Thursday, October 8, 2009

Inbound: Re-Modeling the Model

Something about being four or five miles up in the sky leads to creative thinking, so please bear with these thoughts, which I wrote down on the plane from Vancouver to New York. By the way, the menu selection on Cathay Pacific trumps the offerings on most North American flights. Although, I have heard that I should give Virgin Atlantic a try.

In any case, here's a little riff for today, based on discussions in Seattle, and in Vancouver.

What is more valuable, the education, the diploma, or the student's interaction with the curriculum and his or her input in the teaching process?

Are traditional, non-profit higher ed institutions looking for a higher class of student, an achiever that has already achieved something before being invited into the system?

If this is the logic, then, what does the university purport to do for the society, and if the student is already a winner before the education, what does the education process actually mean for the student? Is the diploma actually just "a pass" into a higher level of participation in the society; is it a pass to a level that another student, equally productive at a lower level school, could accomplish but cannot because of his status before entrance into the university of choice or availability?

This seems to be a conundrum in place since the Victorian origination of American education -- you don't go to school to learn, you go to school to remember -- your place, your designation, your values. You go to school to travel laterally from one place to the same place, but with more skills. Your diploma acts as a legacy service, allowing you to continue at a certain level but to rarely rise above that socio-economic level.

Look at the horrible time students are having repaying loans. do you think a heavy debt burden helps them reach a better station in life? Not with all the defaults, it doesn't, so far as people can discern.

What if schools gave a much larger percentage of low-income students or low-performing students a shot at an education that is considered only for the higher achieving students? And what if they did that at a lower cost, with less of a debt burden, or at the very least, had classes that educated students about financing to offer them attractive options, less risky options, to perpetuate their usefulness in the working world?

There have got to be alternative systems of learning and financing that can maintain and promote the same capitalist system that we maintain today, but in a different way, adding more workers and executives to the system, but also providing more opportunities, globally, for more students, or potential students.

I don't know what different looks like right now, but people are thinking about it.

This blog is an attempt at that definition and an attempt to get others to look differently at that definition as much as it is an attempt to build a network of people who have precise experiences that can elucidate that construction and deconstruction, advance business and both profit from education as a business, and reward students for using that system.

The purpose of this blog is to advance the business of education.
There is nothing simpler than achieving or embarking on that mission. There is probably nothing as complicated as the implementation of the techniques that keep the industry on that mission.

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