College 2.0

College 2.0 June 15, 2010

The Chronicle of Higher Education has the story of Salman Khan, a 33-year-old who has uploaded over 1,400 educational videos to YouTube on various topics.  The videos were at first meant merely to tutor his faraway relatives, but they’ve gone viral, and he seems to have tapped into a growing disgruntlement with conventional higher educations.  And now, his experiment is paying off, literally:

Mr. Khan said that several people he had never met have made $10,000 contributions. And last month, Ann and John Doerr, well-known venture capitalists, gave $100,000, making it possible for Mr. Khan to give himself a small salary for the academy so he can spend less of his time doing consulting projects to pay his mortgage. Over all, he said, he’s collected about $150,000 in donations and makes $2,000 a month from ads on his Web site.

Some of us have been complaining about the lack of innovation in theological education for some time now.  And some of us have even tried to do something about it.  Nothing we’ve tried has quite gained the traction of Mr. Khan’s experiment, but some more ideas are on the table.

It will happen.  Education, it seems to me, is the next major aspect of our society that is on the precipice of a major social-media-catalyzed overhaul.

HT: Brian McLaren

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  • Gov. T-Paw is dialed in to this as well as he explains to Jon Stewart that students will be tuning into iCollege in 20 yrs.

    See him at the link below at min 4:44—tim-pawlenty-unedited-interview-pt–1

  • DRT

    Education is much different than certification. So in a society where the education is non-traditional, there may be new needs for certification since current college degrees accomplish both (you need the education and they certify the level of education attained).

    My oldest son is wondering why he can’t just skip college, have me set him up in his own business and let him learn from the public domain. I don’t have a really good answer, but clearly going to college teaches you more than what is learned through the teacher.


  • tom c.

    It does seem like we are in the middle of a major transition in higher education in the U.S., and I don’t have a good sense of how things will look on the other side. (It’s too hard to understand how presently unfolding events will conclude.) That said, I suspect that many institutions will continue down the path of greater professionalization of degree programs and of the gutting of the liberal arts (the two needn’t go together but I suspect this is the larger trend). Therefore, I am fearful that online education may be an additional means for frugal college and university administrators to lower costs.

    But I take it, Tony, that what you are discussing is a more fundamental transformation of the idea of education. Less formal, more incidental and idiosyncratic. Perhaps this is already much of the way that the web functions…

    I’m still fairly traditional about the idea of a college education, of which I would claim the liberal arts still (should) form the core. I don’t think the good that comes from a liberal education (note: lower-case “L”) can be (easily) quantified, but alongside the accumulation of knowledge related to one’s major discipline, I think it includes cultivating the capacity to read and think critically and to write effectively. With the right technological platform, I don’t see why knowledge or skills must be acquired in a physical classroom, but I’m not sure we’re there yet.

    I’m all for technological and institutional transformations that increase freedom, and this is no less the case in higher ed, but I am also concerned about how market forces will take advantage of the technologies in showing the liberal arts the door.

    • Tom,

      I, too, fear the loss of the liberal arts. And I noticed that Khan’s contributions were almost all in the hard sciences. Even my alma mater — Dartmouth College — is slipping in its commitment to the humanities, and it frightens me.