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Playbook boosts community college efforts to help students get data analyst jobs

With a new publication, Stanford, Google, and the Bay Area Community College Consortium offer a road map for integrating Google Career Certificates into community college education
Community college students working on laptops in a classroom at San Jose City College
Sanjay Dorairaj, an instructor at San José City College, has incorporated content from the Google Career Certificate in Data Analytics into his courses to give his students the opportunity to attain the certificate.
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Many community college students want to find work in the tech sector, but it’s hard to land that first job. Now a team from Stanford Digital Education (SDE), Bay Area Community College Consortium (BACCC), and Google has published a playbook aiming to support students’ transitions to careers in technology.

At the center of this effort lies the Google Career Certificate in Data Analytics, which enables learners to earn a certificate upon successfully completing a series of online courses created by Google. The new publication, Empowering Community Colleges: A Playbook for Integrating Google's Data Analytics Certificate into Curriculum, is intended to help community college faculty to provide their students with opportunities to obtain the certificate as part of their community college education.

Mike Acedo
Mike Acedo, Stanford Digital Education

“While community colleges do amazing work preparing their students for careers and transfer to four-year colleges, employers want to know that applicants have attained specific skills needed for data analytics jobs,” said Michael Acedo of Stanford Digital Education, who led the project to produce the playbook. “My colleagues and I hope the playbook makes it easier for these schools to incorporate certification into their programs, underscoring that their students’  education is attuned to industry requirements.”

Launched in 2021, the Google Data Analytics Certificate consists of eight courses, including lessons on how to collect, clean, and analyze large data sets, using Tableau, and learning to code in the R programming language. No relevant experience or degree is needed. The certificate is hosted on Coursera, an online platform, and can take three to six months (at 10 hours per week) to complete. The vast majority of learners pursuing the certificate do it independently through Coursera, though coursework at community colleges could potentially supplement that effort. Community colleges are given free access to the Google data analytics courses on Coursera.


Explore the playbook on Issuu                   Download the PDF of the playbook

The 22-page playbook has two parts: a teaching-related section and one on administrative actions relating to accreditation. 

The first aims to help community colleges identify the best way to fit the data analytics certification program into students’ education: to present it as a voluntary after-school club, a standalone course, or to integrate the Google lessons into the community college’s existing coursework. It then offers hands-on guidance to instructors who wish to align certificate materials with existing curriculum standards, helps them to create curriculum maps, and makes suggestions on how they can tailor their teaching methods to the different formats in the certificate lessons. In addition, instructors can get tips from the playbook on devising a grading scheme that accompanies use of the Google assignments and exams.

The administrative actions section of the playbook discusses how to seek and obtain institutional approval at a community college for a new credit-bearing course that uses the Data Analytics Certificate materials.  While recognizing that this process can vary from community college to community college, it outlines a basic strategy for approaching this goal.

Rock Pfotenhauer
Rock Pfotenhauer, Bay Area Community College Consortium

“We are pleased to collaborate with Stanford and Google on piloting a program that may facilitate more of our students embarking on computer science careers,” said Rock Pfotenhauer, co-chair of BACCC. “The path to securing quality tech jobs can be daunting, so giving them the chance to earn Career Certificates may help them navigate that process."

The playbook arose from a pilot program sponsored by BACCC, Google, and SDE in summer 2023 at Stanford. It featured a professional development program at Stanford focusing on the Google Data Analytics Certificate and data science pedagogy. It was attended by 10 community college faculty members in STEM fields. They received coaching throughout the summer on best practices and strategies to integrate the certificate into their coursework. As part of this work, the project team conducted interviews, engaged in 1-1 touch points, and organized additional workshops and demonstrations to help meet the faculty needs and goals. 

The feedback gathered from these summer activities informed the strategies highlighted in the playbook, making it truly a faculty-driven resource. The authors also did follow-up interviews with the summer participants and other community college faculty, as well as tapping expertise of educators at Stanford and the creators of the Google Certificate. 

Sanjay Dorairaj
Sanjay Dorairaj, instructor at San José City College

The publication includes case studies about the experiences at three community colleges that have successfully integrated it into their offerings. One case study recounts the experience of Sanjay Dorairaj, a lecturer at San José City College, who attended the summer workshop and then incorporated the certificate lessons into his series of courses on the fundamentals of business and data analytics.

“My students were motivated by the chance to earn the Google Data Analytics Certificate while taking my courses: This credential was a big boost to their efforts to find more lucrative work in Silicon Valley,” he said. “The material for the certificate supported and complemented my lessons, helping students to better understand certain key concepts. I appreciated the assignments and exams that the Google curriculum provided as it gave me another way to see how my students were doing.”

He added that his students found it helpful to have in-person support for the online work they did for the certificate. 

The Data Analytics Certificate is one of nine Career Certificates developed by Grow with Google, the company’s economic opportunity initiative. The BACCC-Stanford-Google team behind the playbook hopes that it can serve as a template for bringing these other certificates to more community colleges. There may be additional playbooks produced for the other certificates in the future.

Lisa Gevelber
Lisa Gevelber, Grow with Google

Producers of the playbook said that focusing on data analytics was the logical place to begin this collaboration between BACCC, Google, and Stanford. It is the most popular of the Google Certificates, likely stemming from the good pay of data analytics work and the high demand for these skills. There were 295,000 open jobs in the field last year, with a median salary of $93,000, according to labor market analytics firm Lightcast, as posted on the Google website.

“The certificates are meant to ensure that data analytic jobs and other employment opportunities created by technology are accessible to people coming from a variety of educational backgrounds,” said Lisa Gevelber, founder of Grow with Google. “By making it easier to earn certificates through community colleges, we are taking another step to break down barriers to employment in the tech sector and creating a new and robust pathway for upward mobility for working Americans.”

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The Bay Area Community College Consortium (BACCC) is comprised of 28 colleges surrounding the San Francisco and Monterey bays and serves as a framework to: a) facilitate, collaborate, plan, manage, communicate, and inform career education program investments, b) create career pathways through collaborations with K12 and Adult Education Consortia partners to prepare students for high demand, livable wage jobs, c) engage with industry and employers to develop curriculum and programs that address the workforce needs of our local economy, and d) advocate for career education policy and initiatives.

Grow with Google is a Google initiative to ensure that the opportunities created by technology are available to everyone. Since Grow with Google’s inception in 2017, it has helped more than 11 million Americans grow their skills, careers, and businesses. It provides training, tools, and expertise to help small business owners, veterans, and military families, jobseekers and students, educators, startups, and developers. Grow with Google has a network of more than 9,000 partner organizations like libraries, schools, small business development centers, chambers of commerce, and nonprofits to help people coast-to-coast. 

Stanford Digital Education leads the development of Stanford’s online and hybrid education strategies and strengthens Stanford’s capacity to carry them out. It incubates and supports mission-driven digital education initiatives, while also serving as the entry point for groups outside the university wishing to partner with Stanford on digital education programs. By marshaling Stanford’s human and technological capabilities in new ways, Stanford Digital Education seeks to build a more just, equitable, and accessible system of higher education.

Jonathan Rabinovitz is communications director for Stanford Digital Education.

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