The March of the Edupunks

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Why can’t you take a literature course at Amherst College, a physics class at MIT and a journalism class at the University of Missouri and be on your way to obtaining a degree?

This might seem like a silly question, but cobbling together a degree after taking virtual classes at different institutions might not seem so far-fetched in the future.

A fascinating article in the latest issue of Fast Company Magazine, entitled How Web-Savvy Edupunks Are Transforming American Higher Education, raised this and many other possibilities for higher education, which has been incredibly resistant to change through technology.

Many colleges are loath to embrace all the possibilities that technology offers, but brilliant edupunks are scoffing at this intransigence as they pursue new and cheaper ways to educate Americans. One of these visionaries is Jim Groom, who is an instructional technologist at the University of Mary Washington and a prominent critic of the higher-ed status quo. Here’s what he said:

Colleges have become outrageously expensive, yet there remains a general refusal to acknowledge the implications of new technologies.

If you think this is an isolated complaint from some higher-ed techies, think again. What’s being called the open-education movement has gotten $68 million from the Hewlett Foundation alone and hungry venture capitalists are circling the ivory towers.

I can’t do justice to all the predictions that you’ll find in the Fast Company article, you’ll just have to check it out.

Further reading:  A few months ago, I wrote a post on MIT’s open courseware that touches upon one tiny aspect of how colleges can use technology to tear down their walls.

 -Lynn O’Shaughnessy, the author of The College Solution.

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