Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Education

Do Online Educational Badges Threaten Conventional Education Models? 294

Posted by timothy
from the harvard-lite-doesn't-have-the-same-ring dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Educational badges, which seem like a playful riff on Boy Scout skill patches, pose an existential crisis for colleges and universities. If students can collect credentials from MITx and Khan Academy and other free Web sites, why go to a campus?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Do Online Educational Badges Threaten Conventional Education Models?

Comments Filter:
  • Portfolios (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Deus.1.01 (946808) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @06:07PM (#38632222) Journal

    Is the only badge relevant for self teaching.

    • What about subjects that don't lend themselves as easily to the portfolio approach? Works great for designers, but what about geneticists?
      • Published, peer-reviewed, papers go in a portfolio for any subject like that...
        • by tepples (727027) <tepples AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday January 08, 2012 @06:53PM (#38632554) Homepage Journal
          Published, peer-reviewed papers generally result from some sort of experiment. But I'm under the impression that some subjects are so tightly regulated that just doing experiments by themselves is illegal without a license. Only people who already have a degree from an incumbent accredited institution can get a license to supervise experiments in person. Case in point: the decline of chemistry sets [blogspot.com] after the strengthening of toy safety standards and the public awareness of the illicit manufacture of stimulant drugs.
          • If I were conducting DNA research on how to turn on immortality genes, and I'm not, I wouldn't broadcast that fact to the public. In fact, I would keep it completely secret. The last thing our government wants is the average Joe living for 1000 years. The same goes for any healing technology.

        • Published, peer-reviewed, papers go in a portfolio for any subject like that...

          I'm curious as to how many people with no university or industry affiliation have published papers, especially those that have published without any collaborators with such affiliations. As a CS grad student, I haven't run across any that I can remember, but perhaps I haven't been around long enough and there are too many other disciplines and specializations to count. Some disciplines would be easier than others -- in Computer Science, for example, there are plenty of research areas that don't require a

          • by tepples (727027)

            only few (non academic or industrial research) outsiders would care so much to publish unless they are hoping to gain the very affiliation the eschew.

            You said "industrial research". I guess the point of the comments by Deus.1.01 and TheRaven64 is just that: one's industrial research should get one into industry.

          • Re:Portfolios (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Genda (560240) <marietNO@SPAMgot.net> on Sunday January 08, 2012 @11:59PM (#38634508) Journal

            In the mid 90s I worked with several good friends on a research project investigating the sexually based dimorphism of the human corpus collosum. It not only looked at the dimorphism among a large Stanford based MRI baseline data set, but also looked at hundreds of people from around the world, who were gay, lesbian and transgendered to determine if preference and/or gender identity could be fully or partially explained by brain morphology (i.e. brain sexing.) The project was not affiliated with any school or industrial organization. It was a fascinating project.

            • by aeoo (568706)

              also looked at hundreds of people from around the world, who were gay, lesbian and transgendered to determine if preference and/or gender identity could be fully or partially explained by brain morphology (i.e. brain sexing.)

              Instead of "explained by" I think you mean "matched with" or "correlated with."

      • How good can you be if you haven't accidentally created a plague or two?

    • by stephanruby (542433) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @08:17PM (#38633210)

      Two weeks ago it was the iPad, today it's gamification. I wonder what it is going to be tomorrow?

      Colleges and Universities have survived and adapted to the introduction of the Guttenberg press, the public library, the personal computer, and even the Internet, but now that the concept of gamification is around -- their days are numbered? This claim doesn't make a lot of sense.

      This statement implies that (1) colleges and universities can not copy/adapt the practice themselves, (2) that the online concept of badges can not be cheated or gamed, (3) that the concept of gamification is going to be equally effective in all areas of education and on all web sites, and (4) that gamification is so freaking effective and disruptive -- it's probably even more disruptive than the printing press itself -- it's going to take over the World !!

      To all of that, I say BS.

      Colleges and universities are indeed in an existential crisis right now (which no doubt will shape them in different ways), but this was the case long before youtube or gamification even came along.

      • by dwarfking (95773) on Monday January 09, 2012 @09:27AM (#38636596) Homepage

        Colleges and Universities (at least in the US) exist to support colleges, universities and professors. And I have heard former professors say the same thing, not just people like me.

        The university system does not prepare students for work in the real world, it simply teaches them some basic theory. It isn't until a person gets out of school and goes into an apprenticeship model (depending on the career path) that students learn anything useful. The college system did a great job convincing HR managers that they should require college degrees when many times it isn't needed. All the degree shows is the candidate is willing to waste 4-5 years in a classroom.

        I hit a glass ceiling 10 years ago, the company I worked at (where I was considered one of, if not the top, technical leader) said I could not get promoted without a degree, so I went and got a BS in Compute Science. I took classes with graduate students who (literally) did not know how to open a file stream in C++ and read individual words out of the file. I had to show them during labs. And these were the same people that would apply for jobs I had posted claiming they had Master Degrees and were deserving of higher salaries. The head of the Computer Science department asked if I would consider coming back and teaching after I graduated.

        What we need in this country is to go back to the guild/apprenticeship model for people that plan to work. If you want to teach, want to do research, then let the universities focus on that. But if a person wants to implement, let OJT be the way to go. Stop requiring 4 year college degrees and stop penalizing highly skilled practitioners who learned their trade instead of sitting in classroom.

        • The college system did a great job convincing HR managers that they should require college degrees when many times it isn't needed.

          Wasn't the college system that did this.

          Once upon a time, you apply for a job, you get handed an aptitude test which they use to decide if you can learn the job well enough to be worth the bother.

          Then, someone decides aptitude tests are discriminatory (note that many of them probably were), so it became illegal/immoral to use them for the purposes intended.

          So...we switched to

        • What we need in this country is to go back to the guild/apprenticeship model for people that plan to work. If you want to teach, want to do research, then let the universities focus on that. But if a person wants to implement, let OJT be the way to go. Stop requiring 4 year college degrees and stop penalizing highly skilled practitioners who learned their trade instead of sitting in classroom.

          Absolutely. College is not supposed to be a glorified trade school. I repeat: college is not supposed to be a glorified trade school.

          Centuries ago, college existed to teach the "liberal arts." You were training for a specific trade, but rather being generally educated in a wide variety of knowledge and ideas. Exposure to lots of things that are unfamiliar will always be of a greater long-term usefulness than a bunch of specific facts, especially when you aren't using those facts for anything at the m

  • by lemur3 (997863) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @06:07PM (#38632228)

    I think the idea of models for education that have been around for a long while apparently arent meeting the peoples needs.. the popularity of khan and mitx is just but one example...

    the 'threat' of people learning more stuff only exists if your business relies on selling people an education..

    for everyone else its good news!

    • by Moryath (553296) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @06:23PM (#38632360)

      Actually, not so much. Setting aside diploma mills like DeVry, University of Phoenix, etc, it is helpful to society to have professors in colleges who aren't just there to provide "here's the video for the lecture, here's the choose-a-guess test, here's your certificate" classes but instead provide actual interactive discussions, answer questions relevant to the topic at hand from a learned perspective, continue to do research in the subjects they are teaching, and continually update the curriculum thereby.

      On the flipside, yes, there are certain areas of the economy where "college" has taken over the role previously taken by what were called "trade schools", and there's the inevitable degree-creep that's been caused by the brainless HR sector constantly requiring more and more of a checklist of "must have this, must have that" to apply for jobs that has come with the computerization era. The idea of "all jobs require a college degree", whereas 30 years ago it was a HS diploma, or the number of jobs now requiring a Master's rather than a mere Associate's or Bachelor's degree, all pushed even further by a complete refusal by companies to actually provide on-the-job training, instead insisting that all new hires should drop in like made-to-order cogs on day one.

      Khan and MITx look a lot to me like the Idiocracy approach to "education" - one size fits all, just take your multiple-guess test and keep taking it till you get your cert.

      • it is helpful to society to have professors in colleges who [...] provide actual interactive discussions, answer questions relevant to the topic at hand from a learned perspective

        Can't this be done online with software such as Slash or phpBB?

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          it is helpful to society to have professors in colleges who [...] provide actual interactive discussions, answer questions relevant to the topic at hand from a learned perspective

          Can't this be done online with software such as Slash or phpBB?

          No. In-class discussions use peer pressure to weed out trolls. Moderation and reputation systems are not an effective substitute.

          • by tepples (727027)

            In-class discussions use peer pressure to weed out trolls.

            They also, unfortunately, use peer pressure to weed out bright students who just happen to have impaired mobility or an autism spectrum disorder.

            • by Xeranar (2029624)

              If you have autism the odds of your success are mucher lower. Also I have yet to have met a class that was so bothered by a physical handicap that it defeated them. Ultimately you're trying to justify the obtuse.

        • "Install" software is insignificant, the question is who's actually answering the questions and discussing the topics. Khan is free because as a broadcast medium, it requires very few knowledgeable people for each student. If you make it two way, you suddenly need the same number of teachers as a regular college.

          • by tepples (727027)

            If you make it two way, you suddenly need the same number of teachers as a regular college.

            But no room and board, and no textbook fees if the teachers contribute to Wikibooks/Wikiversity or another Free courseware project.

          • by rtb61 (674572)

            Kahn also does not have to validate the credentials of the individual to ensure the person so names i actually capable of functioning in the speciality that the education qualification would indicate.

            I don't see any problem with on-line as long as the final testing and qualification is done in person and verified.

            So free learning and pay for written, oral and practical testing. Free is important to keep out the right wing rip off merchants, whose scam is to charge government to provide pretend educatio

      • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @06:50PM (#38632542)

        And if any thing tech / IT needs trade like learning.

        As in IT

        CS is very top level and has a over load of theory.

        Certs are vender based and some are ones that you can cram for and pass with no idea on how to do the real work.

        Tech school and trades is the right fit with some real apprenticeships / interns (that are not office boys and ones the get paid and do real work with a learning part to it)

        • by blackraven14250 (902843) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @09:01PM (#38633478)
          I've also had a far different experience with professors at DeVry. They're far more available than the local county college professors IME, and have largely been willing to help with problems outside of the set curriculum they're given to actually teach (for most of the full time faculty and the more passionate part timers). In fact, most of the professors are kinda bummed that they have to follow such a strict set of topics for class lectures due to the limited time and top-down curriculum structuring, but love being asked the kinds of questions that aren't quite directly related to what they're supposed to teach.
          • I agree as well. I am currently going to DeVry and it is nice to have teachers that are actually doing the job during the day, then coming and teaching at night. You get a better idea of how everything is playing out in the real world, rather than a professor who only teaches and hasn't been in the field for who knows how long. I do enjoy the discussion topics as you get to interact with people in different areas of the country who still have their own opinions rather than the localized opinions you get
      • by aurizon (122550)

        A university like MIT, Yale etc teach and produce graduates with skills that are respected and an employer can ask for a transcript and rely on it to show the merit of the person in these courses. Diploma mills also grant detailed transcripts, but gain little respect. Is the transition from diploma mill to university possible? - Yes, over a time, by following accreditation procedures, usually governed by the state any school can elevate itself.
        Now we have Khan and MITx, one of which grew from the earth ove

      • it is helpful to society to have professors in colleges who aren't just there to provide "here's the video for the lecture, here's the choose-a-guess test, here's your certificate" classes but instead provide actual interactive discussions, answer questions relevant to the topic at hand from a learned perspective, continue to do research in the subjects they are teaching, and continually update the curriculum thereby.

        youre talking as if there does not happen such discussions online. i guess you have never been to a civil, science oriented community forum ? and you are talking as if the only online education methods are khan and mitx. the fact that such discussion forums, communities, mailing lists have existed since arpanet escapes your horizon.

        are you sure that you are qualified to participate in discussions pertaining to how science education should be, with your narrow horizon ?

      • by Belial6 (794905) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @08:00PM (#38633062)
        The reason so many jobs require college degrees instead of a HS diploma is because traditional education has failed through the HS level. The reason that you are not seeing the requirement of Masters degrees instead of Associate's or Bachelor's is because the "Reputable" colleges have become the same kind of paper mills as DeVry, Phoenix, etc...

        Online education isn't the Idiocracy approach. Traditional eduction has become the Idiocracy education.

        A major piece of this conversation that gets completely ignored is that there are different levels of education. Look at all of the comments in any thread concerning Khan Academy , and people start talking about how they don't want to be operated on by someone who got their medical degree online, or drive on a bridge by someone who got their engineering degree online. The conversation should start with "Does a 6 year old learn math better via Khan Academy or in a traditional 1st grade classroom?" This should then be asked for each year until you get to the end. I can tell you that my 7 year old child gets about the same amount of education from 6 hours of Khan Academy as traditional education would provide in 6 months.
      • by i.r.id10t (595143)

        Of course, it would help if a high school diploma meant more than "johnny showed up every day and didn't distract anyone" .... seriously. When I graduated HS in '89, the polices were changed so that as long as you showed up every day, didn't cause a disturbance, didn't sleep, and didn't die you would get a 60... get 1 point anywhere on anything, and you now have a greater than 60 average so you pass...

        I teach a intro to linux class at a community college (whoops... just college. we offer 4 year degrees n

        • It fits better in an economics model. The basic principal is the more education you have the more you will get paid.
          So as more people try to get a better education the more schools will try to meet demmand. So standards get lowered because a 2 year degree is needed for a job that was previously needed for a high school deploma. So the education taught would be the equlivlant of a high school deploma. A 4 year is about what you get in a 2 year, a masters is about the same as a 4 year. A phd is the same as a
      • by AK Marc (707885) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @09:28PM (#38633648)
        If you haven't taken a class where you are learning Russian History in a class of 8 from a PhD in Russian literature who is "published" as a translator of 10 or so historical non-fiction works from Russian to English (and in the class, it is so informal and discussion-oriented that everyone calls everyone else by their first name), then you didn't get an education, you got a degree. And yes, that was at a university where I was also in a Chem 101 (literally) with 500+ students and IDs were checked at all test days because there's no way the lecturer would ever notice a cheater without papers checked. You just have to sometimes look hard for the actually educational classes.
      • Many in-person university classes are exactly what you said is wrong with online classes. Look at Organic Chemistry for instance, that one was even criticized by DARPA recently. Organic Chemistry classes in USA university are pretty much universally taught as memorization classes and tested that way also. Doing them online is no different then doing them in person.

        Last semester I had a class which did extensive online homework and it was not multiple choice at all. It was for a chemical engineering class on

    • The question becomes what level of education does our society want to support, and how do we support teachers to make that possible? If we want a college level of education for our populace, then we really need to rethink things. The traditional approach is highly problematic - it doesn't reach everyone, it is very expensive... Then again, this new method as theory is not a sustainable way to support teachers, and leaves out in person instruction. (In practice one would expected these classes are actual
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Xeranar (2029624)

      Or you're just a loud minority supported by an even smaller minority who want to break public education due to their political goals and personal views alongside their ability to profit. This is a better mousetrap conundrum, if you can do it you'll get rich but nobody has. Humans only learn in a handful of ways and frankly a traditional academic setting is preferred.

    • by Colin Smith (2679) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @07:43PM (#38632958)

      The professions typically have a couple of years of professional qualifications to pass before going into practice. This is over and above a good education.

      Education is not and should never be, professional qualification. They are entirely different things.

      The problem seems to be that many professions, and HR "professionals" don't seem to realise they should be providing "badges and certificates" for professional qualifications.

      A degree is not a professional qualification, it is and should be for education. MIT Online and Khan Academy are educational tools, again, not professional qualifications.

  • Not optimistic. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 08, 2012 @06:08PM (#38632232)
    The usual purpose of attending college isn't to learn the material, so much as being adequately credentialed for consideration for employment. So the question is, will the people doing the hiring consider them as sufficient alternatives to a traditional degree.

    I suspect they'll stay slightly less influential than industry certifications, which stand well below degrees from accredited universities.
    • Re:Not optimistic. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Trepidity (597) <.gro.hsikcah. .ta. .todhsals-muiriled.> on Sunday January 08, 2012 @06:26PM (#38632374)

      I tentatively agree, but I think the entrance of "big-name" universities into this experiment potentially changes things, if they keep standards up. Anything with the name MIT or Stanford associated with it has some amount of built-in cachet. I think that even if it's not a regular degree, but Stanford-with-an-asterisk, employers, and especially smaller and less rigid employers like we often find in technology, will be willing to consider it if Stanford does a reasonable job with it.

      I can especially imagine employers with specific needs taking it seriously, e.g. someone needing a data analyst may consider certification in 2 statistics and 2 machine-learning classes from Stanford good enough for the job.

      • Re:Not optimistic. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by vlm (69642) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @06:34PM (#38632428)

        someone needing a data analyst may consider certification in 2 statistics and 2 machine-learning classes from Stanford good enough for the job.

        Yeah the problem for Mr Badge is that badge collection is all that is need to do the job, but the unemployed guy with a masters in math also applied for the same job, along with 10 new B.S. 4-year grads and 5 guys with 3 years of experience, and that "retired" EE prof with a PHD who was denied tenure. And also 20 guys who don't have the education or experience but they're good liars and know how to work the system, so one of those 20 will almost certainly be hired.

        I'm not thinking the depths of the second great depression is all that great of a time to roll this idea out.

        • Re:Not optimistic. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Trepidity (597) <.gro.hsikcah. .ta. .todhsals-muiriled.> on Sunday January 08, 2012 @06:38PM (#38632458)

          In tech there seems to still be enough of a shortage of skilled people that people without degrees do get hired regularly, though not as easily as people with degrees. Silicon Valley startups seem to already consider "some cool projects on GitHub" to be the moral equivalent of a bachelor's degree...

          • by vlm (69642)

            Thats awesome for the (number of people in silly valley in the field)/(number of people in USA) * 100 percent of the population. In other words just about no one.

            Similar, I could move to one of the oil/gas production hubs, and be one of the 10 or so McDonalds employees making more than $20/hr.

            It's just not relevant to most of the population.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            In tech there seems to still be enough of a shortage of skilled people that people without degrees do get hired regularly, though not as easily as people with degrees. Silicon Valley startups seem to already consider "some cool projects on GitHub" to be the moral equivalent of a bachelor's degree...

            It sounds like you don't think much of people that don't have degrees, as if they're hired only to fill a chair until a properly-educated person comes along. Please explain why college degree should confer higher value than real, visible work. As an employer I prefer to see what someone can really do, regardless of their papers. As an employee, I would rather show off the things I'm capable of (and interested in) now, not how much I can borrow/spend on having someone else spoon-feed concepts to me.

            Don't

            • by MikeURL (890801)

              Personally I think the problem is that trade policies have offshored US jobs faster than they could be created. So people flooded into Higher Ed out of desperation in the hopes that education would uniformly preserve the American middle class.

              It helped. But the hole is just too deep. Too many jobs left America forever and not all of those displaced workers belonged in a college. Many belonged in a textile mill, or stamping plastic toys in an assembly line. Now they are kinda forced into college and the

        • And also 20 guys who don't have the education or experience but they're good liars and know how to work the system, so one of those 20 will almost certainly be hired.

          No matter how good those liars are, they have little or no chance... against the nepotist applicant.

    • by frisket (149522)
      That's the nub of it. From the article:

      After all, traditional college diplomas look elegant when hung on the wall, but they contain very little detail about what the recipient learned.

      I think the author has made a fundamentally false assumption here. "Traditional college diplomas" are not meant to contain the details of what the recipient learned. That's what a Transcript is for. A degree certifies that you have learned how to learn; that you know how to read and analyse, how to find information and sift it for fact and fiction, how to write what you have learned clearly and concisely, and how to support your argument by pointing at what others have

      • Re:Not optimistic. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Trepidity (597) <.gro.hsikcah. .ta. .todhsals-muiriled.> on Sunday January 08, 2012 @06:43PM (#38632508)

        For large employers, there's also the meta-skill of showing some amount of self-discipline and aptitude for following rules and navigating bureaucracies. A degree is in part a certification that you've successfully followed a series of requirements and tasks for four years. That's harder to replicate in these DIY educational approaches, because not being huge and bureaucratic is sort of the whole point of the alternative approaches.

        • by mysidia (191772) *

          For large employers, there's also the meta-skill of showing some amount of self-discipline and aptitude for following rules and navigating bureaucracies.

          They could introduce some classes whose subject is "navigating bureaucracies", "meeting requirements", etc.
          With hands-on project work, and learn by doing used extensively....

    • "If students can collect credentials from MITx and Khan Academy and other free Web sites, why go to a campus?"

      I was going to say that the student misses out on puking in dorm rooms during keggers, fending off advances from lecherous profs, being forced to participate in the college textbook scam, outrageous tuition increases, and on and on...

  • Safe for a while (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anrego (830717) * on Sunday January 08, 2012 @06:08PM (#38632238)

    I really don't know if this is a good thing. While I think I would have loved the idea while I was in school, looking back I think I would have missed out on a lot of social interaction that was probably really important.

    If left to my own devices, I would have spent every hour of my free time on a computer. Luckily I had friends who dragged me to various things.. and begrudgingly I actually had a lot of fun.

    In other words, I think education is only part of the education process. Social development is the other big part. Technical skills are great, but in todays work environment everything is team driven and being able to get along with people is almost (or even more) important than being able to crank out killer code.

    • by JimBobJoe (2758)

      looking back I think I would have missed out on a lot of social interaction that was probably really important.

      And that's true. Putting it in more stark terms, a lot of higher education is really just a lifestyle for 19 year olds. That's not a bad thing, hell, I've lived that life far longer than one human should.

      But colleges make this lifestyle absurdly expensive, when all you really need to do is set aside a neighborhood for 19 year olds.

    • by N0Man74 (1620447)

      Sure, I agree that there are additional hidden values that may be found in traditional education (such as the development of social skills and social networks).

      However, it is completely possible that you can succeed in attaining your education without gaining these social skills or developing those networks, just like it is possible to develop social skills and networks without traditional education.

      Additionally, not everyone is in the financial position to attain the luxury of having both a traditional edu

    • Of course you are right that education is received best when you have active interaction with smart people. Which should happen at real university. Unfortunately it does not. There are 300 people on single year of civil engineering studies, and this university (PG, Poland) is the best one in whole country when it comes to civil engineering. And let me tell you: teachers are sick of that many students. Teachers don't pay attention to students. They *can't* pay attention. There are too many of students. The u

  • Getting a degree (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AG the other (1169501) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @06:14PM (#38632278)

    The most important thing in getting a degree is getting that ticket punched. There are jobs that just won't even talk to a person that doesn't have a degree.
    My degree is in music but in interviews I've never been asked what my degree was in. I've often been asked if I have a degree.

  • College is as much about establishing your social network as it is about learning. You don't even really have to know everyone to have the advantage of having gone somewhere; perhaps a hiring manager went to school there 10 years earlier. He'll still have a preconceived notion of what you went through to get your degree. I have to think that having those ties with a physical institution and actual contact with actual people will be worth more than "Some guy who posted to an online forum around the same time
  • easy answer (Score:4, Funny)

    by decora (1710862) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @06:16PM (#38632292) Journal

    because if you go to a campus, then your education costs will increase. that means you need to take out a bigger student loan. this, in turn, means that some hedge fund or investment bank can resell your student loan to someone else, take a huge profit, and retire to Fiji.

    what you need to understand, is that all of those perks of on campus life are very important to the economy of Fiji.

  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @06:17PM (#38632304) Homepage Journal

    ... from someone who says, "I don't actually have an MD, but I do have a 'Great Listener' badge!"?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    See the subject line. I'm an Eagle Scout and I'll acknowledge that that badge doesn't really account to much in the technical world, but I must protest to the idea that Boy Scout badges are worthless. At least the merit badge booklets can provide a decent crash-course session on many subjects for less than $5.

    Being an Eagle Scout got me my first few jobs. The First Aid and knot-tying skills I learned have continued to be useful throughout my adult life. Your "playfull riff" is offensive, sir anonymou
    • Being an Eagle Scout also entitles enlistees in the Army, Navy, and Air Force to start as E-2's instead of E-1's.
  • A lot of way colleges work is stuck in the past and some of it does not fit into today's world. But some of that stared years ago.
    Also there are a lot of people who not college material but can go / have other ways of learning.

    The cost of colleges is only part of what needs to be fixed.

    The tech schools do get a lot of stuff right and fill in some big gaps.

    community colleges do have a good fit and it's said that took state laws for 4 years colleges to take credits.

    4 years is to long (for most people) and som

  • Because nobody, except the person getting them, actually gives a shit about educational badges.

  • by vlm (69642) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @06:21PM (#38632346)

    The only important actor in this transaction is HR. No one else cares about degrees or badges or whatever, all that matters is skill.
    Someone wake me when "HR" as a group cares more about badges than, say, 2 year associates degrees (which they do not care about at all).
    Or perhaps certifications. For decades my local 2-yr tech school has offered endless certs for IT and pretty much anything else they can train over a weekend.
    Even vendor certs. What is my old CCNA or CCNP worth? Well, I guess it would make a nice placemat under a drink at a restaurant.

  • http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/06/education/students-of-virtual-schools-are-lagging-in-proficiency.html [nytimes.com]

    The number of students in virtual schools run by educational management organizations rose sharply last year, according to a new report being published Friday, and far fewer of them are proving proficient on standardized tests compared with their peers in other privately managed charter schools and in traditional public schools.

    http://www.kunc.org/post/report-finds-more-virtual-k-12-students-are-falling-be [kunc.org]

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @06:32PM (#38632410) Homepage

    Honestly, my wife has asked that lately. a "degree" is useless as tits on a bull outside of science or education. Mostly because Business degrees are a complete joke.

    She has a Bachelors in accounting and a CPA license. does not make her get a job any easier. In fact it hinders her right now, because companies dont want to pay a realistic wage that a BS and CPA would ask for. They are more interested in paying $25,900-$33,500 to a 21 year old kid that just got their AS and will take the peanuts pay happily.

  • Reposting while logged in since my AC comment was virtually ignored.

    See the subject line. I'm an Eagle Scout and I'll acknowledge that that badge doesn't really account to much in the technical world, but I must protest to the idea that Boy Scout badges are worthless. At least the merit badge booklets can provide a decent crash-course session on many subjects for less than $5.

    Being an Eagle Scout got me my first few jobs. The First Aid and knot-tying skills I learned have continued to be useful throug
  • by MacTO (1161105) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @06:55PM (#38632572)

    If you're looking to work for someone else, then you need to prove yourself to them. Sometimes you do that through portfolios. Sometimes you do that through work experience. Sometimes you do that through references. And yes, sometimes you do that through accreditation.

    If you're the type of person who wants to start their own business though, these forms of independent learning can be nearly as good as schooling. Of course you would have to go a little beyond hitting the books, since there is definitely a human element to learning.

    Of course, the people who are most successful at learning this way are probably self-starters to begin with and probably already know that.

  • tech needs some like that as well the traditional classroom does not fit for a lot of tech stuff and there is a BIG form say IT admin, Cisco, and doing programming.

    But people thing that CS is the one big fit all (it's not and even then each schools does CS in different ways) and thing tech schools are a joke (they are not 2 years in a tech schools covers more stuff that is used in real jobs then 4 years in CS)

    Now IT should be 1-1.5 years class room trade / tech school and 0.5-1+ years on the job apprentices

  • by Fujisawa Sensei (207127) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @07:23PM (#38632792) Journal

    How about the ability to actually build a machine that actually produces semiconductors, and I certainly got my money out of the program.

    ~$30K for materials and `$20K budget for the lab equipment including things like hydrogen purifier, mass-flow controller, incinerators, custom bell-jars, UV light source, and other assorted materials and equipment. Then there's access to a machine shop to cut angle iron, a scanning electron microscope and x-ray diffraction system, all in the same building of the university.

    And this was just undergrad work.

    Now how are MIT Online and Khan going to replace that?

  • by bd580slashdot (1948328) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @07:36PM (#38632904)
    Khan Academy isn't one size fits all. They partner with real schools and teachers too. The idea is to get more one on one time for students and teachers by shifting the one size fits all portion that is usually presentation time in a class to at home video homework and interactive adaptive exercises. Then when the student is stuck (and software helps ID this) the teacher has more time for personal interaction because the class time isn't being used for one size fits all presentation. Also Western Governor's University is fully accredited. There's face to face video and live proctoring and so on. Flat rate tuition and you can challenge for credits at any time. So you can study with free online stuff until you are proficient and then challenge for full accreditation at a flat rate. Pretty fuckin' cool, huh?
  • by msobkow (48369) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @08:00PM (#38633068) Homepage Journal

    There is no substitute for classroom discussion refereed by a Professor of Philosophy when you're learning how to construct an argument.

    There is no substitute for classroom discussion about history and literature, or any other subject where the course is about forming and expressing opinions, not learning what the "right" answer is.

    As those two items are the most critical things I felt I got out of my 4 year BScAdv in Computer Science, I definitely do not feel online education is a threat to the universities, though it is a game-changing supplement to the traditional university or college environment.

As long as we're going to reinvent the wheel again, we might as well try making it round this time. - Mike Dennison

Working...