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When movie stars are your teachers

Janet Nguyen Apr 26, 2016

A lot is going on in the educational space. Here are some need-to-know numbers about the learning realm.

You can now learn how to sing from Christina Aguilera, act from Kevin Spacey, play tennis from Serena Williams, write from James Patterson, perform from Usher and photograph from Annie Leibovitz. Celebrities are your instructors in a series of online courses from the learning startup MasterClass, reported Ashley Milne-Tyte for Marketplace. An appealing gimmick from the company, which recently secured $15 million in funding. But, like in academia, getting critical praise doesn’t necessarily make for a good instructor. “I don’t think it’s going to take very long for people to realize that just because someone is expert in something, doesn’t mean they’ll be an effective teacher of that thing,” said David Wiley of Lumen Learning, an education software startup.

The U.S. government is striving to help community colleges with their teaching initiatives. That’s why it’s launching a $100 million competition. The White House will provide grants to community colleges that work with “employers to offer skills-specific education…for free to unemployed, underemployed, or low-income workers,” reported Quartz. The announcement follows the president’s ambitious pledge last year to provide those in the U.S. with a free community college education.

Teaching life skills is the aim of Baltimore’s “Turnaround Tuesday” program, which helps ex-offenders find jobs. The program helps them with their resumes, interviewing skills, and workplace decorum, reported Marketplace’s Amy Scott. But Turnaround Tuesday isn’t just trying to help the city’s residents through practical means. Its aim is larger — an attempt to change the area’s hiring culture by convincing employers to give “returning citizens” a second chance. The Baltimore program has helped more than 100 people get jobs since it started two years ago.

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