Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak’s one-year-old “Woz U” online learning institute is facing flack from students who say the quality of courses is less than optimal. The subscription-based platform is designed to teach users in coding and other digital skills.
Last fall, Wozniak rode a Segway into a packed ballroom near Phoenix to launch Woz U, an online education company promising “Education. Reprogrammed.” The project, from a bona fide Silicon Valley celebrity, generated thousands of inquiries from potential students. Among them was Bill Duerr.
“This is the Woz… you get kind of caught up in the excitement of that,” Duerr told CBS News correspondent Tony Dokoupil.
A former nuclear specialist with the Navy, Duerr came across the website last fall. “The Woz” said call now.
“You call them. What’s the sales pitch like from there?” Dokoupil asked.
“Hey, we’re so excited, we’re getting ready to launch this, like you probably can’t feel how excited we are here but let me tell you,” Duerr recounted.
The 33-week program was priced at $13,200. Duerr said at that price he expected quality content. In his opinion, the content was more like a $13,200 ebook.”
“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?”
Duerr says there were typos in the course content, just one of many problems, which also included “live lectures” that were pre-recorded and out of date, unqualified “mentors,” and even a course lacking an instructor.
“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.
CBS News spoke with more than two dozen current and former Woz U students and employees with similar complaints about the program.
Tim Mionske, an “enrollment counselor” charged with selling Woz U to prospective students and laid off back in June, said he has regrets.
“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.
As for Wozniak himself, he responded to Business Insider via email, and downplayed his involvement in Woz U, saying he hadn’t yet seen the CBS News report..
“I’m not involved in any operations aspects so I can’t answer your questions,” Wozniak said.
“I don’t know anything about those aspects. I heard LATE last night that Woz U did respond well to a large list of questions so I’m sure that will come out.”