This is the first time I’ve put up a set of slides for DIY U on Slideshare, an omission which obviously violates the principles of intellectual openness that I go around promoting. The reasons I would give for not doing it until now would be the same that any professor would give, I imagine: that the presentation is a work in progress, updated and changed slightly for every speech I give; that nevertheless, for the pieces that stay similar from speech to speech, I don’t want audiences to feel that they’re getting something stale from me; that even though I know audiences are coming to hear me, not a Powerpoint deck, I still worry about diminishing the value of my presentation.
But the arguments for doing it are far more powerful: I can get feedback and improve; It may serve as a form of promotion; and most importantly it gives people who aren’t able to hear me speak the opportunity to see a little bit of what DIY U is about.

Since I haven’t blogged here in a while (i’ve been blogging like crazy at, first from TED, followed by SXSW) I have another note today: a 300-word statement in the New York Times Room for Debate. The question was: should we focus on career-oriented majors or the liberal arts? My response in part:

…while math, science and engineering are great — and there’s an argument to be made that technological skills constitute a new form of basic literacy for meaningful participation in society — it would be foolish to advocate a single, centrally mandated curriculum as the path to prosperity.

What’s needed most are a set of educational practices — whether in the context of the traditional liberal arts, a technical program, or something in between — that empower students to seek knowledge independently, to collaborate, follow their passions and to connect their knowledge with the real world.

Amusingly, originally the editor got back to me and said “We took off the last graf because it seemed like a diversion into a different topic.” I wrote back, via my phone, and said “My comments stand as a whole. You asked what people should study–liberal arts vs. technical subjects. My answer is that it’s more important HOW we study than WHAT we study.”

I’m glad they decided to run it as I wrote it.

2 Responses to “My Latest Presentation; A Little Piece in the Times”

  1. Steve from Halifax says:

    I was in the audience at Summit while you delivered this presentation and I am just reviewing my notes and realized you must have captivated me as I wrote very little that was legible. I’m employed in the IT field and I truly feel that IT is the new literary key to success; Shakespeare had his day!

    As a student about to finish an arts undergrad degree, I think there needs to be an emphasis placed on HOW rather than WHAT we learn as well. I’ll freely admit that I have forgotten most of what I was taught, but I will always remember how to learn and that is what education is really about.

    As a parent of two boys that will both be finishing k-12 in the next few years, the fear of oppressive debt loads for my children is crippling. I plan to explore DIY U options with them and I think there is a clear path which will lead to a better understanding of HOW to learn. You stated that higher ed schools needs to end the “amenity competition” and I agree. (Spend more resources on the learning process, rather than trimming the ivy)

    Summit was a great conference, but only appealed to my professional senses, Anya, you were able to appeal to my human senses as an individual and parent. Wonderful message, wonderful delivery and I hope you are able to deliver your message to more people before they fall into Generation Debt.

  2. Mitrik Spanner says:

    I imagined the diy U concept years ago, believing that information technology would make it possible. I was disheartened at the slow rate of progress. Your book was a real eyeopener. It looks like things are finally starting to take off. Of the three main models in this game, the old-line institutions, the for-profits and the free/open source. I’m pulling for the latter.

    BTW – I was a student in De Anza/Foothill in the early ’90s. It was nice, clean, well-lighted institution where you could easily and cheaply get your lower division credits and move on, but the academic rigor was low, low, low. I saw it as daycare center for young adults with the California taxpayer picking up the tab.

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