Tuesday, July 28, 2009

In the Future, The Cost of Education Will Be Zero

Article on Mashable, a social media website, gives a good overview of many of the same innovations in higher education I cover in my new book...Open CourseWare, Flat World Knowledge, University of the People

One of the commenters raises a question I've been mulling over. "I would like to see innovations that problem-solve around issues of FULL access to higher education (and quality k-12 education for that matter) for low-income communities in the US and around the world. This includes opportunities for learning that necessitate physical learning communities that dominant groups will surely continue to build for themselves... I fear that those with the resources to take these innovations to scale will focus their energies around notions of campus-free learning to the detriment of those whose only economical option might be such incomplete learning opportunities, thus dangerously perpetuating a tiered system anyway."

I think in any society you can imagine, there is going to be some inequality and the school system is going to reflect that. What distinguishes the current round of innovations in open education, from what I've seen, is an unusual amount of cross-institutional collaboration from Ivy League colleges to community colleges, and internationally, too.

Also, campus-free learning doesn't have to be seen as incomplete, but complementary to a course of lifelong learning, seeking out learning communities for oneself and incorporating one's life experience as well.

5 comments:

Marc said...

Education is already free, especially when you consider these online tools as well as regular libraries. The problem is that employers don't recognize these educational tools. Colleges do not have a monopoly on knowledge, but they do have a monoploy on credentials that employers value. And that is the barrier that needs to be breached.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, this does not solve the bigger issue - credentialization.

HR departments use credentials, as you well know - along with credit scores, job history, what font you use on your resume, and what you eat for breakfast - to thin the herd, not determine viability. It's also the reason for credential inflation; what used to "require" a bachelors now needs a masters. Not because the job has gotten more challenging, but because there are ever more people with the older degree. In non-boom times, HR departments can be overwhelmed. Just look at the current number of applicants per job (6 for each one as of last month!)

You might be brightest, most skilled person in your field, but if the HR gatekeepers don't see the magic letters/schools on your resume, you end up in the junkpile.

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