ISBN: 9781603582346 Year Added to Catalog: 2009 Book Format: Paperback Dimensions: 5 3/8 x 8 3/8 Number of Pages: 208 Book Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing Release Date: March 31, 2010 Web Product ID: 498
Also in Politics & Social Justice
Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education
1. Ask yourself: Is college right for me? “That might seem like a heretical thing to say, but the fact is today fewer than 50 percent of people who begin a four-year program actually complete it in six years, and there are an awful lot of people who find this out the hard way. I advocate taking time for introspection so that you have an idea of what your goal is, rather than just going to college because everyone else is going to college.”
2. Utilize open courseware. “There are so many opportunities these days for self-directed, self-propelled learning. This is good for people considering going to college, or people who are wondering what their major might be. OpenCourseWare Consortium is a bunch of different universities that put their stuff together. There’s also MIT OpenCourseWare, YouTube EDU, iTunes-U, and a new site called Einztein, which promises to be a set of courses curated by Ph.D.’s—they’re taking the best of the best online courses. There’s also the Open Learning Initiative, a set of about 50 courses in skills training like math or physics. Those also offer tutoring, so you’re doing exercises and getting feedback. Peer 2 Peer University has created a set of online courses that you go through with a group of students. You’re participating online through blogs or e-mail lists. Another great open educational resource is TED Talks. There are 600 high-quality, really well-produced videos. They’re on topics from neurobiology to poetry to international relations, and they’ve been used in classrooms all over the world.”
3. Time is money. “Since about half of all college students not finishing in the allotted time, that means they’re tacking on more tuition dollars with every extra semester. That happens when people switch majors, and also when people transfer, which about 60 percent of students do. So even if you think that you’ll never want to transfer, ask about your college’s transfer policies. One way you can make the multiple-institutions plan work for you is if you’re able to take credits over the summer, in night classes, or online from a less-expensive institution, and then apply them to your degree. That can be a really great way to get a higher value for your education. Typically, if you get more than half of your credits at one institution, you can get your degree granted from the name-brand institution, but a lot of your credits might come from a cheaper institution.”
4. Borrow from Uncle Sam.“After all this time, students still don’t understand the difference between federal and private student loans. You should maximize your eligibility for federal student loans, since federal loans have lower interest rates and better repayment schedules and terms than private student loans. Once you’ve maxed out the federal student loan (and by the way, if you need help filling out your FAFSA form, you can go to an H&R Block or a local accountant, because sometimes it can be really daunting), I recommend getting PLUS loans, which are still federal loans, but go on a parent’s credit score rather than the student’s. PLUS loans’ rates are much lower and their terms are much better than those of most private loans. You can also borrow more with them. Overall, my rule of thumb: The maximum amount you borrow in general should be no more than your starting salary. So if you’re going to be a liberal arts graduate with a bachelor’s degree, that’s $35,000. If you’re going to get an engineering degree, you can borrow maybe up to $60,000. You never want to see people borrowing $80,000 to $90,000 for a bachelor’s degree, no matter what the subject.”
5. Use social networks to create study networks. “The role of peer groups in learning is just starting to be studied, and it’s really important. Students that are proactive about forming study groups and relationships within their course of study do much better in all kinds of majors. Use Facebook to convene study groups, and use Twitter to connect with people in your course of study. There is also a website called StudyBlue: It’s basically a self-organized hub where students can go online to talk about their classes, share notes, and compare notes, and it’s across institutions. If there’s another student taking Spanish 1 at some other college, you can see what he or she is covering in class and share ideas and questions.”
6. Get a job or go abroad. “Another part that I really can’t emphasize too much is the experiential part of your education. You need to work, you need to have an internship, or a volunteer position or a travel experience while you’re in college. Look for positions that are paid, since paid internships tend to be of higher quality than unpaid ones. I would suggest that any kind of college student today do that.”
This article appeared originally in the September/October issue of Mother Jones.
What is the future of elite education, and what are the stakes for equality?
Anya Kamenetz’s article, alluringly subtitled “How TED Became the New Harvard,” makes the argument that the elite conference/video sharing site has all the attributes of the next generation of elite education: tightly curated lectures from globally recognized leaders, distributed widely for free, discussed widely in facilitated local groups.
The appeal is obvious. By making lectures open to all, TED facilitates anyone in the world consuming elite content regardless of economic circumstance. By inviting only the very best-known to give lectures, TED ensures that most of their content is, if not fantastic, at least prestigious.
What’s curiously absent from Kamenetz’s article is any discussion of the credentialing function served by universities. The world in which only students of the most elite universities would have physical access to information is clearly over. However, as long as companies, graduate schools, and elite nonprofits continue to offer better opportunities to Stanford grads than Samford grads, elite education will remain secure. Exposure to ideas is in no way co-equal with exposure to opportunity.
The obvious difficulties in Kamenetz’s argument should provoke some thought as to what education really could look like in 20 years; those concerned with equality should also be concerned with how technology can impact such a large source of societal stratification. What is good about TED is that it syndicates knowledge widely; MIT has been doing this for a few years already with many of their courses but of course offers no accreditation to online students. On the non-elite side of the ledger, University of Phoenix has built accreditation without exclusivity. There is no obvious solution to this trade-off.
One answer may lie in a push to create standardized academic standards for college graduates. The same way that SATs normalize candidates from a wide variety of socio-economic and regional backgrounds, exit examinations could do the same. (I understand that a number of European systems use such exams).
What the next generation of educational institutions can do is to make it clear where graduates of every school (including, possibly, TED) stand in terms of actual knowledge and abilities as opposed to pedigree alone.
Money Matters: More Students Opt for Online Education
Fox News, Lubbock
July 21, 2010
With the rising cost of tuition and savings troubles of many families more students are seeking alternate higher education routes that can save some dough. One of the options gaining in popularity is online course programs.
Between tuition, living expenses, books, and more for many, the cost of a higher education is becoming too much.
"You have students graduating with upwards of $20,000 in debt, many are adding upwards of $8,000 in credit card debt on top of that," says Anya Kamenetz, finance expert and author.
To avoid that mounting tab she says "the key is really to cut the cost of college overall."
Students are turning to non-traditional options, like Internet courses.
"There's been an explosion in online offerings," says Kamenetz. "You have at least one in four college students taking at least one course online."
Texas Tech offers these courses through its university college programs.
"Enrollments are up, not just online, but at off-campus locations," says Patrick Hughes, Ph.D., Texas Tech.
From K through 12 offerings to doctoral programs the course choices are numerous, and growing. The tuition isn't necessarily lower but the cost savings associated with not leaving home often are.
"They save money by not having to leave whatever situation they're in," says Hughes. "They have jobs and their jobs don't enable them to move. So they're able to get an education from wherever they are by keeping their source of income.
Students in this program can even get one-on-one attention through methods like Skype. It's a way many stay in touch with their adviser and professors.
Such is the case for Jennifer Blair. As a mother of four it's not financially feasible for her to leave her life in Marble Falls and attend classes here in Lubbock.
For many, graduating with a smaller debt to repay is priceless.
Motivating DIY Learners
July 15, 2010
Alan Levine wrote a post a couple of weeks ago that’s been stuck in my brain ever since, primarily because it asks what I think might be the seminal “next” question for education:
What is going to motivate the large swath of a society to become educated or to learn something in a self-directed fashion? It’s one thing to be facing a need that I need to to know first hand– how to fix a bike dérailleur, how to stop a leaking toilet, how to bake a lemon meringue pie how to add a widget to a web page– these are all places DIY shines, when I know that I don’t know something and want to fill that gap. It is clear when I don’t know something I want to know. Lots of people do this. But what is going to drive people to learn what they don’t think they need to learn? What they don’t know is worth learning? In a DIY world with people tooling up for a better job, are they going to DIY their way into poetry? French literature? Is the limits of education the things we need to know how to perform/get a job? That a bothersome underlying under toe in DIY U- that the purpose of education is to end up in a job. That feels…. lifeless.
The question grew out of his read of DIY U, Anna Kamenetz’s newish book which brought me to some similar wonderings back in April. Back then, looking at it from a parenting perspective, I wrote
Is it any wonder they can’t “take charge of their own education” when that self-directed love of learning on their own was driven out of them by second grade, when no one has ever allowed them to or taught them how do that?
But Alan’s question raises the stakes a bit, I think. Through my very K-12 centric lens, I’ve always looked at this as a challenge for our education system, whereas Alan suggests, it’s really about us all. At a moment where, if we have access, we can know and learn so much about whatever it is that we might be interested in, what will it take for people in general to actually take advantage of this “Cognitive Surplus” as Clay Shirky calls it and move away from the television set and into the DIY Learning world online?
I still think that a lot of this shift will rest in the “passion-based learning” opportunities that John Seely Brown writes so compellingly about. But as Alan suggests, there is a big difference between being passionate about getting the stupid toilet fixed and being passionate to learn, and more importantly create new learning, around all of those great things that you may not even know you could be passionate about. Just because we now have this cognitive surplus doesn’t mean we’re going to take advantage of it.
So after a couple weeks of returning to it, I’m not sure I know what the answer to the question is, (do you?) at least for the adults in the world. For the kids, and for schools however, I think it’s pretty clear. Our most total, laser-like focus has to be on learning, learning that is “lifelong and lifewide,” and making sure we do everything we can to expose our kids to as many different subjects and experiences as we can early on to help them identify what their passions might be. As a parent right now, I would gladly give up a lot of the “knowing” that my kids are doing, a lot of the content that’s being crammed in their heads, in exchange for time spent on what learning can be at a time when they have 2 billion potential teachers at their fingertips. Do that, and they’ll find the content they need when they need it, but they’ll also then have a much better chance of carrying that seed of self-direction with them throughout their lives.
That’s a huge shift in the role of schools, no doubt, and it ain’t going to come easy since “learning” isn’t near as easy to assess as “knowing.” But looking at the world as it is, not as it was, how can we not begin to make that shift?
We Don't Need No Education
Viplav Baxi's Meanderings
July 17, 2010
I was reading with interest Will Richardson’s Motivating DIY Learners and his links to Alan Levine’s The Gaping M Shaped Void for DY Education and then following up on Anya Kamenetz who has written a new book called DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education which I have to read, and I couldn’t stop getting into an uncontrolled bout of expression, perhaps more an unsubstantiated vent.
Do we have a reason to learn? Sure. Depending upon the context, which could range from generating income to enabling ourselves to perform a task to whatever.
Who benefits when we learn? We should (and perhaps mostly do), but our employer, collaborator or the society at large, directly or indirectly, benefits from our actions that result from our learning.
How are the choices made? Of course, we may exhibit individual agency and demonstrate our choice over what we learn, but that in turn is partly conditioned by our constraints and the expectations we have about the results from learning, material or not. In part it is conditioned or influenced by what is expected of us.
When Alan Levine asks “What is going to motivate the large swath of a society to become educated or to learn something in a self-directed fashion?”, in the context of Anya’s new DIY U concept (and book), I am reminded of the question that was posed in CCK08 - “What do you think it will take for this change to happen?” (in the context of Connectivism and its potential impact). Both questions are about change, and the change being discussed is as much about the “why” of our learning as about the “how we are learning”. Both questions focus on the traditional systems of education as the reference point.
The 2010 Blackboard Developer\'s Conference started early this morning at 8am. We have over 275 attendees, which is the largest DevCon attendance ever! To kick this year\'s conference off, we invited Anya Kamenetz, a passionate writer from NYC to discuss her thoughts on transforming higher education from her latest book DIY U. Normally, the DevCon keynote is much more technical in nature, but Anya quickly explained that system administrators, developers, and other IT staff have important roles in shaping the minds of faculty and students to understand what is possible from a technology standpoint. These roles are not only important but are growing in influence as technologies are rapidly becoming available and many faculty may not be aware of these new tools to develop more effective learning practices.
Anya\'s presentation was close to 45 slides and grabbed immediate attention with large images to make her point. She started off by explaining that today\'s graduation rates at typical 4-year institutions are decreasing and the availability of learning content on the web and tools to socialize on the web are dramatically increasing. This led her into a conversation that universities need to adopt new models of openness to give students more choices to develop their own learning paths and outcomes. The old model of come to a university, get a diploma, and get a job is not working as well as it once did. Today, students go to a university to gain academic information and skills, but they also supplement that learning with internships, mentors, free online learning centers, and help from peers to develop a portfolio of skills that will enable the desired job. Anya then showed off many examples of free online learning opportunities and rich communities of like minded individuals collaborating about their portfolios of work. In closing, Anya urged the audience to all think about how we can increase our graduation rates by adopting and encouraging a more open, flexible learning environment.
It was a pleasure getting to know Anya and learning from her inspiration presentation. Blackboard will continue to develop innovative enhancements for all Blackboard solutions and we will always keep in mind the importance of not only open systems but also of open learning paths.
Innovation/Transformation: Do It Before It\'s Done To You!
Society For College and University Planning Blog
June 27, 2010
Frankly, we\'re envious of Anya Kamenetz, author of DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education. Not because her book is selling so well, but because she is having what seems to be a delightful time, traveling and meeting with many of the movers and shakers in higher education. Her blog, DIY U, is where she posts about some of those experiences.
In Education and the Laying on of Hands (which refers to that mysterious something a professor can only do in a face to face, physical classroom) she shares observations and communications she\'s recently had about a panel discussion she participated in at UC San Diego recently.
What we find most interesting is her observation in response to the hundreds of professors who signed a petition against the findings of Washington State\'s "2020 Commission on the Future of Higher Education." They wrote: "One of the problems with the newest crop of distance-learning institutions is that they are motivated entirely by profit" She replies: This is true. The gauntlet has been thrown down. Public institutions need to get involved in defining online learning education or it will be defined for them by a set of institutions with very different agendas. (Our emphasis.)
Cementing The Status Quo and Anya Kamenetz's Alternatives
Center for College Affordability and Productivity
July 7, 2010
This, from a post on The Quick and the Ed, entitled Student Lending Stories to Watch:
According to the U.S. Department of Education, 3,744 schools–or 73 percent of those in the aid programs—were ready for the Direct Loan Program as of June 24. An additional 1,340—or 27 percent—were in transition. Most importantly, no eligible schools are failing to work on the switch. At the state level, everyone but North Dakota and Puerto Rico already have a majority of their institutions ready for Direct Lending...
Most of the savings from eliminating FFEL went to increasing the maximum Pell Grant and covering its expenses for next year, but some funds also provided additional money for the existing College Access Challenge Grant and a program giving grants to minority serving institutions. The legislation also created the new Community College and Career Training Grant Program to be run in the Department of Labor. That program has no existing track record and as the sole consolation prize from an initial ambitious agenda for community colleges, it will be very interesting to see how the Department of Labor ends up designing these grants.
I haven\'t quite heard these Obama education initiatives praised as some sort of saving grace, fortunately, but I also haven\'t heard very much mainstream criticism of them either. Most people - certainly anyone who has spent time in college in recent years - can recognize these programs as more of the same solutions to continuing problems. Insofar as these programs do promise marginal improvements (debatable), it can\'t be argued that they represent the revolutionary and systemic change that is needed for the status quo to improve overall.
Anya Kamenetz\'s new book DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education, which you can read a little bit about here, is one I just started and which promises to be a wonderful read.
I\'m very pleased to announce that Anya Kamenetz (aka @anya1anya, author of DIY U and journalist for Fast Company will be the keynote speaker at this year’s annual Blackboard Developers Conference. Anya’s keynote will challenge us all with a presentation on the future of the Virtual Learning Environment and Educational Institutions in the world of DIY U and Edupunk. She will share her insights into the learning tools being used by students and instructors in the world of web 2.0 and social networking. I hope her comments will provide us with some insight challenges and inspiration for members of our community working to develop next generation tools.
The 2010 Developers Conference is shaping up to be our best DevCon ever. This year we have a packed agenda covering topics that include supporting your professional development as a Blackboard System Administrator, B2 developer best practices, and database developer/administrator training on how to customize and optimize a Blackboard installation. In addition to these sessions and presentations, there will be an “Ask the Experts” booth where any participant can interact with senior Blackboard engineers, architects, and designers to ask questions that will help their institution get the most out of their Blackboard installation. This is a great opportunity to learn and share from peers and from Blackboard experts.
Finally, you’ll hear more from Ray Henderson regarding Blackboard’s openness strategy with the Open Database initiative. Several sessions will be dedicated to this initiative and the impact the Open Database will have on not just Blackboard clients, but education around the world.
DIY U: The Modern Guild at Work
June 28, 2010
I’m waiting for the video of Anya Kamenetz’s keynote to be available online before I kick off my post series on the Sakai conference. In the meantime, here’s a quick update on a previous (and Kamenetz-related) post. A while back, I suggested that a modern variant on the guild approach could pull apprentices straight out of high school and train them in a craft while getting them started in a career directly. I also speculated that the software industry would be a good candidate for helping such a career path become socially acceptable for students looking to get into white collar jobs:
[W]ould a young person who is already from a relatively high economic bracket consider this guild system to be an acceptable career path? Would the guild path be accepted as a substitute for four years of full-time college study by middle-class students and their parents? It would take some work, but I believe it could be possible. Software development is one example of an industry that might be a good pioneer of this approach. If, say, Microsoft or Google were to take students out of high school to become paid employees and put them on an apprenticeship path where they would be able to earn their degrees over time at lower cost while earning good salaries and becoming shareholders in the company, this approach could become acceptable in a hurry.
I’ve always been an idiot, but I never thought I’d become a “useful idiot,” but it looks like that may be proving to be the case. The above comment on one of the now many, many articles about EDUPUNK has been stinging me for months—and yesterday when I read this article by Glenn Harlan Reyonolds in the Washington Examiner, it seemed that the above comment was absolutely right. Here is a bit from Reynolds’ article that gives you a sense of his vision for Higher Ed:
It may actually make them [students] more economically productive by teaching them skills valued in the workplace: Computer programming, nursing or engineering, say. (Religious and women’s studies, not so much.)
Post-bubble, perhaps students — and employers, not to mention parents and lenders — will focus instead on education that fosters economic value. And that is likely to press colleges to focus more on providing useful majors. (That doesn’t necessarily rule out traditional liberal-arts majors, so long as they are rigorous and require a real general education, rather than trendy and easy subjects, but the key word here is “rigorous.”)
If we all want something better than what we have/had for our children, this is akin to unrestricted growth. At some point, we need to plateau (or descend again, as population continues to increase…) – 1% higher ed enrolment in the US in the 1800s, up to nearly everyone attending some form of higher ed now…
“Professionalization” of occupations – formation of boards and bureaucracies to determine who is “qualified” to practice an occupation – may be a nice segue from straight institution-granted accreditation. Guilds? Apprenticeships? How do these concepts adapt from the trades to more “white collar” academic subjects?
The way she describes the history of higher education institutions in the US (and, I’m assuming, in other Western countries) sounds an awful lot like a real estate bubble. Speculators grab some land, hype it, sell it, then need to find more land and hype (manipulate media to artificially foster need…) that even more to keep buyers coming. Repeat until mortgage crisis…
Recently, an article by Anya Kamenetz, author of DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education, in which she paints a picture of how much education has changed, was featured on the cover of Fast Company. First graders use proprietary software and hardware; curricula self-adjust to the pace of the students; and the massive amounts of content presented on the Internet have democratized - at least on the surface - the challenge of access.
Large companies like HP are offering integrated packages like TeachNOW (designed in cooperation with frog design), which gives teachers a bird’s-eye view of the classroom and allows them to directly connect to packaged content sources. Connexions offers a similar content repository, in open-source fashion, of more than 16,000 reusable models with names like “serial port communication,” “the biopsychosocial model of health and illness,” and “Indian classical music: tuning and ragas.”
College tuition has been outpacing inflation for decades. Between 1990 and 2008, tuition and fees rose 248 percent in real dollars, more than any other major component of the consumer price index. Raising the Pell grant’s maximum doesn’t address this underlying problem. Constant transfusions of public money help keep the patient alive but do not stop the bleeding.
What’s to be done about dropout rates and outstanding student-loan debt that currently totals over $730 billion, or $23,200 per graduating senior in 2008? At first, I stood with progressives who say the federal government should increase grants and rein in the parasitic student-loan business. But while the student-loan industry has been part of the problem, and more grants are part of the solution, there is more to this story.
As she lays out, the only viable solution is to find ways to apply technology to the problem. And she details a number of innovative and promising steps along these lines. But this still does leave us with the question of whether online learning can replace the credential offered by a degree from a reputable university. Ezra Klein is skeptical and therefore says he “see[s] the DIY U concept applying more to lifetime learning, where accreditation is less important, than to post-high school learning, where you’re largely trying to separate yourself out from an undifferentiated mass of job applicants.”