I think that it can be done by increasing exposure and teaching it with greater complexity. It's fine to memorize addition and subtraction tables, but understanding the concepts behind those things is more important.

To be fair, for a short while, we do sort of teach it as a language. This fades out and becomes rote. In early education, we will teach with an abacus and countable objects. We will teach the less than and greater than as a fish that eats the bigger number. Eventually, that stops and concepts aren't considered while memorizing rules is.

I will share a brief story...

I hated mathematics. I absolutely hated it. I didn't understand it. I just did what I was told and gave the answers because I followed instructions.

When I was in sevent grade, I was working on problems which required me to return the area of right triangles. My teacher had stood behind me for some time, I'm not sure how long, before they spoke up.

I remember exactly what they said, to this very day. "You know, all you have to do is square those triangles, find the area, and divide that number in half."

That one instant, my life was permanently altered. At that moment in time, it all clicked. It wasn't easy from there on out. It wasn't a magic moment where I understood everything.

No, it was the moment that I understood that it was a language and that there were many ways to say the same thing. It was that moment when I actually understood that the symbols where actually telling a story. It was that moment when I realized that it was expressing an idea, a concept, and that it was descriptive.

I still stay in touch with that teacher, though they are old and frail. Had it not been for them, my life would be very different. Had it not been for them, for that moment in time, for that effort to make clear, I'd be a very different person.

Most of us can probably have that moment, but little instruction is given that allows for it. We aren't given the chance to see math as a language that is as rich as it is. If we want people to excel at math, we need to find a way to give them that moment.



", I don't think experience teaching kids elementary math would really give anyone insight into teaching CS/data science topics."

?

I couldn't imagine any better or more relevant experience than that.

Teaching in the real-world probably gives you quite a lot of insight into the nature of learning. Math is pretty close to CS, of course, CS is a 'branch' of Math!


there's a huge difference between developing and teaching curriculum for elementary school math, and developing and presenting curriculum for an online education system that extends beyond elementary school age and elementary school math.


Man I wish he was my math teacher, I probably would of been much more engaged back then.


> I probably would of

Your english teacher wasn't very engaging either, I guess?


Wozniak has been a rampant self-promoter for years so this isn't a surprise to me at all. He'll put his name on anything.

https://www.techinasia.com/talk/steve-wozniak-walking-billbo...


Given the nature of the Internet (mostly everything is public and you can focus to whatever part of someone's online activity you want), everybody can seem like a rampant self-promoter these days.


The article seems harsh. Maybe he just likes toys.



Hard to see this without thinking about Steve Wozniak University.

https://www.folklore.org/StoryView.py?story=Steve_Wozniak_Un...


Folklore.org is such a great site, almost every story is a gem. Just clicking on the next left me with a smile on my face.


If getting "complete" software engineering training today amounts to learning a popular JS framework, HTML, and CSS...we're in big trouble. Any company exploiting this dogma and convincing folks who don't know any better to pay tens of thousands of dollars and leave their job for 3-5 months should be ashamed of themselves. I'm not, for the record, against people learning any of these things. But for those who bought into the idea that it's enough to make them competitive in the job market today will get a rude awakening in the next couple years.


It's a shame that his 1981 plane crash robbed both Steve and the world of the full use of one of the greatest engineering minds that has ever lived.

A lot of people who know him personally - and I know of them personally, so it's second-hand corroboration to be clear - say he was never anywhere close to the same after the accident.


You shouldn't imply such things without being willing to share the source.

Also, changes in personality do not automatically mean changes in intellect.


You're weirdly inferring two things that I didn't come close to saying.

Again, while I don't know him personally, I hold in great regard people that do and am simply relaying what they've told me, which is that whatever the nature of the change happened, be it personality or intellect or interests or whatever, it set him on a different path and likely robbed all of us of whatever the fruits of his previous path would have borne.


You feel robbed by that?


It seems out of character for Steve to use his name like this.


I hope it means he really believes in it.


The product endorsement thing worked out pretty well for Mavis Beacon. ;)

http://www.nytimes.com/1998/12/31/technology/next-they-ll-sa...

''I remember, at Comdex in 1987, walking around and having some of the competitors from two of the original typing products come up to me and say: ''What a coup! How did you get Mavis Beacon to endorse your product? We've been after her endorsement for years.' '' Mr. Abrams chuckled. ''And when they did that, I knew we had a hit.''


As mentioned by peter303 above, Steve Wozniak is an experienced elementary school teacher.


I'm not sure that means he is or isn't selling his name.


I checked Woz's twitter feed to see if he mentioned this at all (which he didn't) and noticed that he gives accurate location updates constantly. Even which hotel room he's in.

https://twitter.com/stevewoz


It's probably because he uses Swarm (which is basically rebranded Foursquare checkins) connected to his Twitter account.


Okay, there are a lot of comments here about various things but what struck out to me was that on the website it says Woz U will help students "get into the workforce quicker" but their curriculum doesn't really cover any CS. It covers things that help you build stuff using "hip" tools and languages, but not things like algorithms, data structures, etc.

My question is, is this really all it takes to get a job in a startup/tech company? Would YOU hire somebody who just knew these things?


Skipping theory (and liberal arts) is certainly going to get you prepared for an entry level programming job. It's not going to get you prepared for most interviews, though.

I like to think I'm a decent engineer; I have a BS in Computer Engineering, but I use very little from most of the classes I took to get that. Actually, my most in demand skills seem to be systems level debugging, which wasn't discussed in any courses; it's something I've learned on the job, because it was never in any of my courses. Some of the courses don't get used often, but it is nice to have seen topics, so if they come up, I know it's something that's been studied, and I just have to find it again. A straight-up occupational training in programming is going to leave you without a lot of that, unfortunately.


> Would YOU hire somebody who just knew these things?

For an intern / very junior position, yes. For anything else, no.


Most bootcamp grads go to big cos, especially outside of tech, and mostly not to startups.


No real mention here of what will differentiate this from existing "tech education platforms".


I mean at this point, it's hard to differentiate when you are launching a training school.

I think they are like completely banking up on the Woz name to get students and companies use their services.


We are only saying that b/c everyone is now doing the codecadmy/treehouse/codeschool style of training, with a slight twist.

I'd expect if a guy like Woz is jumping behind it, it should be INNOVATIVE. A new method of training that is better than what we have today. Similar to how code school/treehouse/codecademy were innovative 5 years ago.


Any thoughts on what that would look like? I'm very much a fan of bite sized lessons (think Duolingo style), but am curious to how well that would translate to other subjects.


I checked the curriculum and was so disappointed that it didn't start with 6502 assembly :/


Would be more appreciated if fortunate people like WOZ could do something good for non-code fields as well. There are already a lot of platforms which teach all of these. I respect WOZ for everything but I think there are more opportunities/problems in other fields of education as well. Am I missing something?


Nah, MOOCs hold a lot of promise for other areas of study, but they definitely are not totally there yet. They seem to be pretty good in 'soft' fields that don't have much hands-on applications, but still pretty terrible for things like electrical/mechanical engineering or embedded development.

Like, I'm interested in making things so that my code can interact with the real world, so I tried Coursera's embedded development class.

Holy hell. It was awful. Way worse than a lot of free youtube tutorials I've watched, and they were charging money. The course files flat-out did not work. The course VM with the cross-compilation toolchain and everything was incapable of booting; good thing those things are easy to install. The assignments told you to do different things from the grading criteria; I wound up erring on the super generous side with grading, especially since the lectures were often largely unrelated to the tasks. And there was no embedded platform involved at all, full stop. In a months-long course.

I learned much more in a week with Google and a $10 ST Nucleo board. That's where online education could still use a lot of work, IMO. The sort of thing that requires lab segments.

And to be fair to Coursera, that's a tough thing to get right. It would be nice if they actually verified that they were selling courses that functioned at all, and that soured me personally to their platform, but at least you can get a refund. They also have a power electronics class I was interested in, but there's no chance in hell I'd risk it now. I don't mind throwing a few hundred dollars and hours after education, but that stuff is potentially really dangerous and I don't want to risk getting it wrong because a lecture on transformer winding wasn't vetted...


I did the MITx Circuits and Electronics unit online and it was pretty good. The platform was a lot more advanced than Coursera's, including a little circuit designer tool with various probes and things.


Sounds a lot like the name of the Nintendo's gaming console.


Scott Galloway was saying Apple should take it's war chest and disrupt the educational system. Start an Apple University where the skills required for tomorrows jobs can be acquired.

Would be great if you could get Amazon, MS, Apple, facebook, etc on board to start the revolution in education.


You mean, like Facebook University? https://www.facebook.com/careers/university/fbu

Frankly, I have to say I'm skeptical. I don't see what makes them suitable or incentivized to create a real school, rather than a pipeline into their businesses.


That looks to be just an internship.


What would that even look like?


I'm really excited to see where this goes given I'm in the industry too! That said, I am skeptical of the background of this company and the quality of instruction/curriculum.

For anyone interested in K-12 coding education, I have been working on a project called BlockSchool. We connect students ages 6-13 with teachers from top colleges and companies via video chat. We have developed a fun 3D block-based world where everything is programmable.

We already have students in 4 countries! If you're interested in a free trial, email me at tony@block.school with Hacker News in the subject line :)


This is so much pressure on Woz to maintain his name that I am afraid he may never do anything again (if he reads HN).

He is just a (from the looks of it -- I don't know him) nice, thoughtful, successful person. But he is just a human being. He can't magically make an educational system that makes you study front-end frameworks anymore than the 1000s of other nice, thoughtful people can do that.

The learner still has to sit down and apply themselves and there is no magic around that.


He's a sellout. Slapping his name on random things does not a good product make.


Will My Trump University credits transfer to this one?


Most will. My credits on securing large credit reporting companies did not.


I'd like to see something like this for Physics cirricula.

As a software engineer, I've always felt my physics background is lacking. Can anyone recommend a decent physics learning platform that starts from QM first principles and then goes to more complex topics?


It isn't exactly a platform, but it sounds like you would be well served by The Theoretical Minimum [0]. The courses [1] start at classical mechanics, but the second one is QM and builds from there. They are all taught by Leonard Susskind, who is a fairly big name in the field.

There are two books available specifically tied to The Theoretical Minimum [2], but I'm not sure how they related or tie into the video lectures as I have not read them myself.

[0] http://theoreticalminimum.com

[1] http://theoreticalminimum.com/courses

[2] http://theoreticalminimum.com/references


Glad to see Woz working on this problem. He has such a legendary reputation in the tech world for his engineering skills but few know of his passion for education. I hope this ends up being a large part of his legacy.


Unfortunately, this education is no different(or better) than the education you can receive at any of dozens of colleges around the country that teach the exact same thing without the branding hype. Looking through the computer support curriculum, nothing is original or new. It's just the same old thing every other college teaches for the same course. No new spin or intuitive way to teach it.


If I didn't trust Woz, I'd say it reminds me too much of when Trump U happened.


I was surprised to read that Woz U will be based out of Arizona. That's pretty cool.


How so?


The real question is, do we call it "Wazoo" or "Waz you"?


Not to be confused with "Wazzu", or, Washington State University.

https://www.google.com/search?q=wazzu


Is he very selfish person or just a hero ?


I thought this was a great initiative by Woz, until I read the tech accelerator part; I'm worried about the focus on making money off of this.


It should be called "Woz up?"


U WOZ M8?


How will this not get pronounced "Wazoo"?

Though initial criticism of the name "iPad" died pretty quickly.


Should be named WoZu.




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