I saw on Twitter a link to the Forbes article

How Would You Like A Graduate Degree For $100?

http://www.forbes.com/sites/georgeanders/2012/06/05/udacity-sebastian-thrun-disrupting-higher-education/

Very interesting article.  I agree that increasingly a university degree will be less important and that the price of tuition is crazy.  Just a few weeks ago my 8 year old daughter declared she was teaching herself ballet by watching YouTube videos.  (Granted this was a short lived dedication).  Point being that knowledge is no longer constrained to the textbooks and heads of university professors.  Many universities such as MIT are putting their curriculum online for free.  If employers want the employee to be knowledgeable then people have access to the knowledge without paying a $30,000 a year tuition bill.

I love the idea of an ongoing learning experience.  I have friends who obtained a degree in computer science back in the day and their knowledge of Pascal and Fortran just aren’t relevant on a resume these days.  If they want to be hired as computer programmers they had better have updated their skills to more modern languages such as java and PHP. Do they need to go back to the university to obtain these skills?  Will employers require they have current diplomas?  I am fairly certain the answer to both of these is no.

I was tracking along with the article up until I got to the part that talked about how some students try to circumvent the online experience by signing up for dummy accounts to learn the material before they actually take the class to ensure that they got an A.  I was surprised that the response to this was not a pat on the back rather than an admonition.  This is further evidence to me that grades are meaningless and outdated.  Ultimately a grade should reflect a level of mastery, why not allow a student to access the information and take and retake a course until they get an A.  Ultimately would we not rather have all students have an A’s worth of knowledge in the content area.  Personally I would prefer than any professionals I encounter (doctors, CPA, food handling workers, etc..) all kept striving for perfection in their knowledge so they don’t accidentally kill me or get me in trouble with the IRS.

One of the things I love about the current “google it” culture is the opportunity to change the way we educate.  Rather than trying to play whack a mole with students to keep them from cheating by looking up information online instead educators have an opportunity to change the way they ask for information.  Any question they can Google the answer to is probably not that great of a question.  I love the philosophy of Jon Corippo who said that the internet is not going away anytime soon, rather than fight it… embrace it. Change the question to how they can apply it.  How can they show mastery of the topic.

Earlier today Dr. Otto Benavides showed me the video on the 5 minute university.  It is not too far from the truth.  I got an A in French in college and I remember “Jem appelle Alice” and “un, duo, cat, sanq” and I am pretty sure I can’t spell in French at all.  If we are not striving for mastery learning and continually updating our skills and more importantly if we are not emphasizing this with our students, then we are diminishing the value of our education.

hi