So after several months of negotiations I’m very excited to announce my next book.

The Edupunk’s Guide to a DIY Credential will be an e-book distributed free on the web in summer 2011.* The primary goal is to reach low-income students and potential students to help them find alternative paths to a credential using online and open resources.  The secondary goal is to reach educators and administrators interested in incorporating the latest technology, social media, and collaborative learning into their approaches in order to cut costs while improving learning, socialization, and accreditation both inside and outside the classroom.

I’m excited about doing something I didn’t get to do for DIY U, which is talk to learners. I’ve already interviewed about 35 learners from all walks of life, and plan to do over 100. In fact, earlier this week at Cal State-San Bernadino I met the mythical Patient Zero of online learning. Joseph is going to a state school to save money, majoring in Economics and getting perfect grades. He shows up to class only to take the tests, preferring to spend his time reading Michael Chabon and Jonathan Lethem novels and playing music. Instead he learns the material using MIT Open Courseware, TED Talks and Khan Academy. He even tutors and delights in pointing other students toward these open resources.

Here’s what I’d love to learn more about:
-Alternative higher ed programs, particularly for credentialing prior learning,  experiential learning, self-learning. I know about Excelsior. What else?

-Really smart HR people who are thinking about recruitment given the world of open learning.

-Really smart people I haven’t interviewed yet, who you think I should.

*For copyright nerds: I think I’m allowed to say here that this project is funded by the Gates Foundation. They will publish it © 2011 Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. However I also get my own separate “non-exclusive, fully-paid up, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide license” to “make, copy, use, modify, distribute and display the Guide,”  which I plan to grant others as well via CC-BY-SA. As astute commenters have pointed out, my current license doesn’t necessarily include the rights to grant a CC license to others. This is still in negotiation. What I can promise is that the guide will be distributed for free, and I’ll endeavor to make it available online in a format that will allow others to easily excerpt, comment on, and annotate it.

20 Responses to “Announcing my Next Project: The Edupunk’s Guide to a DIY Credential”

  1. Josh Baron says:

    This is really AWESOME! The topic is just right on in terms of the main issue that we need to address to drive real innovation in education. Can’t wait to read it!

    I delivered a keynote at the 2010 Campus Technology conference on the technologies that I believe are facilitating self-learning and what the future might hold if we can break through the credentialing barrier. You can view it at:

    I’m sure you’ll be familiar with most of the content but if you skip to the last 10 minutes I discuss a self learning journey my wife took as she changed careers over the past few years. You might find that interesting.

    In terms of your Tweet question…I don’t know of many who are doing this type of self-learner credentialing…Wester Governors is one example but I’m sure you’re already talking with them. I think you actually noted awhile back that Kaplan might be getting into this area…I would not be surprised if many of the for-profits consider it. The one other one there might be the American Public University System (APUS) who is Walmart’s preferred education provider and I believe they are credentialing some of the work their employees do. I can help connect you if needed.


  2. Eric Morey says:

    The license granted to you to distribute the work copyrighted by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation may not give to the right to grant licenses to others. It seems, from your description that you can distribute to others but the recipients are bound by copyright not to make copies with out permission from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

    Consult with a lawyer before you attempt to grant licenses to others.

  3. I agree, this is a great topic.

    Sorry for this bit of self-promotion, but I did write a couple of blog posts that talk about interesting employers promoting different flavors of DIY U:

  4. Anya Kamenetz says:

    Thanks Michael! Very helpful, I’ll be turning to you for more I’m sure.

  5. Adam says:

    For alternative higher ed options, be sure to talk to the folks at Goddard College, Long history of progressive education integrating prior learning, self-directed learning, and experiential learning. In fact that’s what the program is.

  6. Cheryl Reynolds says:

    I’ll be waiting for this zeitgeist publication with bated breath.

    Will you be considering whether the demise of the pedagogue in this new kind of learning might have any negative consequences? I’m not a fan of pedagogy at all but sometimes I challenge learners to do things they don’t want to do. I know it makes them uncomfortable but I do it because I know where they need to get to They don’t always see that until afterwards (ref. Zygotsky’s zone of proximal development).

    Is there a threat to this aspect of Education in new, entirely learne- led scenarios. Or not?

  7. Anya Kamenetz says:

    So helpful! Thank you so much!

  8. Hi Leigh
    I look forward to reading it. A timely book that ought to be very helpful for me out in the wilds of Japan. You, Sunshine and Eve have earned a place to crash, should you ever visit.

  9. Yikes! I think when I tweeted your post Anna, it adopted your title, making it appear as though it was me doing this! Sorry about that. Something to remember in your ‘reputation management’ :) For what its worth, I’m pursuing an “Open PhD” whereby I’ll be seeking formal accreditation when I think I meet the criteria of a formal PhD via open and networked channels. I blog this path on this tag:

  10. Josh Baron says:

    The OER University ( is a group that I wasn’t aware of until recently. You might want to check them out if you haven’t already, they seem to be moving towards some very interesting credentialing models.

  11. w grotophorst says:

    Do you ever wonder if you’ve taken the term EduPunk and turned it into something kinda gross?

  12. Anya Kamenetz says:

    here’s what I think (3rd comment down)

  13. Anya, this looks great!

    One thing. From the quotes, I don’t think the contract you signed gives you the right to relicense the work as CC:BY-SA. I am not a lawyer, but my day job is answering these questions for faculty at a large university.

    This work appears to be a work for hire. Thus, the default status is B&G Foundation holds all of the copyrights to the work. Because they chose to, they are granting you back certain specific rights. Those being the ones you listed. However, a right they did not list was the right to grant a license for the work to others.

    I would go back to them and ask explicitly if they give you permission to license the guide as CC:BY-SA because from the quotes you posted, you don’t have that right. A better solution would be to ask them to release their version of the guide as CC:BY-SA. The B&G foundation is hip to CC licenses in general and they may be up for it.

    Other than that, I’m looking forward to this guide!

  14. Anya Kamenetz says:

    good advice, thanks.
    One option that we’re considering is releasing a version of the guide in wiki format, so it can live on the web and be updated by readers.

  15. Mark Notess says:

    Glad to see your response to the started-cute-but-turned-weird (like my cat, incidentally) Dear Edupunk letter. And happy to hear about your ebook project. Reading your questions, I’m hoping that some of the people you’ve interviewed are non-really-smart (e.g., normal) people so that your book can show how Edupunk isn’t only for the outliers. I really look forward to hearing the learner stories.

  16. Credentials and accreditation in the same breath as ‘Edupunk’? You just don’t ‘get it’, do you?

  17. dkernohan says:

    “The secondary goal is to reach educators and administrators interested in incorporating the latest technology, social media, and collaborative learning into their approaches in order to cut costs while improving learning, socialization, and accreditation both inside and outside the classroom.”

    This stuff doesn’t cut costs for institutions – unless you mean that if we use social media and collaboration we can have less academic staff, or pay them less. The latest technology costs $$, as do talented, engaging and experimenting staff who “get it” enough to make real use of it. Improving learning (etc) yes, maybe.

    I may well write something about your use of “Edupunk” in the title later – I’ve been following the arguments but I’ve not settled my mind yet. Does strike me that it may not have been worth the aggro though, in as much as it constitutes a brand it is inextricably linked to Jim and his work. But, hell, you’re the journalist :-)

  18. Alan Davis says:

    Anna, a bit slow to react to this. Wonderful idea, and we look forward to the book. You really need to check us out at SUNY Empire State College: for 40 years we have been “New York’s open university”, using a mentored-learning model to do just what you have envisioned. The college was started, like Excelsior, to serve working adults, but all the good practices we have employed (credit for experiential learning, individualised programs and studies designed by the learner with her/his mentor, multiple modes of study from completely independent to study groups, face to face in 35 locations or online anywhere) turn out now to be increasingly useful for younger learners. We are affordable, pulic, and you get a SUNY degree.

    We are also in the OER university and are steaming ahead will all sorts of open projects that capitalize on the ubiquity of the web. Standby later this year for the launch of Open SUNY which will take all this to warp speed.

    Check out our website and let me know if I can be of any help. Love your work.

    Alan Davis, President

  19. Peter Hanley says:

    I’m late to the party, but I’ll throw in:

    The banner of punk has been claimed by a motley bunch – some great, some gross. For some it was a method of maintaining an ideological purity, for others it was a way to make a buck. The term ‘edupunk’ to me is like its snowclones: ‘cyberpunk’ ‘steampunk’ ‘whateverpunk’ – these evoke rebellion without necessarily entailing it, or maybe they simply evoke the semiotics of rebellion: ripped clothes, wild energy, fear of and violence toward the established order.

    My largest concern with the book from the parts I’ve read is that it seems to mistake learning for education. Learning is wonderful, and I’m glad the author has endorsed it so enthusiastically. But compare the “DIY learning plan” on page 10 to a syllabus or course plan, and the cracks begin to show.

    Part of the value of an education vs. DIY learning is that education is not all “things I admire” and reading a book every week, as much as it is confronting uncomfortable ideas & concepts, being challenged by the things outside of your current sphere of knowledge, and most importantly the constant rebuttal of “well that may be one way to look at it, but…” from people who have spent their life studying what you want to know and who are responsible for helping you learn it.

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