During the development of next acropolis I continue to remind myself that our system will be very niche. Right now we are focused entirely on the movement of talented university students from the academic world to the public world, and getting them absorbed into the economy based on their talents. That’s it.
Well, there’s quite a bit to that niche. First of all, you’ve got to make a way for students to optimize their education. Relationships with peers in their discipline, outside their discipline, relationships with professors, and the perfection of those all-import papers. And you’ve got to help them with the organizational work associated with passing courses. I recently attended a meeting with my development staff, and they showed me the calendar students will get. The calendar will be so good, that the students can plan their whole day around Next Acropolis, and use it to stage their success during their degree. Making a successful 4 years or more of degree work is a priority within that bigger goal.
The next area is enabling professors to reach out, in a Web 2.0 world, and envelop students into their course as a daily part of their lifestyle. This component of The Next Acropolis is built for the kind of teachers I had in college and grad school — people whose courses really crept into your lives, and changed you as a person. As a college educator myself, this is precisely what makes teaching so interesting. A big goal for Next is to provide professors with a wide set of tools to help pull students into their missions, as teachers. A big part of college teaching is building a culture that supports student success, and the cultivation of a group of students who will fulfill that degree. So making a social network that supports students on a day-to-day basis is also a part of Next.
But the job isn’t quite done, even after you’ve made a cozy environment for students and professors. The folks who make the system work are the recruiters outside academia. These are the people who assemble companies, one individual at a time, by locating the right person for the job, designed to make the company move forward. Ultimately, it’s the recruiter’s goal to make that organization competitive.
What we do at the Next Acropolis is to focus on making the information needed by recruiters highly available. Because the faster the recruiters achieve insight into a candidate, the faster they can place them, and move that organization into ‘go mode.’ I myself contend with this very issue as I operate as a CEO, hiring engineers, designers, attorneys and accounting pros. And I encounter the student side of the predicament when I teach courses in software engineering. Students typically create strong research that is invisible to employers. When employers ask for more than a transcript to certify their preparation for hire, it becomes critical to supply more evidence. For graduate students, having the ability to present their research to employers changes the game entirely, as they prepare painstakingly for inclusion in their chosen industries.
In the space between school and industry, much of the information employers really want is missing. Meanwhile, the efficiency of the organization rests on its talent, as located by management. We are about bridging that gap. This is our niche.