The End of College: Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere

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9781594634048: The End of College: Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere

From a renowned education writer comes a fascinating examination of the rapidly shifting world of college that every parent, student and educator needs to understand.

In 2011-2012, some of the world's most famous universities and technology entrepreneurs began a revolution in higher education. College courses that had been kept from all but an elite few were released to students around the world -- for free. And thanks to exploding tuition prices, a volatile global economy and some high-tech innovations, we're now poised for a total rethinking of what college is and should be. In the NEW YORK TIMES-bestselling THE END OF COLLEGE, Kevin Carey draws on new research to paint an exciting portrait of the near future of education. He explains how the college experience is being radically altered now and how it will emancipate millions of people around the world. Insightful and readable, THE END OF COLLEGE is an innovative roadmap to understanding tomorrow's higher education today.

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About the Author:

Kevin Carey directs the Education Policy Program at the New America Foundation. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The New Republic, The Washington Post and elsewhere. He lives with his family in Washington, D.C.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:


   · The Secret of Life
   · A Sham, a Bauble, a Dodge
   · The Absolut Rolex Plan
   · Cathedrals
   · Learning Like Alexander
   · Thunder Lizards
   · Anything for Anyone, Anywhere
   · Imaginary Harvard and Virtual MIT
   · Less Like a Yacht
   · Open Badges
   · The Weight of Large Numbers
   · Your Children and the University of Everywhere

1

The Japanese television crew and excitable LA producer were the first signs that something unusual was happening at MIT.

It was a warm evening in April, barely a week after a pair of mad bombers had terrorized the city of Boston and shot a campus security guard dead in front of Building 46, the glass-and-stone complex I was standing inside. Most colleges name their structures after wealthy donors. MIT likes to keep things rational, so when the Brain and Cognitive Sciences Complex was completed in 2005, the administration just gave it the next number in line. As I walked through the building’s ninety-foot-high atrium toward a nearby lecture hall, I recognized many of the students who had, like me, spent much of the last semester learning about genetics from one of the smartest people in the world.

Introduction to Biology—The Secret of Life is a mandatory course for all MIT freshmen. It’s taught by a professor named Eric Lander, who is a walking advertisement for the triumphs of American higher education. Born in the working-class Flatlands neighborhood of Brooklyn, Lander tested into Stuyvesant High, an elite New York City public school, where he discovered an aptitude for math. From there it was a rapid climb up the ladder of academic meritocracy: International Math Olympiad, Princeton valedictorian at age twenty, Rhodes Scholarship, Harvard professorship, MacArthur “Genius” award.

But unlike some of his monastic colleagues, Eric Lander was a sociable person with eclectic intellectual tastes. Pure mathematics were beautiful and thrilling, but they were also a solitary pursuit. Lander liked to interact with other smart people and dive into whole new fields. First he switched from exploring math to teaching economics at Harvard Business School. Then a connection with an MIT biologist led him to the field that would become his calling: uncovering the mysteries of genetics. Lander led the Human Genome Project, which created the historic first complete sequence of human DNA. He went on to cochair President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and found a multidisciplinary medical research center. When the Boston Globe listed the 150 most important things ever done at MIT, Lander and his work ranked second, after the guy who invented the World Wide Web.

Lander is also a very good teacher. Many great scholars are inept in the classroom. Their intense, internal focus works against them when it comes to forming connections with students. Lander is outgoing, personable, and almost as good at lecturing as he is at discovering new ways to unravel the meaning of human DNA. As I entered the lecture hall where his class would take place, a group of freshmen had already staked out seats in the front row. One, a young woman named Abbey, was standing expectantly by her desk, holding a cupcake in a plastic box. Abbey grew up in a suburb of Salt Lake City. Her father said he would only pay for her to attend two colleges other than Brigham Young: Harvard and MIT. So she aced her college boards and made the trip to Cambridge, Massachusetts. As Lander reached his lectern, she walked up to him, face flushing, and gave him the cupcake. “Happy anniversary!” she said, before quickly turning back to her seat. Because of this class, she later told me, she plans to major in chemical and biological engineering.

I settled into a seat in the back row, flipped up the desk, and pulled out my study materials. After two months of watching Lander lecture, my class notebook was almost full. We had begun with the building blocks of biochemistry before proceeding on a long voyage of intellectual discovery, through Mendelian genetics, Crick and Watson’s double helix, and the modern age of biotechnology. Lander used a storyteller’s flair for drama as he worked through complex explanations of biochemistry, genetic mutation, and RNA transcription. When his tales reached a point of crucial discovery (often involving a Nobel Prize awarded to one of his MIT colleagues), you could see sparks of enthusiasm in his eyes—even from the last row.

After each lecture, my fellow students and I would retreat to our laptops to tackle MIT’s famously challenging “problem sets,” exercises meant to test and solidify the knowledge we had gained in class. I found myself staying up late at night, trying to make sense of RNA base pair chains and a list of stop codons, restriction enzymes, and plasmids. But I could always ask other students or teaching assistants for help—MIT encourages this—and I eventually made it through the assignments. At the end of the semester, I passed the two midterms and the final with a respectable 87 percent average. In exchange, MIT gave me an official university document certifying that I had completed Introduction to Biology—The Secret of Life.

Yet I was not, and never have been, an MIT undergraduate. I did not fill out a college application or financial aid form or write a personal essay explaining why my life-altering experience founding a shelter for homeless marmots made me uniquely qualified to attend MIT. In fact, until that evening, I had never set foot on the MIT campus in my life. Nor did I pay MIT any tuition, which runs over $42,000 per year, plus another $15,000 for books, fees, and room and board. The entire Secret of Life course—lectures, problem sets, class forums, exams, and certificate—was totally free.

And I wasn’t the only one. At the same time, all around the world, tens of thousands of other students were taking The Secret of Life for free. There were doctors and medical students from South America, a group of high schoolers in Greece, a seventy-two-year-old retired chemist living in the Netherlands, a Sri Lankan college dropout, a full-time homemaker in India, a Ukrainian software engineer, and a nurse in the Philippines. One young woman wrote on the class message board, “My dad is letting me take this instead of my regular 8th grade science. I am 13 years old.” Most of them had never been to the United States and could not imagine experiencing, or affording, an elite American education. But they were, in most of the ways that mattered, doing exactly that.

That’s why, throughout Lander’s lecture that evening, a small team of camera operators from Japan’s NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) television network prowled the sides and back of the lecture hall, shooting a news documentary under the direction of a California-based TV producer eager to get shots of Lander and his students at work. It’s also why the Japanese camera techs had to work around an entirely different production crew that was also in the room, filming Lander from a variety of angles in digital HD.

The class was being produced by a brand-new online educational organization jointly run by MIT and Harvard University. For the better part of the last 150 years, those two institutions have sat, less than two miles apart, at the zenith of global higher education. They are bitter rivals for the world’s best scholars and students. Yet they had, in this time and place, decided to put their rivalries aside.

This unlikely collaboration came about because higher education now stands at the brink of transformation by information technology. Harvard and MIT are accelerating seismic forces that threaten colleges that have stood, largely unchanged, for decades or more. These historic developments will liberate hundreds of millions of people around the world, creating ways of learning that have never existed before. They will also upend a cornerstone of the American meritocracy, fundamentally altering the way our society creates knowledge and economic opportunity.

Whether they know it or not, Harvard and MIT are helping to build a new and unprecedented institution: the University of Everywhere.

The University of Everywhere is where students of the future will go to college. Parts of it will be familiar to anyone who’s gotten a great college education, because some aspects of human learning are eternal. But in many respects, it will be like nothing that has come before.

At the University of Everywhere, educational resources that have been scarce and expensive for centuries will be abundant and free. Anything that can be digitized—books, lecture videos, images, sounds, and increasingly powerful digital learning environments—will be available to anyone in the world with an Internet connection.

The idea of “admission” to college will become an anachronism, because the University of Everywhere will be open to everyone. It won’t, in fact, be a single place or institution at all. The next generation of students will not waste their teenage years jostling for spots in a tiny number of elitist schools. Their educational experience will come from dozens of organizations, each specializing in different aspects of human learning.

The University of Everywhere will span the earth. The students will come from towns, cities, and countries in all cultures and societies, members of a growing global middle class who will transform the experience of higher education.

These students will be educated in digital learning environments of unprecedented sophistication. The University of Everywhere will solve the basic problem that has bedeviled universities since they were first invented over a millennium ago: how to provide a personalized, individual education to large numbers of people at a reasonable price. The intense tutorial education that has historically been the province of kings and princes will be available to anyone in the world.

That personalization will be driven by advances in artificial intelligence and fueled by massive amounts of educational data. Information about student learning will be used to continually adapt and improve people’s educational experience based on their unique strengths, needs, flaws, and aspirations.

The University of Everywhere will not be devoid of people, however. In fact, learners and educators will be all around us. The new digital learning environments will be designed by education engineers collaborating across organizations and cultures, sharing insights and tools in a way that far surpasses what any single college professor can accomplish alone. Students will be part of rich global communities as small as a half dozen people working intently together and as large as millions of students contending with timeless questions and monuments of human thinking at the same time.

Learning at the University of Everywhere will be challenging. There will be no more “gentleman’s Cs,” no grade inflation, no more slacking through late adolescence in a haze, confident that social connections and inertia will see you through. Standards of excellence will rise to the highest common denominator of the most talented and motivated students in the world. The new digital learning environments will be designed to stimulate the kind of sustained hard work that authentic education always requires.

Traditional college credentials, based on arbitrary amounts of time spent in obsolete institutions, will fade into memory. Instead of four-year bachelor’s degrees and two-year associate’s degrees, students will accumulate digital evidence of their learning throughout their lives, information that will be used to get jobs, access new educational opportunities, and connect with other learners. People will control their personal educational identities instead of leaving that crucial information in the hands of organizations acting from selfish interests.

Enrollment in the University of Everywhere will be lifelong, a fundamental aspect of modern living. Instead of checking into a single college for a few years on the cusp of adulthood, people will form relationships with learning organizations that last decades based on their personal preferences, circumstances, and needs. Unlike today, belonging to a learning organization will not involve massive expenses and crippling amounts of debt.

Some of those organizations will have the names of colleges and universities that we know today. Traditional institutions that move quickly and adapt to the opportunities of information technology will become centers of learning in the networked University of Everywhere. Those that cannot change will disappear. The story of higher education’s future is a tale of ancient institutions in their last days of decadence, creating the seeds of a new world to come.

I SIGNED UP FOR The Secret of Life because I was both intensely curious and increasingly fearful about the future of American higher education. As a child, I was immersed in traditional university life. My father was a PhD computer scientist who taught at a large public university in Connecticut. While raising three children, my mother got her doctorate in education from the same institution. There was never a question of whether I would follow them to college, only where I would enroll.

Fortunately, a middle-class family in the late 1980s could still send their children to a good public university without breaking the bank. A scholarship helped cover tuition at a selective state school in New York, and I emerged four years later with a bachelor’s degree and a clear path in front of me. Some of my peers came from well-off families while others were first-generation students from single-parent, working-class households. In all my time there I never once heard the words “student loan.”

But as I grew older and began to study America’s education system in depth, it became clear that the affordable college of my youth was a historical relic. Colleges in the United States have become, by a wide margin, the most expensive in the world. Since I first enrolled, inflation-adjusted tuition at public universities has more than tripled, rising much faster than the average family income. The only way parents and students have been able to make up the difference is debt. By 2004, Americans owed nearly $250 billion in student loans, which at the time was considered to be an alarming sum. By comparison, outstanding credit card debt then stood at $700 billion, the hangover of a ravenous consumer culture with a taste for easy credit.

Over the next eight years, student loan debt quadrupled, passing $1 trillion, leaving credit cards in the dust. The share of twenty-five-year-olds with student loans increased by 60 percent. In the early 1990s, most undergraduates were able to avoid borrowing entirely. By 2012, 71 percent of students graduated with an average debt of nearly $30,000. Leaving school with swollen loans during the worst economic crisis in generations, many students found they couldn’t afford the monthly payment...

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Descripción Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2016. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Revised. Language: English . Brand New Book. From a renowned education writer comes a fascinating examination of the rapidly shifting world of college that every parent, student and educator needs to understand. In 2011-2012, some of the world s most famous universities and technology entrepreneurs began a revolution in higher education. College courses that had been kept from all but an elite few were released to students around the world -- for free. And thanks to exploding tuition prices, a volatile global economy and some high-tech innovations, we re now poised for a total rethinking of what college is and should be. In the NEW YORK TIMES-bestselling THE END OF COLLEGE, Kevin Carey draws on new research to paint an exciting portrait of the near future of education. He explains how the college experience is being radically altered now and how it will emancipate millions of people around the world. Insightful and readable, THE END OF COLLEGE is an innovative roadmap to understanding tomorrow s higher education today. Nº de ref. de la librería ABZ9781594634048

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