November 20th, 2012

Quae Non Possunt Non Manent

Clay Shirky:

Open systems are open. For people used to dealing with institutions that go out of their way to hide their flaws, this makes these systems look terrible at first. But anyone who has watched a piece of open source software improve, or remembers the Britannica people throwing tantrums about Wikipedia, has seen how blistering public criticism makes open systems better. And once you imagine educating a thousand people in a single class, it becomes clear that open courses, even in their nascent state, will be able to raise quality and improve certification faster than traditional institutions can lower cost or increase enrollment.

College mottos run the gamut from Bryn Mawr’s Veritatem Dilexi (I Delight In The Truth) to the Laboratory Institute of Merchandising’s Where Business Meets Fashion, but there’s a new one that now hangs over many of them: Quae Non Possunt Non Manent. Things That Can’t Last Don’t. The cost of attending college is rising above inflation every year, while the premium for doing so shrinks. This obviously can’t last, but no one on the inside has any clear idea about how to change the way our institutions work while leaving our benefits and privileges intact.

This is an important and, in a way, ironic point. That the more we rail against and criticize those that attempt to undermine the status quo, the more we provide a path to improvement. Especially now when the world is much more connected and transparent than it was a short time ago. And it also makes me think of Clay Christensen’s assessment of the news industry:

"I think we didn’t quite understand, and still don’t really understand, how quickly things fall off the cliff."

I’m convinced we’re going to look back at what happens to education at all levels in the next 5-10 years and shake our heads.

My reality check? I’ve got a 15 and 13 year-old, and the cost vs. premium argument Shirky makes is compelling to me. I know there are amazing schools out there. And I’m not saying that there isn’t still a path that sees my kids going to college. But there is a part of me that wishes these new paths that are just taking root were more established, more clear.

A few weeks ago, my daughter’s friends were shocked that she wasn’t taking the PSATs as a sophomore. She came home one day a bit exasperated, and asked me “What should I tell them?”

I hesitated, and then said “Tell them we’re just keeping our options open.” 

"What does THAT mean?’ she asked.

Still working on that answer…

June 22nd, 2012

Wasting Access

I find this George Siemens quote interesting on a number of levels:

Higher education is searching for a new value point, a new narrative that communicates what it offers learners and society. Part of this new value point is communicating what the university offers in an age where the mediator role of content curation and teaching is now starting to be addressed through organizations or agents other than the university. The Internet is happening to education. As a consequence, many of the previously held value points (content and teaching, for example) are being in a sense, reduced.

First, as a parent of two teenagers, I’m looking hard for the “new value point” of higher ed for my own kids moving forward. I’ve been thinking about how the “organizations or agents other than the university” will play into their learning for quite some time, and I remain convinced those alternatives will play a big role in their ongoing education.

But more, I think George captures the challenge for K-12 as well. What now do WE offer at a moment when it’s not so much about mediating content and teaching as much as it is about finding and creating one’s own content and the sharing of learning and knowledge? I’m not so sure it’s a “new” narrative as much as it’s about the appeal that a interest based, self-directed, co-operative progressive education has right now. I mean what good is access if we’re not using it in ways to develop the important mindsets and dispositions of learners?

Read the whole interview. 


June 10th, 2011
But authors Morley Winograd and Michael Hais, who have previously written about the younger generation, warn in their new book, “Millennial Momentum: How a New Generation is Remaking America,” that private sector leaders that they too will have a responsibility: “(T)heir leadership paradigm will have to change just as radically as conventionally accepted notions of what drives economic growth. A new type of organizational leadership that matches the values and beliefs of Millennials will be required in order to engage those fortunate enough to have a job in the process of innovation and creativity….”
In other words, watch out. If the economy doesn’t make room for these young people, there’s a very good chance they will find ways to change the economy to make room for themselves.

New Grads Adapt to Job Market Realities | PBS NewsHour | June 8, 2011 | PBS

Another reason we should be giving kids more opportunities for self-direction in K-12…they’re going to need that disposition more than ever.

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Welcome! I'm Will Richardson, parent, educator, speaker, author, 12-year blogger at Weblogg-ed and now here. I'm trying to answer the question "What happens to schools and classrooms and learning in a 2.0 world?" Best selling new book: Why School?s...order now!!

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