Hacked U

Fred Wilson is right: This is a great PPT on hacking education:

I have a chapter in my book about hacked education. In the comments in this post, Bob Wyman was very helpful in extracting the functions of a university: teaching, testing, and research — to which I added a fourth, socialization. Separating those functions, one wonders which need to be part of a universityi and which don’t.

After writing it, I was talking with Bob Kerrey of the New School as he praised the quality of the lectures available online from MIT. I suggested that the aggregated university could be built around a distributed version of the Cambridge system with lecturers (the guys from MIT) and tutors (local teachers who guided students personally). Thus s learn from the world’s best while also getting the attention they need.

There are lots more models worth exploring: education by subscription, education as a club, learning networks, universities as incubators (with students following Google’s 20 percent rule and taking a fifth of their time to create something).

As the PowerPoint points out, every other industry and institution is facing upheaval — and opportunities — in the change of the internet age. Education above others should too.

  • Wiley’s presentation seems to focus on only one aspect of schools: Teaching. He doesn’t address testing, research or socialization… Perhaps most important is the “testing” problem — i.e. certifying that someone has achieved a particular level of academic achievement:

    Home schooling for High School students is viable because we have broadly accepted standardized tests at that level. In lieu of a diploma, in the US, you can pass the GED or some other High School Equivalency Exam. However, we don’t have broadly accepted standardized tests that are accepted as substitutes for post-secondary education — other than those that test narrow “vocational” skills.

    Post-secondary school online learning can’t really take off until we have broadly accepted standardized “University Equivalency Tests.” Online teaching is only part of the solution…

    bob wyman

    • Hey Mr. Wyman, I agree with you that the presentation is “one-sided” in that it focuses solely on TEACHING and doesn’t delve too much into other educational topics like research or testing.

      BTW, whenever I have children, they will most likely be *home-schooled* as well, because when I was in school, we didn’t learn anything, LOL!


      Thomas Anderson

  • Maybe the focus is more on teaching because the real focus should be on learning. Teaching is merely the means to that end.

    Everything else is just a measuring stick. Too many discussions about education these days focuses on the stick, and not actual learning.

    Learning need not be for the sake of a diploma. Without the diploma as a goal, grades are less of a concern, and in turn testing isn’t as much of a concern. Learning is a goal unto itself.

    The GED is not an appropriate metaphor for what’s being discussed in the presentation, in fact that’s more the “E-learning” model that’s critiqued as taking the same educational model and putting it online.

    What’s being discussed is the creation of new models for education altogether, and not an alternate form of delivering the same content.

    The GED is all about bypassing learning (or bypassing an experience where you will not or cannot learn) for showing you can measure up to a stick. Hell, I probably could have passed a GED exam before I was in high school.

    On a separate note, the presentation got me to thinking about how the teacher’s role would change in a more connected, personal, and open educational system. I think teachers will find themselves in the same role as reporters and editors do in journalism.

    Teachers will offer up information, discussions, and such to the world via blogs, wikis, videos, and other means much as reporters would as Jeff has suggested. Teachers will also act as “DJ’s” (to repeat a metaphor presented ealier) to find and assemble this information and guide students through it. Much like editors will in Jeff’s model of the future of journalism.

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  • If anyone missed the link at Instapundit here’s an interesting related article.

    It’s mostly about how colleges spend money and set priorities, but in the middle is an interesting example of educational re-invention via the “Virginia Tech Math Emporium”.


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