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
The idea of "non-traditional" higher education, like online universities, is gaining a lot of traction today. Count author Anya Kamenetz among its growing list of advocates. Not only is college too expensive, as she argued in her book Generation Debt, but it has become more or less a "credential mill" that doesn't deliver the economic gains it has promised to middle class students. Kamenetz lays out this critique in a new book called DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education
What are the main benefits of a traditional college education? In an interview with Big Think, Kamenetz outlined these "functions" and placed them into three major buckets. "One of them is obvious," she said. "content, knowledge, and skills--the type of things we’re supposed to be learning and packing into our heads in the classroom."
The second is socialization, "getting a new idea of who you are as a person coming into your own identity, relationships with peers, relationships with mentors, professors, and eventually preparing yourself to join the community of practitioners."
Lastly, there is accreditation, "that piece of parchment that lets you out in the world and participating and hopefully getting a job."
So how well can online education perform in these key areas?
As far as knowledge content goes, Kamenetz points to MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW), which has been out for 10 years, and has "really proved the model in terms of saying, it’s okay for a university to open its doors to the world to make its course material available." The next generation of open content, according to Kamenetz, is evident today in sites like the Khan Academy, which offers over 2,000 videos on everything from Algebra concepts to high finance and "they’re so easy to share, they’re so easy to transport."
Socialization is being accomplished online by "taking the way that we relate to each other in the classroom setting" and finding parallels on the web where "there is the ability for people to cluster together over shared interests."
Kamenetz calls accreditation the "trickiest area" because "it’s the monopoly force that colleges hold" that allows them to "charge so much money because they are the gatekeepers." This argument is trickiest indeed, especially when we consider the critiques of open source, made most prominently by Jaron Lanier in his book You Are Not a Gadget. If something is free, the quality tends to suffer.
However, Kamentz predicts this will change. "The traditional diploma will be supplemented and in some cases supplanted" by opinion and reputation-based networks.
Kamentz tells Big Think:
"The fact is that the strength of opinion-based networks and reputation-based networks on the web is starting to become one of the most trusted areas where people are going to look for information to make choices...The socialization and the accreditation is available through networks online in a totally different way that might be more accessible, that might be more affordable, and above all, offer people many more options for meeting these goals in different ways."
Every 10 years, the cost of attending a college or university doubles. For Beyond 50's "Education" talks, listen to an interview with Anya Kamentz about the future of education. It's a story about the communities of visionaries who are tackling the enormous challenges of cost, access and quality of higher education using new technologies to bring a revolution in higher education that is affordable, accessible and learner-centered. Visit www.Beyond50Radio.com and sign up for our free e-newsletter.
Interview with Anya Kamenetz: Learning Withinand Beyond The Institution
July 14, 2010
The current model of higher education in the U.S. is deeply flawed and unsustainable, says journalist Anya Kamenetz, in her new book DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education. Kamenetz's critique is both economic and social, encompassing such topics as the cost of tuition and textbooks, loan-based financial aid, admissions patterns, and the deteriorated job market.
Despite the gloomy picture she paints of traditional higher education, Kamenetz seems fundamentally optimistic about how technology is lowering barriers, presenting greatly increased opportunity for a "do-it-yourself" education.
Kamenetz gave the keynote address at the June 2010 Sakai conference, the flagship community-source collaboration of higher education institutions aiming to improve online learning systems. I caught up with her to talk about technology, learning, and higher education. —Mark Notess
Mark Notess: As I read your book, I found myself wondering what kind of book it really was. What's the genre: self help, social critique, futurism?
Anya Kamenetz: For all of my career, I haven't really known how to classify myself. I've been a journalist, but one that's gotten involved in causes and hasn't been able to keep from saying what I really think.
As I got interested in covering the topic of change, I did shift over into this futurist-ish tenor, although I try to avoid making too many predictions in the book because that's just a really good way to look foolish. I do try to talk about trends, and I think things are in the process of changing — you can identify some certainties, some clear trends that are happening.
MN: I actually have a question about that because it seems like for any objection people raise about a future vision, you can come up with a website or a blog or something that some faculty member somewhere has done that's a counter-example. But how do you distinguish something that's a viable trend from something that's just a dead end?
AK: That's a really good point. Since the earliest reaches of the Internet, we've had this problem where there are examples that don't exemplify anything because they don't become trends. It doesn't really change anything. People still buy dog food at a pet store and not at Pets.com.
It's also particularly difficult in the area of higher education because we're transforming from what I argue is this activity of higher education that is so completely identified with the institution, the university, that it excludes every example that isn't in a university, and that includes community colleges. It has come to be an absurdity now that community colleges have half of all undergraduates, and yet they're not considered to be at the center of the project of what we think of as higher education.
And so, when you're talking about what's representative in terms of the future, it's like every part of the future is smaller than the monolithic institution because of its nature. You're opposing this giant unified vision of the past of the university with a million little things that are happening.
You're going to radically shift your view of higher education if you just take for granted that you're going to concentrate on the experience of the average student — the majority of students — because the degree to which we focus our attention on the 20 percent of students at selective institutions, and in particular the tiny fraction at a small handful of selective private institutions is ridiculous. It's just completely ridiculous.
DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2010) explores how students can and will use technology to sidestep the spiraling costs of college to pursue non-traditional paths toward learning. Author Anya Kamenetz talks to CT about the institutional imperative to bring down tuition costs and make higher learning more accessible to more people.
Posted June 1, 2010
Campus Technology: In the book you show how technology-enabled instruction can bring down the costs of education while at the same time making it more effective. So why isn’t everyone doing it?
Kamenetz: Administration and the technology office are [often] working at cross-purposes. The technology office says, “Oh, we need this new technology,” and the administration says, “Oh no, we need to cut costs.” The conversation can completely change if the technology officer says, “Here’s how we are going to use technology to cut costs and improve learning. And we’re going to track it because we care about cutting costs, because cutting costs means making education available to more people.”
Does college mean a leafy quadrangle or a keyboard and mouse?
Broadcast June 4, 2010 at 10:06 a.m.
A college education has become increasingly unaffordable for many Americans. In her new book, writer Anya Kamenetz explores the online alternatives students have, for better -- and sometimes -- for worse.