Steve Wozniak's 'Woz U' Institute Faces Blowback, Former Student Calls it a '$13,000 E-Book'

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
48,663
10,083



One year ago Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak backed a new online learning institute that is aimed at educating users in coding and other digital skills. Called "Woz U," the subscription-based platform is now facing blowback from participants who cite a lack of quality in the courses and experience offered.


CBS News spoke to one student, Bill Duerr, who said that he expected quality from the $13,200 program (which lasts 33 weeks), but faced ongoing issues. Duerr said the system was full of problems, like live lectures coming pre-recorded and out of date, unqualified mentors, frustrations with typos while coding, and sometimes completely missing instructors for certain courses.

Duerr compared Woz U to a "$13,000 e-book."
"I feel like this is a $13,000 e-book," Duerr said. While it was supposed to be a program written by one of the greatest tech minds of all time, "it's broken, it's not working in places, lots of times there's just hyperlinks to Microsoft documents, to Wikipedia," he said.

"When you're doing code and you're following along, and there's a typo, and you get an error, you don't have any idea why you got the error," Duerr said. "And you're like how can - did somebody not proofread this? Did somebody not make sure it worked?"
Besides Duerr, CBS News interviewed more than two dozen current and former Woz U students and employees, all referencing similar complaints. One employee was Tim Mionske, an "enrollment counselor" who sold Woz U to prospective students. Even when he began to have second thoughts about Woz U and its validity, the company was focused intently on driving as many sales as possible.

CBS News asked Mionske if he regrets his time with Woz U, and if he felt like he had to do something that wasn't right.
"I regret in the aspect to where they're spending this money for, it's like rolling the dice. ... But on the reverse side, I have to support my family."

"In this case, do you feel like you had to do something that wasn't right?" Dokoupil asked.

"At times I did," Mionske responded.
Wozniak responded to Business Insider in an email, claiming he had not seen the CBS News report and that he is "not involved in any operations aspects" of Woz U, and as such could not answer any questions. Woz U president Chris Coleman said in a statement that the company is aware of certain errors in course content and that it has implemented a quality control system to catch them. He denied students being pressured to enroll and claimed that Wozniak reviews all of Woz U's curriculum.

In Woz U's original announcement, the platform was billed as a way to get people into the workforce quickly and affordably. At launch and shortly after, programs trained users in computer support, software development, data science, mobile application development, and cybersecurity. Woz U is an online learning course with an app and website, but the institute said last year it plans to open physical campuses in more than 30 cities across the United States and around the world.

Article Link: Steve Wozniak's 'Woz U' Institute Faces Blowback, Former Student Calls it a '$13,000 E-Book'
 

GrumpyMom

macrumors G3
Sep 11, 2014
8,690
12,408
I’m surprised he doesn’t value his name enough to be aware of what is taking place under his name and reputation. Claiming he is not involved in any operations aspect is quite a brushoff. I would imagine he is not involved in operations but again, I just think it’s a matter of honor and integrity that if you’re going to take a monetary cut from something, especially if it bears your name, you will also take some personal responsibility to ensure it’s implemented correctly.
 

keysofanxiety

macrumors G3
Nov 23, 2011
9,537
25,262
CBS News asked Mionske if he regrets his time with Woz U, and if he felt like he had to do something that wasn't right.
Wozniak responded to Business Insider in an email, claiming he had not seen the CBS News report and that he is "not involved in any operations aspects" of Woz U, and as such could not answer any questions.
If I'm not misinterpreting this, it just means they have Woz's name on the course and he doesn't have anything to do with the content or teaching?

If that's the case and he just reaps the financial rewards, that's very disappointing to me.
 

adamjackson

macrumors 68000
Jul 9, 2008
1,748
2,701
It sounds like Steve Wozniak just took some cash to put his name and face on someone else's product that wasn't going to be successful without a celebrity linked to it. Unfortunately, when the program sucks, Woz's credibility is tarnished. Really a shame because he probably had very little to do with the actual execution of the program.
 

69Mustang

macrumors 604
Jan 7, 2014
7,326
13,683
In between a rock and a hard place
I’m surprised he doesn’t value his name enough to be aware of what is taking place under his name and reputation. Claiming he is not involved in any operations aspect is quite a brushoff. I would imagine he is not involved in operations but again, I just think it’s a matter of honor and integrity that if you’re going to take a monetary cut from something, especially if it bears your name, you will also take some personal responsibility to ensure it’s implemented correctly.
This presumes he has any authority to ensure anything. I highly doubt it. Name and likeness for X dollars is the typical scenario.
[doublepost=1538409053][/doublepost]
If Woz is claiming he has nothing to do with the operations of this "U". Why the heck is his name slapped on the front of it? Something fishy is going on and it's not Brisling sardines on crackers.
Nope, nothing fishy. Standard stuff. Name and likeness for cash is standard stuff.
 

thisisnotmyname

macrumors 68020
Oct 22, 2014
2,340
4,875
known but velocity indeterminate
This presumes he has any authority to ensure anything. I highly doubt it. Name and likeness for X dollars is the typical scenario.
[doublepost=1538409053][/doublepost]
Nope, nothing fishy. Standard stuff. Name and likeness for cash is standard stuff.
This is true. BUT if anyone ever wants to open "ThisIsNotMyName U" I'll also want editorial control over marketing and curriculum and, if I can't perform it personally either due to time constraints or overall volume of material, I'll have someone independent of the organization tasked to review it all. Big job but if anyone wants use of my name the licensing will be high enough to support that.

edit to add: I think why this is news is that it's Woz - a man who has stated he never lies and probably one of the few people on earth I think may actually mean it - and not some random for profit (not that they all aren't bringing in a large amount of money) educational institution. People expect more from Woz than endorsing some business he only has limited involvement in and with questionable quality control.
 

jayducharme

macrumors 68040
Jun 22, 2006
3,572
3,297
The thick of it
If I'm not misinterpreting this, it just means they have Woz's name on the course and he doesn't have anything to do with the content or teaching?
From the article above, it seems he has some involvement with the curriculum, but to what extent is unclear:

Woz U president Chris Coleman said in a statement that the company is aware of certain errors in course content and that it has implemented a quality control system to catch them. He denied students being pressured to enroll and claimed that Wozniak reviews all of Woz U's curriculum.
 
  • Like
Reactions: haruhiko

GrumpyMom

macrumors G3
Sep 11, 2014
8,690
12,408
This presumes he has any authority to ensure anything. I highly doubt it. Name and likeness for X dollars is the typical scenario.
[doublepost=1538409053][/doublepost]
Nope, nothing fishy. Standard stuff. Name and likeness for cash is standard stuff.
I’m sure that’s the case, since he sort of is saying that it is. I am just surprised Woz went for that, given that he wasn’t exactly silent on the subject of Steve Jobs’ lapses in honor or ethics.

Money is what it is. There’s no denying well all want plenty of it. The thing is, there are many ways for a man in his position to accumulate enough to live well.

But the good name and the fond regard of people that he earned when he was younger is priceless. I wouldn’t think he’d want to risk that legacy on something like this if he couldn’t ensure some power and vigilance over how it turned out.

But he’s become quite the odd duck over the years.
 

pweicks

macrumors regular
Dec 23, 2016
247
501
USA
“Duerr said the system was full of problems, like live lectures coming pre-recorded and out of date, unqualified mentors, frustrations with typos while coding, and sometimes completely missing instructors for certain courses.”

I’m pretty sure every university that I’ve ever attended has these same issues. I really hope we’re reaching the time where people start to smarten up and open their minds a little more. Our society has had it drilled into our heads that we’re gonna be failures if we don’t go to school. That’s so old fashioned. We have all the information in the world available to us in our pockets. Even just YouTube alone can teach you anything you want to know if you’re willing to put in the effort. Oh and I forgot to mention, it’s free! I think there are few systems in this world that are as corrupt as the college/university system in America, considering how much money people put into it and how little they get out of it. I hope that the collegiate system of America burns. That won’t happen until people realize how much they’re being ripped off though.
 
  • Like
Reactions: jbizzybeetle

69Mustang

macrumors 604
Jan 7, 2014
7,326
13,683
In between a rock and a hard place
Money is what it is. There’s no denying well all want plenty of it. The thing is, there are many ways for a man in his position to accumulate enough to live well.
Is there really though? Not to disparage but basically Woz has his name, likeness, and connection to Apple to use as a commodity. The further away we get from his actual Apple involvement, the less value that commodity has. There a whole generation who only recognize Woz from Dancing with the Stars.:eek:

But the good name and the fond regard of people that he earned when he was younger is priceless. I wouldn’t think he’d want to risk that legacy on something like this if he couldn’t ensure some power and vigilance over how it turned out.
I think you're romanticizing this a bit too much. Just my opinion but Woz's legacy was cemented long ago. History, for better or worse, will view him as co-founder of Apple. Full stop. Woz U will no more affect his legacy than his stint on DWTS.

But he’s become quite the odd duck over the years.[/QUOTE]
Wasn't he always?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Breaking Good

miketcool

macrumors 6502a
Jun 24, 2003
876
249
California
What? You're telling me the guy who dated Kathy Griffin and did Dancing with the Stars is making money off of his name and notoriety. Is anyone really surprised that he isn't ashamed of this?
 
  • Like
Reactions: ErikGrim

LawJolla

macrumors member
Sep 29, 2013
44
347
I'm a programmer and WozU is recruiting one of my friends. This friend is a solid teacher and legitimate programmer.

It sounds like they tried to bootstrap it off poor content and suckers, and translate it into a legitimate company.
 

nt5672

macrumors 68020
Jun 30, 2007
2,016
4,369
. . . . I would imagine he is not involved in operations but again, I just think it’s a matter of honor and integrity that if you’re going to take a monetary cut from something, especially if it bears your name, you will also take some personal responsibility to ensure it’s implemented correctly.
Nope, there are no, or at least no more than I can count on one hand, famous people in tech or Hollywood that do that, its all for the money. Anyway, once Woz was paid, there is nothing he can do as he was nothing more than a paid actor.

People can and are paid every day to say things on TV, the internet, and in print that are not true and they don't have any qualms about it. After all they have expenses too and they must have a core competency to look or sound truthful even if they are not. You need to understand that being something or saying something that is not true is a highly valued skill in both politics and Hollywood.
 

eoblaed

macrumors 68030
Apr 21, 2010
2,518
1,973
This guy has been a blowhard for a long time. I have huge respect for his contributions in the early days of Apple, but for the last couple of decades he’s just come across as self-righteous and pompous.
 

chucker23n1

macrumors 68040
Dec 7, 2014
3,991
5,041
Wozniak responded to Business Insider in an email, claiming he had not seen the CBS News report and that he is "not involved in any operations aspects" of Woz U
OK now hold on buddy. Either you call it "Woz U", in which case you are very much front and center of any and all aspects of Woz U. Or call it something different.
[doublepost=1538413812][/doublepost]
Woz hasn't been relevant for years now. It's amazing people still keep giving this guy money or paying attention to what he has to say.
It's a bit sad. As far as I can tell, his last big hurrah was ADB, which was great for its time but irrelevant in the 1990s.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • Like
Reactions: 341328

Dexterama

macrumors regular
Sep 13, 2017
128
169
New England
“Duerr said the system was full of problems, like live lectures coming pre-recorded and out of date, unqualified mentors, frustrations with typos while coding, and sometimes completely missing instructors for certain courses.”

I’m pretty sure every university that I’ve ever attended has these same issues. I really hope we’re reaching the time where people start to smarten up and open their minds a little more. Our society has had it drilled into our heads that we’re gonna be failures if we don’t go to school. That’s so old fashioned. We have all the information in the world available to us in our pockets. Even just YouTube alone can teach you anything you want to know if you’re willing to put in the effort. Oh and I forgot to mention, it’s free! I think there are few systems in this world that are as corrupt as the college/university system in America, considering how much money people put into it and how little they get out of it. I hope that the collegiate system of America burns. That won’t happen until people realize how much they’re being ripped off though.
I’m in school, and I agree that there are some problems. Not all is bad, you just have to shop around a bit to find the teachers/curriculum that will provide the best value.

I love the video tutorials/lectures on youtube. There is a guy with the channel called The Chemistry Tutor who also teaches calculus concepts, and I learned a lot from him. Most of the time, he’s better at explaining things than my professors. He breaks down almost every step for every single problem (like adding fractions with different denominators), because he doesn’t assume you already remember how to do it, or he wants to show you each step so you won’t miss anything. If I do miss something, I just rewind the video.

Some professors assume that you should already know your algebra/geometry/trigonometry concepts, so they skip over certain steps to save time. And students should know it, but it helps to see all the steps, no matter how easy the small steps are to solve.

Unfortunately, many employers still require a degree, because it shows that if you can handle the curriculum and workload, then there is a higher degree(not always) that you can handle the job.
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.