(One of the features in the Drumbeat book will be a series of how-tos. One of the biggest “how-tos” in the book will be

how-to: Create a Drumbeat Festival. Here’s my first draft, for your feedback, especially if you were at the fest: )

how-to: Create a Drumbeat Festival.
purpose: start solving problems together and build a broader movement for change.
difficulty: Difficult, but fun.
who: 40 to 1000 people with different skills and interests including group facilitators. A mix of idea people and hands-on people, seasoned leaders and eager beginners. Drumbeat Festival 2010 featured 430 participants, including 40 volunteers, from 40 countries and 30+ participating organizations.
Time: 9 months to plan; 2 - 4 days to pull off.
materials: Space (for example the MACBA, FAD, courtyard and surrounding cafes, restaurants and tapas bars of Barcelona’s Raval district). Whiteboards. Laptops. Markers. Post-it notes. Wifi. Coffee. Pastries. Wine.
Step 1: Identify broad themes of shared, vital concern for all participants, ie Learning, Freedom, and the Web.
Step 2: Invite “space wranglers” to host spaces or “tents” relating to 1, 2, or all 3 of the main themes. Each should be dedicated to prototyping, designing, and creating solutions.
Step 3: Adopt Allen Gunn (“Gunner’s”) model for group faciliation, informed by the civil-disobedience training of the Ruckus Society and other left-wing organizing and consensus-based models.
  • Step 3a: “A bunch of people sitting and listening to one person talk is one step below a crime against humanity.” Minimize plenary sessions to “take the head off the event.”
  • Step 3b: “focus on respect” for all participants, volunteers, organizers. “If you are the most knowledgeable your job is to do the most listening.”
  • Step 3c: “focus on jargon” to make the dialogue as accessible as possible. Attempt to make translation available.
  • Step 3d: “Love-bomb” participants whenever appropriate with clapping and cheering. Conversely, make one person a designated “lightning rod” for complaints so negative energy is channeled constructively.
Step 4: For scheduling, draw on free-form “bar camps” and “unconferences” popular in the web community. Include open sessions with agendas defined by participants. Make the schedule an updatable-in-real-time wiki and/or eraseable whiteboard.
Step 5: Give each space a deadline to present results to the group at the end of the festival. Support those who want to join a team or continue working on a project, and publicize their efforts.
Step 6: Celebrate and document!
Tips and tricks: ???
How will you know when you've succeeded:???

As mentioned before, a major component of the Drumbeat Learning, Freedom, and the Web book will be how-tos that people can use in their own learning situations (classrooms, workshops, online book clubs, whatever).

For example: How to adopt an open textbook; how to play with Arduino; how to create and award a badge; and even how to start a Drumbeat festival.
What are the basic components of a how-to? After looking at Instructables, Make magazine, Howcast videos, and other sources online, here’s what I”ve come up with:

1) Some indicators of the degree of difficulty, potential hazards, category of the how-to, and the time it takes. Symbols are helpful

2) Materials/tools needed.

3) Step by step instructions.

Anything I’m leaving out?

Me, Mark Surman, Ben Moskowitz (via Skype) and Chris Appleton

So I flew up to snowy Toronto to spend all day yesterday at Mozilla’s offices in a design sprint for our Learning, Freedom and the Web book. I’d never been part of a “design sprint” before so I didn’t really know what to expect, but luckily our awesome designer Chris Appleton took charge and it turned out to be really fun and productive to boot! Basically we spent the entire day going over each page of the manuscript from a conceptual to a nuts and bolts level–identifying key concepts, looking at the Flickr pool for ideas, and sacrificing many Post-it notes in the process. Here’s some of our take-homes:

  • Learning, Freedom, and the Web is about verbs, not nouns; solutions, not problems.
  • We think there’s a huge silent (or not-so-silent) majority of educators out there who see the need for these kinds of changes in the world of education. We’d love for this book to be a rallying cry–a “hallway-waver” in Mark Surman’s words, something that people hold up to say “This is what I have been talking about!”
  • With that in mind, a major recurring feature of each chapter is going to be how-tos. We won’t just explain the Badge Lab; we’ll give a few steps to show you how to get students to award badges in your classroom.  Some DIY inspiration: Make Magazine, Instructables, Epicurious, and Fifty Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Children Do.

There’s also going to be a meta-how-to element where we explain how to put a Drumbeat-style festival together.

What do you think about the How-To idea? What needs to be included to make this actually useful?

I want to thank everyone from the community who’s provided feedback so far, and to let you know that there are two upcoming opportunities to get involved.

  1. We’ll be having community design/edit sprint phone calls on Thurs Feb. 3 and Thurs Feb. 24 at 7 pm ET.  We’ll be going over specific chapters in each call, TBA. If your project or group is represented, we’d especially like to get your feedback/buy-in and we’ll be reaching out to you. Ben Moskowitz is in the process of putting the manuscript up on a public Etherpad, so anyone can check it out at any time.
  2. Right now: Nominate images for inclusion in the book! Go to this Etherpad and add links from Flickr or blogs to images you like, or email me with files.

Happy Holidays!

New revised version, love to get your take, and thanks again for everyone’s fabulous comments so far. They have been extremely helpful.

Barcelona, Fall 2010:
Learning and the Web. Two powerful forces of change converge in a public square. Their dimensions are unpredictable, and many of the outcomes of their convergence will be unintended, but this experiment is not entirely uncontrolled. Like Doc and Marty McFly in Back to the Future, the team has calculated the likely conditions, wired in all the right connections. When lightning strikes, we’ll be ready.
Learning: The natural process of acquiring knowledge and mastery.

Change rumbles like a seismic wave from the basements of the ivory tower, and the schoolhouse down your block. The demand for access to both existing and new models of learning is rising as uncontrollably as the average temperature throughout the globe. The traditional educational ecosystem is edging toward collapse. Fifty million university students in 2000 will grow to 250 million by 2025. The graph of educational costs is a hockey stick–headed straight up. Four hundred million children around the world have no access to school at all. No country in the world has a plan to fix this.
Meanwhile, informal learning–the kind we do all day every day, as long as our eyes are open and we’re not in school–is going through a Cambrian explosion in hackerspaces, libraries, museums, basements and garages all over the world. “How to” is one of the top searches on Google. YouTube hosts millions of videos that can teach you to deliver a baby or solve a Rubik’s cube. An entire generation of Web geeks is functioning more or less self-taught, because traditional curricula can’t keep up with the skills they need.
Which brings us to the second vector, arcing overhead–an invisible mesh of electrical signals that connect the people in this square to each other and to the world. Otherwise known as the web.

The Web: a system of languages, standards, and practices held in common that allow people to invent, access, connect, and bend things in the digital world.

Since its birth 25 years ago in a nuclear research lab in Switzerland, the web has grown beyond the grasp of the most hyperbolic metaphor and the expectations of the most rabid futurist (not that they don’t try). It’s more than fulfilled the promise that Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Caillou wrote in introducing their creation: “The World-Wide Web was developed to be a pool of human knowledge, and human culture, which would allow collaborators in remote sites to share their ideas and all aspects of a common project.” Today, 240 million unique sites are accessed by 1.75 billion people around the world; 35 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube, the most popular video site, every minute. The creation of wealth, beauty and human connection is ongoing on an unprecedented scale.

As more and more of us live, work, create, socialize, shop, bank, and, yes, learn online, the web gets stronger. Today the architects of the web are increasingly drawing the parameters of private and public life, and often for corporate profit rather than public benefit. The very principle that makes the web so vast and so powerful–the open structure, held in common, that allows anyone to access and contribute–is under threat as never before. The response is to assert our freedom.

Freedom: the intellectual, creative, political, or economic ability to access, create and remix knowledge–basic to learning, and the basis of the web.

Beyond the realm of hackers, programmers and developers, who are the natural allies of this kind of freedom? Who else believes in openness, innovation, sharing, remixing, participation by all? Who can be convinced to fight for it?
There are many possible answers to that question: journalists, artists, filmmakers, political activists. But the decision to start the Drumbeat by rallying the avant-garde of teachers and learners was by no means arbitrary. There is alchemy in the meanings and meetings of Learning, Freedom, and the Web.
LearningXFreedom: Education is civilization. Human culture can neither perpetuate or evolve without it. “Learning” is education plus freedom. It challenges authority by putting the learner first. Result: accelerated evolution.

FreedomXWeb: The Web requires freedom: transparent, remixable, innovative, accountable, public domain. View Source means you can see how it’s made and get your hands dirty fixing it.

WebXLearning: Their fundamental shared missions: To connect people across time, place, all barriers; to make available all human knowledge.

LearningXFreedomXWeb Learning gets more agile, more active, more participatory, more like the web. The web discovers its public mission and its place in human history. Everyone gets to invent their own end to the story.
Beautiful future(s), but a lot of hard work. Which is fortunate, because working and creating together is, generally speaking, the best way to form relationships, to build communities, and even to learn.

So here’s the complete Drumbeat formula for catching lightning: throw together educators and techies, both committed to innovation in the public interest; guzzle coffee, snarf tapas, chat and make friends; but also actually make stuff using open-source technology. The design brief is to develop new tools and practices that can supplement, optimize, and/or replace the traditional trappings of the education system, from diplomas and textbooks to lectures and lesson plans–the better to serve learners’ needs for learning, socialization, and accreditation in open-source fashion. And amidst the code sprints, why not write a wish list too: What tools remain to be developed to allow learners of all ages to form the questions that are most salient to them, find the answers they need, build skills, and present themselves for a community’s stamp of approval? What allies and teams need to be formed to make these things happen?

And thus, if successful, the agenda of two days becomes the manifest of a much greater voyage: A call for all those who care to spread Webcraft literacy, to learn by making stuff together, to keep the Web free by making it ourselves, to shape society through more democratic design, to pull learning out of the 15th or 19th century and into the 21st, to find strength in diversity, and to think critically about–and tell joyful stories about–all this doing and building and learning and making and sharing, the better to get more people involved.
So lightning struck the clock tower, two worldviews faced each other in a public square, and Drumbeat was born.
Or in the opening-night words of Mark Surman, director of Mozilla Foundation and Drumbeat’s visionary, as he shouted over the crowd, cheeks shining with sweat, in the high, echoey atrium of Barcelona’s Museum of Contemporary Art, “The future of the web and future of learning are intertwining. People here are creating that future.”

That’s what Enric Senabre Hidalgo is calling PliegOS.
“a simple sheet of paper that once folded turns into a microbook (a real pocket-size one, indeed). It only needs a printer, a little do-it-yourself and an average 10 minutes for reading it.”

(Pliego is Spanish for octavo, one of the earliest types of books, printed and folded but not bound. They were popular at the time of Shakespeare.)

Hidalgo created a Pliego from Ismael Peña-López‘s Drumbeat festival blog series, which are here, or better yet you can print them out and make your own Pliego here. They are excellent.

HowTo pliego from pliegos on Vimeo.

Why Pliegos? Why printing at all? It’s for saving something worthwhile enough to read later, or to physically give someone else. You know, like a book. But smaller, for our impatient tl;dr age.

“Pliegos can be collected like stamps or stickers, but once read we strongly emphasize to leave them in the public space. Like an anonymous gift for a stranger reader. Specially if they contain text extracted form the Internet: turning this way the digital into physical, like a paper bridge between both worlds.”

Update: I’ve revised in response to comments below through 12/17. Thanks, everyone!!

I am liveblogging the manuscript process of writing Learning Freedom and the Web: The Book. Previous posts here and here. Your comments and editing suggestions are welcome, nay, encouraged, nay, begged for. You can also find a directly editable version of this text at this Etherpad.

Barcelona, Fall 2010:
Two powerful vectors of change converge in a public square. Although the forces are unpredictable, and many of the outcomes of their convergence will be unintended, this experiment is not entirely uncontrolled. Like Doc and Marty McFly in Hill Valley, the team has calculated the likely conditions, wired in all the right connections. When lightning strikes, we’ll be ready.

The first vector rumbles like a seismic wave from the basements of the ivory tower and the schoolhouse down your block. The demand for access to both existing and new and better models of learning is rising as uncontrollably as the average temperature throughout the globe. The traditional educational ecosystem is edging toward collapse. Fifty million university students in 2000 will grow to 250 million by 2025, and the graph of educational costs is a hockey stick–headed straight up. Four hundred million children around the world have no access to school at all. No country in the world has a plan to fix this.

Meanwhile, informal learning–the kind we do all day every day, as long as our eyes are open and we’re not in school–is going through an unprecedented Cambrian explosion. “How to” is one of the top searches on Google. YouTube hosts millions of videos that can teach you to deliver a baby or solve a Rubik’s cube. An entire generation of Web geeks is functioning more or less self-taught, because traditional curricula can’t keep up with the skills they need.

Informal learning really glows with possibility when it meets hardcore learning materials.
For the past ten years, the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement has released thousands of entire courses from pre-K to PhD–lectures, exams, serious games, and everything in between–that can be freely shared under licenses like Creative Commons. Free textbooks are a potent gateway drug: OER already has support from tens of foundations, hundreds of schools and dozens of governments. Obama’s Department of Education has thrown its weight behind the cause of open licensing all educational content created with government funds.

Now, innovators are found thick on the ground both within and outside the academy. Open learning and open courseware couldn’t exist without the network of passionate, committed educators employed in traditional institutions, like Davidson and Wiley, for two.

Yet even as the ground shifts under its feet, formal education as a whole has its head stuck in the sand. There’s a little debate going: Do today’s prevailing schooling models owe more to the monks of the 1400s or the bureaucrats of the industrial revolution?

The problem is ancient, says David Wiley, professor at Brigham Young University and one of the godfathers of open educational content. “About 500 years ago the primary mode of teaching in the university was to come in with blank sheets of paper and listen to the professor recite from a manuscript so you could make your own copy of the book,” he told the crowd on Drumbeat Festival’s opening night. “There was an opportunity 500 years ago with the invention of the press to radically change education. But that didn’t happen. The lecture is still the primary model. Now we have the birth of the Internet. If we only get these opportunities twice a millennium we should try to use them.”

Cathy Davidson of Duke University, nominated to the National Council on the Humanities, and a proponent of storming the academy from within, focused on a different moment of stuckness in her electric Drumbeat keynote. “Virtually every feature of traditional formal education was created between 1850 and 1919 to support the Industrial Age. The whole basis of assessment is the standard deviation, the invention of Francis Galton! A eugenicist who believed the English poor should be sterilized!  We’re stuck with Henry Ford’s assembly line from kindergarten through grad school! But our world has changed! With the Internet we don’t need the same kind of hierarchical structures.”

The diagnosis is different, but the prescription is the same. Both Davidson’s and Wiley’s accounts point to the second vector.

Arcing over the hilltops: It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a lizard! It’s the ongoing creation of the open web!

Learning, Freedom and the Web is the theme of the first Mozilla Drumbeat Festival. Mozilla Drumbeat is “a series of practical projects and local events that gather smart, creative people around big ideas, solving problems and building the open web.”

Mozilla is a giant nonprofit open source software project. Together, thousands of people, employees but mostly volunteers, create Firefox, the number two web browser by market share, used by 400 million people worldwide. This is open source–a new way under the sun of organizing creative work with broad participation, all enabled by transparency. And in its maturity, a movement has grown out of this work, a worldwide alliance of people dedicated to keeping a part of the web transparent, held in common, and freely remixable by individuals. Oh yeah—and awesome.

Mitchell Baker, Mozilla’s founder and chief lizard wrangler, never takes a stage without thanking the volunteers that make it all possible. As she explained onstage in Barcelona, “Mozilla is about trying to build a part of the web that allows individuals to move from consumption to creation. We’re nonprofit not because it’s easy but because it represents what we’re trying to do. The Internet is so important that we believe that part of it should be a public asset.”

Their successes led Mozillians to ask, what else can openness do?And the battles they were constantly engaged in to protect the cause of Internet openness led them to ask: Beyond the realm of hackers, programmers and developers, who are our natural allies? Who else believes in openness, innovation, sharing, democracy, participation by all? Who can be convinced to fight for it?

There are many possible answers to that question: journalists, artists, filmmakers, political activists. But the decision to start the Drumbeat by rallying the avant-garde of teachers and learners was by no means arbitrary. The two groups have two important shared values and two shared tasks before them. You could call them the Four Freedoms.

  1. Freedom of Speech: The Internet transforms how we connect and share information; these are the defining tasks of education.
  2. Freedom of the Commons: Both the open web and education must balance their public mission with market forces.
  3. Freedom to Build: The architects of the Web are increasingly designing the parameters of private and public life. A key hacker value is that the Web is something WE Build. But for that openness to be meaningful, more people need the skills to participate. That’s where education comes in.
  4. Freedom to Transform: Formal education just happens to be the defining institution of any given civilization. It’s the machine that preps children to enter all the other institutions: the marketplace as workers and consumers, the government as citizens, or if they come in below grade, the welfare systems, the courts, and the jails. So, if you really believe in the promise of the open Internet—that this is the birth of a new kind of institution, a really new way of organizing human endeavor–then an education revolution is not only essential, it’s all but inevitable.

Inevitable, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be a lot of hard work. Which is fortunate, because working and creating together is, generally speaking, the best way to form relationships, to build communities, and even to learn.

So here’s the complete Drumbeat formula for catching lightning: throw together educators and techies, both committed to innovation in the public interest; guzzle coffee, snarf tapas, chat and make friends; but also actually make stuff using open-source technology. The design brief is to develop new tools and practices that can supplement, optimize, and/or replace the traditional trappings of the education system, from diplomas and textbooks to lectures and lesson plans–the better to serve learners’ needs for learning, socialization, and accreditation in open-source fashion. And amidst the code sprints, why not write a wish list too: What tools remain to be developed to allow learners of all ages to form the questions that are most salient to them, find the answers they need, build skills, and present themselves for a community’s stamp of approval? What allies and teams need to be formed to make these things happen?

And thus, if successful, the agenda of two days becomes the manifest of a much greater voyage: A call for all those who care to spread Webcraft literacy, to learn by making stuff together, to keep the Web free by making it ourselves, to shape society through more democratic design, to pull learning out of the 15th or 19th century and into the 21st, to find strength in diversity, and to think critically about–and tell joyful stories about–all this doing and building and learning and making and sharing, the better to get more people to notice and get involved.

So lightning struck the clock tower, two worldviews faced each other in a public square, and Drumbeat was born.

Or in the opening-night words of Mark Surman, director of Mozilla Foundation and Drumbeat’s visionary, as he shouted over the crowd, cheeks shining with sweat, in the high, echoey atrium of Barcelona’s Museum of Contemporary Art, “The future of the web and future of learning are intertwining. People here are creating that future.”

Hello folks, I write from my bedroom where I am battling a nasty illness to send you an important update: We have a draft outline for the Learning, Freedom and the Web e-book!

Please check it out here and send me your comments or post them below.

Questions: What people would you especially like to see profiled in the book? Extra points for folks outside the North American orbit.
What do you think of the suggested organizing schemes?
Anything else seem to be missing or is unclear?

This is the second in a series of posts where I’m publicly fumbling my way toward the EBook for the Future of Learning, Freedom and the Web, which will appear early next year. This is scary for me! I am used to having an editor, not 1000s of people to edit what I’ve written before it’s finished. That said, I’m embracing the fear, and this is submitted to the community for your response and hopefully constructive derision.

So I’m playing with relating the themes of Learning, Freedom, and the Web, with the intuition that these three could be fertile enough ground on which to build a whole manuscript.

Let me start with learning cause that’s what I know the most about (ahem):

Roughly speaking you might say there are two kinds of learning: scholastic and empirical. Scholastic learning means accessing the accumulated body of knowledge that humans have been building up since the beginning of recorded history. Read a book, memorize words in a new language, practice algebra: you’re engaging in scholastic learning.

Empirical learning means engaging in discovery, expanding the borders of that accumulated body of knowledge through creative work or factfinding. Write a poem, conduct a scientific experiment, code a new program: you’re engaging in empirical learning.

Laying out this dichotomy should make it clear that it is inherently flawed, however much it may be perpetuated (usually by debates between vocational studies and the liberal arts, or pure and applied research, or the hopelessly academic and the supremely practical.)
Scholasticism and empiricism are really two sides of the same coin. There is no one with out the other. One generation’s shocking empirical discovery ages into the next generation’s reliable historical scholarship. The young have something to teach the old, the old have something to teach the young. And between the poles of these two kinds of learning there’s a clue, maybe, to the key relationships amongst learning, freedom, and the web.

Maybe “empirical” learning embodies the principles of freedom, individual unbounded exploration, and “scholastic” learning embodies the principles of the Web—knowledge of the basic architectures and grammars, following the rules that make us intelligible to each other and allow us to work and play together nicely.

Or alternatively, you could say that “learning” embodies the principle of humanities scholarship, or study and rediscovery of what already exists; “the Web” embodies the principle of scientific empiricism, or following scientific methods to build and discover new things; and “freedom” is the awareness and permission to switch smoothly and appropriately from one to the other.

Or perhaps “learning” is the verb: the key organizing, refining, and review process by which the ideals of freedom, openness and transparency that enable empirical explorations are compiled and codified into the structures and networks of the web (the scholastic codes)?

What do you think?

Mozilla - Drumbeat Festival - After Party (67 sur 84)

Massive Multiplayer Thumb War at the “City Hall” nightclub in Barcelona, via mozillaeu

via @remixmanifesto

So I’ve been back in NYC a few days now and trying to describe to people why I was so psyched about being a part of the Mozilla Drumbeat Festival, and what I think is important about it for others.

[This is both a fun conversational gambit as well as part of my professional duties re: documenting the festival. The hope is to transform the notes and raw materials found here into something as sleek, visual and inviting as these].

So here’s what I got so far:

The magic was in combining 1) educators and 2) technologists who are both committed to 3) innovation in 4) the noncommercial space;

And throwing them together not just to form relationships and build community, but with the expectation that they actually Make stuff (which generally speaking is the best way to form relationships, to build communities, and to learn)

And a specific type of multiculturalism emerged: you have the thoughtfulness, reflectiveness and social engagement of the education people,

combined with the can-do, results-oriented, rapid-prototype, touchable-sketch skillz of the tech people.

And together they Make stuff using technology, specifically, which is one of the most powerful forces shaping and driving social change, but is often perceived by non-technologists as being obscure or malign because it is 1)complex and hard to understand and 2) controlled by Others (those with expertise, corporations, and/or government)

Which helps establish one of the key elements that Mozilla Foundation, as I understand it, is out to establish, which is that the WEB is something WEBuild. (We= Everybody, you, me, not some faceless Others). That’s why you need an open “free” noncommercial web so that it belongs to you and me. And that’s why you need people in general with the skills (and resources, of course) to build it. Because those who control the design of the Web increasingly control other elements of society and our experience.

Which is, in turn, a major task for those in the Learning space to take on: WEB building skills (or WebCraft) constitute a new form of literacy that is lacked by far more people than good old Reading and Writing. I am a Webcraft illiterate myself.

So basically: to spread Webcraft literacy, to learn by making stuff together, to keep the web free by making it ourselves, to shape society through more democratic design, to figure out best ways and practices to learn and make in groups of people who bring different skills to the table, and to think critically about–and tell joyful stories about–all this doing and building and learning and making and sharing, the better to get more people to notice and get involved.

I am doing a bit of handwaving here but this is my first draft sketch–let me know what you think!

I’m in Barcelona for the Mozilla Drumbeat Festival on the Future of Learning, Freedom and the Web. It’s overlapping with the OpenEd conference, the premiere gathering for the global open educational resources community, featuring such edtech luminaries as David Wiley, Brian Lamb and Scott Leslie, which I attended last year in Vancouver when I was researching DIY U.

A surprising attendee at the OpenEd conference whom I met at the cocktail party last night was Brian Ouellette, a Vice President at Kaplan University. It seems Kaplan (a subsidiary of the Washington Post Company whose solid profits subsidize, yes, the Washington Post: traded on the NYSE as WPO) is putting some money into an internal startup, a new assessment and accreditation business, focused on offering college credit for prior learning—including self-learning taking advantage of free Open Courseware such as that provided by MIT. This could be the long-awaited missing link for open courseware–everyone says that an open, democratic accreditation system is the Holy Grail that’s sorely missing in order for free and open courseware and peer-based learning networks to translate into affordable, accessible, higher education. Or it could be the Evil Empire taking over and strangling the edupunk movement.

This is the same Kaplan, after all, that’s currently under fire from Congress for aggressively targeting vets
and the subject of a federal false claims whistleblower lawsuit by 3 of its own former academic advisors.
not to mention new regulations from the Department of Education challenging the poor graduation rates and debt burdens of the whole for-profit sector; regulations that this sector is fighting with millions of dollars in lobbying cash to Congress; and also apparently fighting by misleading their students that the regulations would take away all of their federal aid, leading to tens of thousands of comment letters from students based on bad information.

They are also the same Kaplan who are the authors of an amazing viral video ad that says everything that needs to be said about the future of higher education. And they are part of a sector that already enrolls 10 percent of all students, and is growing several times faster in enrollment than the traditional higher education sector.

Brian wouldn’t comment officially on any of these issues. But I bared my soul to him over some tapas: I believe that the for-profit sector in higher ed has the ability and the resources to be innovative, as this freelance accreditation idea shows. They also have the right students in mind–the working adults, the veterans, the first in their families to go to college. I believe that they shouldn’t have to pressure or trick people into buying their product. If the sector doesn’t clean up its act and submit itself to real regulation, how can they ever earn the public’s trust?