Very interesting and disruptive read on the future of education, below are
some parts of an 4 page article on fastcompany.com.
I was very much surprised to see this is from sept 2009!
“The Internet disrupts any industry whose core product can be reduced to ones and zeros,” says Jose Ferreira, founder and CEO of education startup Knewton. Education, he says, “is the biggest virgin forest out there.”
The edupunks are on the march. From VC-funded startups to the ivied walls of Harvard, new experiments and business models are springing up from entrepreneurs, professors, and students alike. Want a class that’s structured like a role-playing game? An accredited bachelor’s degree for a few thousand dollars? A free, peer-to-peer Wiki university? These all exist today, the overture to a complete educational remix.
The architects of education 2.0 predict that traditional universities that cling to the string-quartet model will find themselves on the wrong side of history, alongside newspaper chains and record stores. “If universities can’t find the will to innovate and adapt to changes in the world around them,” professor David Wiley of Brigham Young University has written, “universities will be irrelevant by 2020.”
But, as Wiley points out, there’s still a big gap between viewing such resources as a homework aid and building a recognized, accredited degree out of a bunch of podcasts and YouTube videos. “Why is it that my kid can’t take robotics at Carnegie Mellon, linear algebra at MIT, law at Stanford? And why can’t we put 130 of those together and make it a degree?” Wiley asks. “There are all these kinds of innovations waiting to happen. A sufficient infrastructure of freely available content is step one in a much longer endgame that transforms everything we know about higher education.”
“If you didn’t need human interaction and someone to answer your questions, then the library would never have evolved into the university,” Wiley says. “We all realize that content is just the first step.”
Paharia’s idea of “hacking” education — putting something together on the fly — is important. All of these projects are still very much works in progress.
Ultimately what interests Paharia is proving the model, demonstrating that there’s a way to provide education cheaply or even for free to all who are qualified. “I ride the Boston T around and I see these ads for schools, and it bothers me that so much hope is rested on having an education, and yet at the end of the day you end up with $100,000 in debt. What are you paying for? And is this the best way of setting up the system?”
If open courseware is about applying technology to sharing knowledge, and Peer2Peer is about social networking for teaching and learning, Bob Mendenhall, president of the online Western Governors University, is proudest of his college’s innovation in the third, hardest-to-crack dimension of education: accreditation and assessment.
“We said, ‘Let’s create a university that actually measures learning,’ ” Mendenhall says. “We do not have credit hours, we do not have grades. We simply have a series of assessments that measure competencies, and on that basis, award the degree.”
Mendenhall recalls one student who had been self-employed in IT for 15 years but never earned a degree; he passed all the required assessments in six months and took home his bachelor’s without taking a course.
“Our faculty are there to guide, direct, counsel, coach, encourage, motivate, keep on track, and that’s their whole job,”
What WGU is doing is using the Internet to disaggregate the various functions of teaching: the “sage on the stage” conveyor of information, the cheerleader and helpmate, and the evaluator.
“Technology has changed the productivity equation of every industry except education,” he says. “We’re simply trying to demonstrate that it can do it in education — if you change the way you do education as opposed to just adding technology on top.”
The transformation of education may happen faster than we realize. However futuristic it may seem, what we’re living through is an echo of the university’s earliest history. Universitas doesn’t mean campus, or class, or a particular body of knowledge; it means the guild, the group of people united in scholarship. The university as we know it was born around AD 1100, when communities formed in Bologna, Italy; Oxford, England; and Paris around a scarce, precious information technology: the handwritten book.