Monday, May 13. 2013
UnCollege challenges the the notion that going to college is the only path to success.
About 70% of high school graduates go on to college, even though studies seem to show that a college degree no longer guarantees success.
So, UnCollege www.uncollege.org states its mission as being "To change the notion that university is the only path to success and to help people to thrive in an ever changing world in which it is virtually impossible for educational institutions to adapt."
Some of their core belief are ones that intentionally disrupt how we have thought about post-secondary education and success.
Some of their efforts include a Gap Year Program and Hackademic Camps.
Friday, April 12. 2013
Interesting quick note from the Emerging Learning Design 2012 Conference on their upcoming keynote presentation by Dr. Christopher Hoadley. His talk will be "The Death Of Content: Why Universities and Schools are (and aren’t) being replaced by the Internet.
The topic of his presentation is one that I have also been presenting on for several years, and that I feel strongly is a topic educators need to be serious about considering.
He describes the argument of his talk as:
"The current coin of the realm in academia –content– is dying and that universities need to radically rethink their role in the world. MOOCs, homeschooling, and the shadow education system all are evidence that the 20th century role of schools is decreasingly relevant. But does this mean that schools will become obsolete? I argue that schools face a choice: use technology to enhance their current functions but hasten their demise, or use technology to transform themselves and capitalize on 17th century strengths to be a cornerstone of the 21st century knowledge economy. I offer some ideas on how to reconceptualize the notion of ‘schools’ based on the latest research in learning and on ancient ideas about how to teach."
Dr. Christopher Hoadley is associate professor in the Educational Communication and Technology Program and the Program in Digital Media Design for Learning at NYU Steinhardt.
Wednesday, March 20. 2013
I have been musing online for a few years about what will become of schools - both colleges and K12 - in the next decade. It's a question that people both inside and outside of my educational world ask me sometimes.
Dave Cormier was recently asked "Where do you see online education in 20 years? and he says he felt "sideswiped" by this question. Everyone in education thinks about the future of education. What made Cormier hesitate is that he's work on a book about MOOCs and adding them to the mix changes his thoughts on the future of online education.
His post gives some answers, but here is a short look at four answers he is considering.
In one case, he considers the possibility that the "MOOC kills higher education." It won't allay the fears of some in academia that he believes MOOCs (and he is one of the earliest proponents of them) as "most potentially damaging to higher education." He wonders what it will mean when 1 or 100 million students are taking first year physics online with a provider like MIT, especially if that course is connected to an affiliated testing center and has some credit associated with it.
I don't think educators will find much solace in his ideas about an "analytics university" either. That's a school (and I don't think I would limit it to higher education) where we have essays being graded by computers and analytics that predict whether students are likely to pass a course and notifications to the student, teachers, administrators and maybe even parents. Of course, versions of those analytics are already here and being used, so the future is really that this trend increases and becomes the norm.
Some for-profits will probably like his thoughts about the "corporate takeover" of education. My first thought is towards the entrance of for-profit organizations and publishers INTO traditional educational institutions. That is happening now. But Cormier is thinking about large, global corporations offering their own credentialing. He imagines a company like IBM recruiting students (high school aged or even younger) and starting their training before college is even considered.
I think about both of my sons, now only a few years from their college graduations, who were both told by their employers that they shouldn't forget what they learned in college, but that they should focus on their new corporate training. Cormier asks, "Why have them learn to do things an entirely ‘wrong’ way just to have to retrain them again when they start at your company?"
His fourth scenario is the most optimistic. It's the potential we have been talking about since the dawn of the Internet about a "community university" and how an Internet generation with this incredible access to information and the world community might be educated. I'd like to see that one be the education of 2023 or 2033 - but I think the first three scenarios are more likely.
Tuesday, January 22. 2013
There are always books being published about reimagining education. There are plenty of articles about educational disruptors. I have been writing about School/University 2.0 for a few years. Some of us are experimenting with MOOC's, badges, competency-based degrees, open education and other ideas.
Last fall, Time magazine had a "Reinventing College" headline that said "College Is Dead. Long Live College!" Since 2012 was the "Year of the MOOC" (to some) Time wondered if they would "pop the tuition bubble" and the president of Northeastern University wondered if "we're witnessing the end of higher education as we know it." Everyone seems to want to know what will disrupt education next and cane we prepare for it now?
An article in The Chronicle asks a different version of this topic: "For Whom Is College Being Reinvented?" Are these disruptors only disrupting education for some people? If a revolution is coming in higher education, who will be overthrown?
I believe that the traditional college degree will decrease in value for purposes of getting a job. But I don't see the end of traditional universities or the end of degrees. I do see them returning to being something for a smaller number of probably privileged people. For poorer and/or less-prepared students, alternatives to the traditional college and the traditional degrees will be the best path to a career.
Khan Academy's founder, Salman Khan, reimagines education from the elementary schools up through college and sees those teachers in the early years less as the source of knowledge in the classroom and more of the mentor. His college is more of a place where students are working on internships and mentored projects and are not in classrooms.
"Those who can afford a degree from an elite institution are still in an enviable position," wrote Megan McArdle in a Newsweek article, "Is College a Lousy Investment?" But what about the rest of the high school grads? She suggests apprenticeships and on-the-job training as more realistic and more affordable options.
Is reinvention and disruption creating (or, perhaps more accurately, returning us to) a two-tiered system of a traditional campus-based education for the haves and some other open/MOOC/online/creditless system for the have-nots?
I don't think Princeton University needs to worry much about having no one apply for admission - though they will get a smaller applicant pool just like the other schools. It's the smaller colleges that may take the hit.
Perhaps some of those smaller schools and the two-year colleges will reimagine themselves as the place for that alternative education.
MOOCs, badges, certifications and other disruptors will not save higher education. They may change it in some positive ways. There is hope that they can push us to modify the way we teach and the way we assess mastery, foster interdisciplinary work and more real-world applicability in courses, and make learning more efficient. They might also return us to the thinking from a much earlier age when no one thought that "there's a college for everyone."
Friday, November 30. 2012
Thursday, November 15. 2012
In a post by Clay Shirky, Napster, Udacity, and the Academy, he compares the disruption in the music industry to what is going on currently in higher education.
Remember when the music industry got blind-sided by Napster and other file-sharing sites? Free downloads of content. Industry reaction? Try to shut them down and continue operating as always. That didn't work. Then legitimate companies moved in (iTunes, LastFM, Spotify) and started making money selling the content legitimately and cheaply. They offered albums in mp3 pieces without the packaging and without having to buy the whole album. And the industry changed all around the music old guard, and they are still trying to figure things out.
If you look at what has been happening the past few years in higher education that has been most disruptive, it has been the offering of course content and courses for free. It started with the open courseware movement of MIT and others schools, plus iTunes U and upstarts like P2PU. And the rest of higher ed continued on as always. Then came new companies intent on offering massively large courses that were open to all online and free. And some schools and even a state tried to shut them down. Then legitimate new companies entered (Udacity, Coursera) and began working with some of the top elite universities (as iTunes U had done in 2007) to offer these courses (MOOCs) and without having to register for a degree program or pay for all the packaging (credits, fees).
And higher education is changing, and colleges are just starting to try to figure things out.
But educators are smart. Smarter than the music industry, right? According to Shirky, "We have several advantages over the recording industry, of course. We are decentralized and mostly non-profit. We employ lots of smart people. We have previous examples to learn from, and our core competence is learning from the past. And armed with these advantages, we’re probably going to screw this up as badly as the music people did."
Monday, September 17. 2012
Saylor.org is a free and open collection of college level courses. There are no registrations or fees required to take courses. You will earn a certificate upon completion of each course, but because they are not accredited, you will not earn a college degree or diploma.
It's another example of learning for the sake of learning. Experienced college professors design each course and you can achieve the same learning objectives as students enrolled in traditional colleges. Saylor started three years ago, when the foundation began hiring faculty members on a contract basis to build courses within their subject areas. The courses were built using both Open Education Resources (OER),and newly created video lectures and tests.
Tuesday, September 11. 2012
I'm seeing more and more alternatives to traditional college courses. But the thing that allows colleges to hold onto students is still the degree. Maybe one day, employers will accept certificates or badges or some alternative assessment of proficiency. Maybe alternatives to colleges will end up partnering with brick and mortar colleges for the credit and accreditation. Maybe employers will take over the responsibility of training and bypass the universities.
But, for now, a degree still has value in the working world.
That doesn't mean that companies aren't trying to crack that market. One company like that is StraighterLine. They announced that this fall they will offer students access to three leading critical-thinking tests. This will let them bring their test results to employers or colleges to demonstrate their proficiency. The tests to be offered include the Collegiate Learning Assessment (sponsored by the Council for Aid to Education) and the Proficiency Profile (from the Educational Testing Service). Both literacy tests measure critical thinking and writing, among other academic areas. The iSkills test, also from ETS, measures the ability of a student to navigate and critically evaluate information from digital technology. These tests have already been used by colleges to measure student learning, but students did not receive their scores. (A testing situation that often seen as one that offers little incentive for students to do well.
StraighterLine offers online, self-paced introductory courses that students can take, but taking their courses won't be a requirement to to sit for the two new tests. Still, some students will take their classes and take these tests and it is hoped that the test scores will help validate StraighterLine courses.
The program is being called My Line and the cost of a test will probably be under $100.
From the StraighterLine press release:
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