DIY U - Thinking About Open Education

BlogHer Original Post

DIY UniversityAnya Kamenetz understands the waves of change that are going to impact higher education students and the society as a whole. There is an on-going tug of war between those people who want to force education backwards to 1776 and those that are ready to ramp up to light speed. Deficits, budget cuts, financial trickery and political posturing have contributed to make obtaining an education even more difficult.

Yet I can’t help looking at the waves.

Anya’s new book, DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education might be the self-help guide that you give to love ones who want a college education, are returning to college or are trying to figure out how to pay for it. In her book she writes about how we got to this point and what individuals can do to expand their knowledge without braking the bank.

This is Anya talking about how we got to where we are and the cost of a contemporary college education:

One of the ways to save money is to self-study. The search for quality educational materials is leading more people to investigate open education.

What Is Open Education?

Open Education is the sharing and the transmission of knowledge one to one or with a group of interested folks. Open Education generally happens outside of the traditional academia or K-12 systems.

There seems to be a bum rush to claim the term Open Education, but really, this isn’t anything new. There have always been people who by necessity or choice decided to claim ownership and control over their education. It doesn’t matter if you call yourself an edupunk or autodidact. What does matter is that there is a shift in how information, knowledge and education will be transmitted. It will affect you even if you haven’t been in school for decades.

There Isn’t One Kind of Open or Self-Education.

Blogging is a great example of an individual or groups of individuals creating a body of knowledge about a certain topic. If I wanted to start learning about photography I could learn about the craft, business or techniques from dozens of photography blogs.

The resurgence of homeschooling is another example of open education. Homeschooling has branched out via the Internet into interrelated communities, sharing of on-line resources and relationships with libraries, museums or affinity organizations.

There are new sites like Peer2Peer University. It is in the early stages, but it is an exciting concept. What if a group of people gathered for a period of time to study a topic? From the About Page:

Currently P2PU is in a pilot phase. To begin, P2PU will offer scheduled "courses" that run for 6 weeks and cover university-level topics. Each course package, organized by a course volunteer, contains the syllabus, study materials and a schedule. Learning will take place in small groups of 8-14 students. P2PU blurs the boundaries between students and teachers. Volunteers step forward to create course outlines and facilitate the course work. In some cases they may be experts in the field, and in others, they may rely on input and advice from others who have expert knowledge.

Open Education Resources is a gateway site that maintains a listing of open college/university courses, tutorials and K-12 lesson plans. You will find coursework form the University of California system, education professionals and knowledgeable volunteers. The goal of the site is to make open education resources easier to find and to provide materials to self motivated individuals and teachers who need the resources. It is not just the exchange of knowledge but also the exchange of materials to support learning.

Another example is from Rice University’s Connexions where visitors can contribute, share and remix open sourced content under a Creative Commons Attribution License.

Open Education Is Not the Miracle Cure

Traditional education will still exist. There are subjects you can’t learn virtually. The socialization aspect of schools may become even more important to the generations that will be bonded to devices instead of people. There is also the reality that not everyone is self-motivated to follow through on a self-directed education plan.

No disrespect intended, but there are people who want to be told what to learn in order to achieve an educational goal. They are linear people that require a programmed course of study. We all have our preferred modes of learning. One style of learning shouldn't ramrod those that learn best in another style. It is my continued rant that the education should conform to the student and not to the system.

There is still a broadband disparity in this country, so a portion of the population is locked out of taking advantage of on-line educational resources. Even with free resources, this is a cost factor. Still, there is nothing like a little competition to shake the existing system into action. Rock the boat.

Additional Resources:

Jamie at Self Made Scholar has a number of post on how to get stated planning your personal education. She hasn’t updated recently but there are great ideas and concepts on her blog. I liked her idea of creating An Ivy League Education at Home.

Cathy Anderson writes about open education and technology at her blog. Anna Batchelder at Literacy is Priceless also keeps an eye on the news about open education.

Mary Churchill also has an opinion about Anya’s book and likes how Edupunk is going to be much more student centered and collaborative than the traditional structured system.

Academic Earth is another gateway site that makes it very easy to find educational videos in the sciences, the humanities and business. You can search by subject, university, instructor, a defined playlist or set up your own.

Gena Haskett is a BlogHer CE. Blogs:Out On The Stoop and Create Video Notebook

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