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DIYU’s Anya Kamenetz Talks Higher Education

Shareable.net caught up with Anya Kamenetz, author of DIYU: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education, to talk about the book and ways students can take advantage of open learning resources.

Neal: Why are traditional universities struggling? Which universities are the most vulnerable?

Anya: Traditional universities have a broken cost model (tuition is up more than any other major good or service for the last 20 years), which is interfering with their ability to meet burgeoning demand. On top of this, their teaching models are having trouble keeping up with the pace of change in knowledge generation. Students are learning more relevant knowledge and skills through internships and campus organizations and socializing themselves through Facebook–these are workaround, ad hoc models that don’t directly bear on what happens in the classroom.

The most vulnerable universities are in the worst value-for-money quadrant: Undistinguished, middle-tier private schools that charge a lot of money but aren’t particularly selective or innovative.

Another conversation was started over at The Chronicle of Higher Education (FYI: subscription required), where she describes a ‘moral imperative to cut [education] costs’ with technological resources.

Q. What is the one take-away you want to leave people?

A. Ideally, I hope this is a message of empowerment. I really think that the simplest and fastest thing that can change is for families and students to think differently about what higher education is and what it can be. So that they don’t think of it as this monolithic institution that is rejecting me or accepting me, and I should have to abide by their decisions and let them tell me who I am and how good I am, and when I get out I’m going to hope they can help me find a job.

None of those parts of the decision hold true anymore. It’s really learner-centered education. It’s people forging their own path with the resources available to them and not counting on these institutions to tell them who they are, and that’s really what DIY U means.


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