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    Medium | Raygun Icecream | 10/31/13 | 9 min
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    • bartadamley
      Reading streakScout
      3 weeks ago

      Great piece, which is still relevant today, about the sheer potential as well as challenges when tackling an online education.

      Instead of just studying at one institution, you could choose your own degree narrative. You could study at a range of courses from a range of different institutions, including MOOCs, and this gets built into a degree.

      This is the thrill of building out a self-education online. However, just as with anything with the information age... how do we actually follow through and commit to the course that we signed up for? By having a mechanism for accountability, which ideally would be humans on the other side, supporting you, learning, hanging out with you virtually as you go through the course.

      What is needed is one place where everything gets recognized from any MOOC or University in the one location.

      And perhaps, this place already exists? It's the internet! Just as one goes through their University Major, PhD program and so on.. when attacking your online learning, coming up with a way of expressing the concrete ideas you have learned... is ideally, what would then become your artifact for your education. The only way up and out is to publish!

      • thorgalle
        Scribe
        3 weeks ago

        Great find Adam! Commitment, accountability and study support are indeed an open challenge. I see that this could be either provided by a "meta-institution" (see my comment), or maybe also as a separate (collection of) community/service provider with mentors etc.

        And yes, the internet could serve as a "learning portfolio". But how will you synthesize potentially years of your learning output, so that you can efficiently prove what you are capable of? Again, I think a MOOC meta institution could be one answer.

    • thorgalle
      Scribe
      3 weeks ago

      Thought-provoking! Somewhere the writer links the project Degree of Freedom. Need to read up more on that.

      For example, it is not cost effective for a particular University to hire 10 great biology professors to teach the one course so that students have a choice of teacher. Or offer the same course in a lot of different formats at any given time ( e.g.offering the course over a 10 week standard semester, or a 10 day 9-5 intensive mode, or a 5 week saturday afternoon course etc).

      That's a really interesting thought. This kind of flexibility would completely change higher education. Never came to my mind while in university.

      Students are not going to be exclusively Skillshare students. They are going to be Insert University Name Here students, Skillshare students, Coursera students, all at the same time. MOOCs, just like Universities need to open up their results to an open platform that communicates between everything.

      What is the value of an individual degree? I think that part of the value is that the degree-giving institution warrants the quality of the education that the receiver got. Any degree "checker" (e.g. potential employer) can look at the degree and easily verify that the candidate meets some standard requirements.

      Somehow, this trust in a completed "well-rounded" study program still needs to come from somewhere. And in the dream scenario of this article that could be a challenge.

      The end result of the Degree of Freedom project seems to have been a collection of MOOC course certificates, rather than a degree. The question to verify educational quality in this case shifts from "Did you get a degree?" to "Do the courses that you completed constitute a well-rounded study program that answers our needs?". The second question is way more complicated than the first one, and I don't think employers will want to concern themselves with it.

      Hence, I see potential in the emergence of trusted meta-institutions that offer flexible degree paths with courses from various providers. The meta-institution curates the courses and provides the degree upon completion. Do these exist already?


      Have to mention that the degree I received last year at EIT Digital Master School is in the direction of more flexibility. I could pick 2 universities across Europe, one year each, and get two master degrees + a "meta degree" after this. I did see benefit in the diversity of these experiences!