I just finished reading DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education, by Anya Kamenetz. Although it was published in March of 2010, it is still very relevant today as the consumer rebellion against rising college costs that she predicted has started to come to fruition, especially this year. In addition, all of the recent press about MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) was foreshadowed in her assertion that the availability of free course content on the web (via iTunes U, YouTube…) plus social media platforms to make high tech also high touch (e.g., 2for platform, online gaming…) has the potential to transform the delivery of education.
She observes three reactions to these opportunities:
- A movement to use new technologies within existing colleges to reduce costs. For example, a Department of Education project: The National Educational Technology Plan is looking at technology enhanced course redesign to lower costs.
- Do It Yourself (DIY) “Edupunks” who see the new technologies as a way to support “vivid” learning, in which the learner gains direct experience with a topic and then is able to share their learning in a community. Alternative credentialing is emerging to support this approach, including competency based assessments, portfolio building, and building “reputation based currency” through online projects and information sharing. Peer to Peer University and College Unbound are cited as examples.
- Finally, “eduprenuers” who are developing test prep systems, education management systems (like Blackboard and Moodle), and course content managers to fill holes in the existing technology to support new approaches to education.
Probably of most interest to non-higher education folks who may read the book, she offers advice in the “resources” section for people who want to DIY, want to cut educational costs, want to explore experiential learning, and want to build a reputation based job network (or “whuffie”). All that said, and new vocabulary words aside, we are still far from a revolution. Even the author believes that the emerging new ways to learn will likely change traditional schools in fits and starts, a bit at a time. However, these are trends well worth watching and exploring for their potential at your institution.
(This book is available at Barnes & Noble.)
About the reviewer: Kathy Kurz retired after 18 years as Vice President of Scannell & Kurz. Her area of expertise is developing strategic financial aid and retention programs designed to enhance enrollment and net tuition revenue results. She previously served as Associate Vice President at the University of Rochester and Director of Financial Aid at Earlham College.
Connect with Kathy on LinkedIn.