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More thoughts on DIY and extra institutional learning

I really liked these readings and the ways in which they talked about how we can begin to close the differential and inequitable access to knowledge and education, and better incorporate experience, collaboration, critical thinking and independence into learning. Laura did a great job summarizing the articles and posing questions, and Hadassah’s question about what motivates us to learn is really interesting, so I’ll just add a few thoughts. We can certainly see the DIY culture growing (eg, Brooklyn Brainery, 3rd Ward) and it’s exciting to have so many opportunities to create, learn new skills, and foster community — all things that I think help to motivate, or “direct us” as learners. But I think the notion of accreditation that Laura and Hadassah bring up is an interesting one, and definitely mirrors our conversation from last week. You may have seen this, but there’s a recent NYT article about higher education which posed the question “Why Go to College?

Interestingly, in 2008 a standardized test to become “Certified in Public Health” was created. To take it, you have to have, or be earning, a masters or doctoral degree, from an already accredited school of public health. This is not a license to practice, but rather, according to their FAQs, a “voluntary credential that demonstrates mastery of the core knowledge of public health. However, more and more employers are preferentially hiring and promoting CPH professionals or those who are eligible for CPH credentialing.” It’s costs about $400-600 to take and is based on core competencies from the Masters in Public Health degree. I don’t know much more beyond that — or know anyone who’s taken it (Sonia? Janice?) but it’s always struck me as odd (and frustrating), since I thought graduating with an MPH (from an accredited “corporate university”) was enough of a certification, so why do we need to pay hundreds of dollars more to take a standardized test in a subject that is very not standardized in practice? Who is this benefiting?

And so it goes back to Laura’s question of “what counts?” This made me think of last week’s conversation about peer-review and its relationship to how we want to be perceived — and how we’re at this interesting cross roads, and uphill battle. So how do we participate in finding new ways of validating knowledge and fostering trust in these new open systems? What needs to happen to make it sustainable? What will it look like if the online, open education model becomes the dominant paradigm, and what are the possible unintended consequences?

Posted in Motivations.

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One Response

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  1. m. akinyele says

    Hi Amy,
    I’ve been thinking about your thoughtful questions: How do we participate in finding new ways of validating knowledge and fostering trust in these new open systems? What needs to happen to make it sustainable? I think one way to start is to educate the en masse about these viable options. I truly believe that most people do not know that they can really be self-directed learners immersed in a collaborative and professional community. Once people are conscious, then they can make demands of universities and seek alternative accreditation. Often, when I want a reluctant teacher to change a “bad” classroom practice, I start by first educating the students. Once students realize that they are being cheated in their learning, they develop the gumption to criticize the teacher and make demands. Maybe this approach can work on a higher level.

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