DIY-U: Chapter 1: History

Semi-random notes. Not fully baked…

If we all want something better than what we have/had for our children, this is akin to unrestricted growth. At some point, we need to plateau (or descend again, as population continues to increase…) – 1% higher ed enrolment in the US in the 1800s, up to nearly everyone attending some form of higher ed now…

“Professionalization” of occupations – formation of boards and bureaucracies to determine who is “qualified” to practice an occupation – may be a nice segue from straight institution-granted accreditation. Guilds? Apprenticeships? How do these concepts adapt from the trades to more “white collar” academic subjects?

The way she describes the history of higher education institutions in the US (and, I’m assuming, in other Western countries) sounds an awful lot like a real estate bubble. Speculators grab some land, hype it, sell it, then need to find more land and hype (manipulate media to artificially foster need…) that even more to keep buyers coming. Repeat until mortgage crisis…

IS (subsidized) access to higher education a right? (says the guy in the middle of a subsidized graduate degree program…) I need to unpack this a bit. I totally see the value of higher ed, but is it a right? We can agree that K12 education is a right. If access to higher ed. is a right, then we need to find/make a way to get to 100% enrolment and 100% graduation. If it’s not, then we need to figure out what the real need is, and adjust our resources and demands accordingly.

Too often they scaled up by watering down, depending increasingly on large lecture courses and part-time instructors.” - this is the reality of modern universities as well. BUT, how would this look in a DIY model? Scaling classes up to what we’ve seen in Massively Open Courses – with hundreds or thousands of participants – could water things down even further. Or reverse the process? Would universal access to whatever becomes of education fix the dumbing-down?

If the problem with “lowering the bar” to admission (by state universities and community colleges as part of the Massive Expansion of Higher Education), how will this look in a DIY model where there may be no bars at all? With no barriers to entry, we obviously need to rethink how to frame an “education” in a way that we all understand. Is it just “I read a bunch of websites, and did some stuff, and then earned some form of accreditation” or is it something else?

Gatekeeping serves an important role when resources are limited. It also serves to raise the perceived reputation of an institution. With no gatekeeping, what happens? Everybody gets a Harvard education? It then becomes meaningless. Similarly for higher ed. in general. If everyone has degrees and diplomas, will we need to create some new higher goal for elite academic performers? Super degrees?

Students as resigned pragmatists? Not sure I see that, but if so, how does this affect things? Shifting to DIY-U would need some pretty radicalized students, balanced with pragmatism. How to foster that?

Education as a means to get power – power is only effective when there is a differential or gradient. When you have more than others. What happens if we blow up the institutions and shift to DIY-U? Are the gradients and differentials removed? I doubt it. But, how are they reconstructed?

3 thoughts on “DIY-U: Chapter 1: History”

  1. > If we all want something better than what we have/had for our children, this is akin to unrestricted growth. At some point, we need to plateau (or descend again, as population continues to increase…) – 1% higher ed enrolment in the US in the 1800s, up to nearly everyone attending some form of higher ed now…

    This is the basic dogma of capitalism. You will find it at every avenue and the basis of it is the idea that quality of life will forever increase through capitalism. It’s the same idea that’s destroying the environment right now.

    > The way she describes the history of higher education institutions in the US (and, I’m assuming, in other Western countries) sounds an awful lot like a real estate bubble. Speculators grab some land, hype it, sell it, then need to find more land and hype (manipulate media to artificially foster need…) that even more to keep buyers coming. Repeat until mortgage crisis…

    Yes, that’s capitalism itself; not just the real estate industry.

    I think Drupal community and business it spawned is a great example of it. DIY industry creation in fact, not just education. Most of the people participating are self-employed and self-educated by other people in the community that donate their time to write documentation. They have to market their services to potential consumers and if they get a sale they do the work and the money is transferred.

    > If the problem with “lowering the bar” to admission (by state universities and community colleges as part of the Massive Expansion of Higher Education), how will this look in a DIY model where there may be no bars at all?

    Yup, Drupal community. Everyone has potentially the same knowledge. It shows through the products that you produce.

    > Guilds? Apprenticeships? How do these concepts adapt from the trades to more “white collar” academic subjects?

    In the Drupal community we have talked about both and they have been seen as a way for corporations to appropriate money rather than really add value. So for the most part they have been dismissed. Some companies offer training materials, but there is no accreditation and doesn’t seem like there ever will be. Caveat emptor; but how much can you trust accreditation anyway?

    Ultimately, the value that you are talking about is the apparent value that a corporation derives out of looking at an accreditation. In the real world, customers don’t care how the work is done and by whom; they just want the work done. Corporations don’t really care either, but we have created a rat race which really has nothing to do with the work and everything to do with the social and class structure (or at least that was the idea until globalisation killed it) — an institution that’s taken on a life of its own.

    So how is differentiation reconstitute, the same way it is for any company. What have you done so far, what can do for us, and how much can do you it for… So everyone becomes a small self-employed company offering services. The matriculation is work done so far.

    1. What are the other implications? No benefits. No steady pay. You are always left chasing the next contract. A global networked nomad always looking for work. Everyone needs some business acumen. Potentially less discretionary income. Overall it’s better to be in Canada where we have healthcare than in the US where you will spend a huge portion of your yearly check on it… while having to pay for a huge military.

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