Sunday, June 24, 2012

Corporatizing the Public University v. Open Source Education

This is a follow-up post by Carter and Links to Teresa Sullivan University Of Virginia Ouster Led By Political Donors Lacking Academic Experience, adding the gory details.

Worth a look if you are into the future of higher education in the US. Appears like corporate America wants to to see public universities compete with for-profit University of Phoenix. Can it be done without degrading standards is the question.

The interesting thing to me is that as education goes this way, it opens the way for informal education to replace it. Why pay for online education when just as good or better is available free? One is just buying a credential, and that's is not a viable strategy. To easy to open source this model to make it profitable over time.

But open source education is already coming anyway.The Kahn Academy is just the first step. More and more children will be home schooled as youngsters and then will take charge of their own education as soon as they are able, which will become younger and younger over time.

Sir Ken Robertson will be pleased. Watch Changing Education Paradigms.

Read it at The Huffington Post
UVA Teresa Sullivan Ouster Reveals Corporate Control Of Public Education
by Zach Carter and Jason Links


Matt Franko said...

Former GE Exec and human fossil Jack Welch is affiliated with some on-line schooling companies:

Dont these guys ever retire and live out the rest of their lives gracefully?

So zealous to obtain ever more increasing balances of USDs. Here it says he put in $2M at his age. (Easy come, easy go?)

I get a sense that this type of new "for profit" secondary education initiatives is behind this chaos at UVA some how...


jeg3 said...

Instead of ending up like this (wealthy malefactors dream):

Communities can try a variant of (harder for crass philistines to extract rent from):

Anthony said...

It is interesting to speculate what these new models will do to the humanities. For-profit models tend to downplay them severely because their value is not quantifiable and therefore "doesn't exist." Or, worse, they retool them to serve corporate interests.

In the tech field, open source made programming less manufacturing-like and more interpretation-like. Talented programmers, often in business for themselves, applied open source technology to the needs of specific firms. Since the humanities are all interpretation, it suggests they'll still be around. But once neoliberalism has succeeded in convincing us there is no such thing as the public interest because there is no such thing as the public, only the market, whose interests will the humanities serve? Perhaps future historians, philosophers, and literary critics will vie for jobs in the corporate propaganda business.

Tom Hickey said...

Matt: "Dont these guys ever retire and live out the rest of their lives gracefully?"

They are driven. True saints are driven by love, while the celebs, the rich and the powerful are driven by fame, fortune and power. Ordinary folks are driven by desire for pleasure, whence "dirty ond man" and studies showing that old folks homes are like co-ed college dorms. :o

Ryan Harris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Hickey said...

jeg3: "Communities can try a variant of (harder for crass philistines to extract rent from): Why We Should Steal Finland's Education System

Good first step maybe, but I get more radical.

One problem that the US faces that a country like Finland doesn't is scale and cultural asymmetry.

The US is reaching a population size where scaling become difficult to project-manage and potentially more expensive per unit and per unit of change.

So I think that some radical experiments are needed. These kinds of experiments have been going on in alternative education for decades and there is quite a bit of literature on this subject in the field of education, sociology and developmental psych.

The US is not thinking out of the box. We are still using the old country school model out of which US education grew, and the old college is for the elite model, too.

Those are models that have to abandoned and new models developed for the 21st century world. The US is now competing with China and the Chinese are very smart people. Our advantage is being more adaptable. If we abandon that advantage the US is toast.

They are a lot more numerous than we are. We have to be more innovative and more adaptable and do more with less through "design science" (Bucky Fuller). In today's world that means open source, exploring many options fluidly and constantly upgrading iaw feedback.

Tom Hickey said...

@ Anthony

Good observations.

My take is that neoliberalism is now cresting and that its historical moment, to quote Hegel, is soon to end.

Every moment of time takes a partial view of the whole system and exalts it beyond its actual qualitative value. That action results in an opposite reaction that becomes stronger and the previously dominant force of that historical moment becomes weaker.

It takes time for a wave to build from the depths, but when a wave crests as the water comes shallower, it falls fast, to be followed by another wave coming from the deep.

The replacement of neoliberalism is already rising form the depths. It is just not very visible yet, chiefly because most people are still looking at the awesome size of the wave about to crest. So they don't see what's behind it. But those who climb higher can see more of the ccean and those who dive deep can see the currents that undulate there.

jeg3 said...

Hi Tom,

I agree that change is needed, but from my observations the education profession has been (some good and some not), but over time the change is positive. Again from my observation, when politicians and the wealthy with agendas get involved it takes education in the wrong direction. The push for high stakes testing on children is a failure, and time to stick to America's strengths. As for Finland you make good points, but I think their focus on developing and hiring the best teachers is correct and keeping it public is best because the private sector can't be trusted (profits before education).
“Thank you again for holding a public hearing on the evolution of student assessments. As I am sure you are aware, more than half the school boards of Texas, where all of this started, have now signed a resolution opposing high-stakes testing. Such resolutions are being passed by school boards across the nation. “
“American education is at a crossroads. There are two paths in front of us: one in which we destroy our strengths in order to “catch up” with others in test scores and one in which we build on our strengths so we can keep the lead in innovation and creativity. The current push for more standardization, centralization, high-stakes testing, and test-based accountability is rushing us down the first path while what will truly keep America strong and Americans prosperous should be the latter, the one that cherishes individual talents, cultivates creativity, celebrates diversity, and inspires curiosity. “

The grass is not always greener:
“American education has many problems, but to paraphrase Sir Winston Churchill, it is the worst form of education except for all others that have been tried. The decentralized system with local governance is a fundamentally sound framework that has evolved within the American contexts, that has led to America’s economic prosperity and scientific preeminence so far, and that is being studied and copied by others. There are merits and strengths that cannot be ignored. “

Tom Hickey said...

I think that benchmarks are useful for general assessment, and I agree that the standard testing that is now used is misapplied. The benchmarks should be used as one tool for assessing student performance individually with a view to improving outcomes through better focus on individual needs.

Using standard testing more broadly I don't see as helpful. It ends up producing teaching toward the test, and the result is a stultifying and stressful educational process than produces the opposite of what is desirable.

Tom Hickey said...

But this article is about higher education, and higher ed is not mostly about acquiring information. It's about learning how to learn, as well as about how smart people think and how creative people operate. College profs are more mentors than information conduits. This is especially the case in grad school.

Tom Hickey said...

"College profs are more mentors than information conduits."

I should have written College profs should be more mentors than information conduits. Used to be that way. More and more they are treated as info conduits.