Icarus Redux
image via petervanallen / Flickr

“Type the word “student” into Google, and the first option that comes up in the 10-deep list of autocomplete suggestions is “student loans.” Third down is “student loan consolidation.” Keep going and you’ll pass “student loan forgiveness,” “student loan calculator,” “student loans without cosigner,” and something called “studentloan.com” before you hit bottom.” –Backstage.com article (quotes me on actors & student loan reform)

When you type “learn” into Google, the first autocomplete suggestion is “learn to fly.”

As a concept associated with education, I like that a hell of a lot better.

I am kind of surprised by how they packaged this: they called me in to talk about student loan reform, and I was really just speaking off the top of my head about for-profits. I think it’s because they were supposed to get Arne Duncan too, and he kept rescheduling on them.  I suspect politically the administration doesn’t want to show its hand on student loan reform because they are still trying to broker a deal to pass it through reconciliation. Or maybe Duncan was just too busy.

NPR: Allure of For-Profit Universities Grows.

Yesterday was just about the bestest book-launching experience an author could hope to have. My first time talking about DIY U and such enthusiastic reactions, from a great, diverse, knowledgeable crowd.

I told a story about a road trip I had taken along the Pacific coast, first speaking to University of California chancellor Charles Reed who told me “In 40 years in higher ed, I have never witnessed a meltdown such as the one we are currently experiencing,” and “This is the end of the Master Plan in California.” Then in Los Altos, CA at Foothill Community College, meeting with Judy Baker of the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources who talked about taking faculty by the hand and spreading the gospel of sharing and remixing, to save time, improve teaching and benefit students. And finally driving down to Mexico with Paul Kim of the Pocket School project, exploring radical models for learner-centered, location-independent education.  (I have to thank my incredibly talented storyteller friend Martin Dockery for tutoring me in preparing for the presentation.)

One professor raised her hand and essentially said, I want to be part of this revolution–this Rebel Alliance of teachers who understand the new way. Where do I begin?

I had a conversation with Doug Freeman and Amy of Classhive this morning about the idea of trying to start some kind of social network assisting the members of this DIY U community in finding each other—helping educational entrepreneurs find professors and classrooms to user-test their products, for example, or allowing students to compare notes about how technology is being used in their school. Are you interested in this idea? Do you think Ning is the right platform, or are there other better ideas?

In the past week I have discovered a new mode of communication: the video blog. (My friend, sex educator Jamye Waxman is a mistress of the form).

Here’s 2 minutes from a Q&A I did with George Haines, an educational tech consultant who I met over Twitter. Ironically, it’s about the pros and cons of distance learning, and it is demonstrating a “con”–technical difficulty of the Skype video not being lined up with the audio, so it’s better to listen to than to watch it.

And here’s a 3-minute video I shot through my webcam for the folks at SxGenY, giving some thoughts off the top of my head about Gen Y in the workforce.

I’ll be doing a webinar next month and then later hopefully a whole web video series so I’m trying to build up my skills a bit so I don’t flick my eyes around or flip my hair or do other stuff that’s so distracting on a small screen.

Thanks to educational futurists Norm Friesen and Stephen Downes for responding so thoughtfully to DIY U on their blogs. (I spoke to Downes for the book, as he notes, and saw Friesen at the OpenEd conference in Vancouver last August.)

I was amused to read that the picture I’m painting of the future of higher ed strikes them as “moderate.” I’m preparing for the opposite reaction from the public at large, and in my mind, it’s pretty radical. It’s just that I think change can be absolutely profound without being total. You don’t have to institute a 10-day week to mark the fact that you’re doing business differently.

ps: an article I wrote for Fast Company that is partly drawn from the book won second place in a contest.

I sent out an email this week to all 3700 people in my Google contacts, letting them know that they could pre-order DIY U. from Amazon. I got amazing messages back from long-lost friends, relatives, and this note from Richard Stallman, who I interviewed once for a story, which I am sharing with you in the name of free software:

It is not good to buy books from Amazon, because that means Big
Brother knows what books you bought.  Likewise, it is not good to
recommend that people buy anything from Amazon: some people might DO
it (although I never would).

(You can also pre-order directly from the publisher, or from your local independent bookstore.)

That aside, I really, really appreciate everyone’s feedback and encouragement. People say writing is solitary work but the support you get from a community of readers and family and friends at a moment like this is truly tremendous. Two of my best friends are a public school principal and a family court lawyer, and I wish I had more opportunities to publicly cheer them on the way people have been doing for me.

So….Thank You!

Online learning has been growing much faster than traditional enrollment for at least six years, and almost one in four college students now takes at least one class online. This can be great news for students, but only if institutions take advantage of the latest research in designing online courses, and — a bigger if — if they pass the savings on to students.

Read the rest at the New York Times’ Room for Debate blog, and let me know what you think!

Chronicle of Higher Ed

pic via America's Promise

One in three students drop out of high school. America’s Promise, the campaign that hosted Obama today, says just 12 percent of the nation’s high schools generate half of the nation’s dropouts.

Obama proposals such as early-college high school and dual enrollment are based on evidence that high school students will be more motivated to stay in school and finish if they see that their classes are related to a valuable credential and to jobs. The more straitened circumstances that students are in, the more important the economic motive for further education.

I’m a bigger fan of dual enrollment and career academies than early college, because I like the idea of students having a right to free public education that connects them to jobs.

However, if we don’t stop underfunding our community colleges, creating new programs isn’t going to get any more students through them. California’s community college enrollment dropped by 1 percent this year thanks to budget cuts.