Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Reinventing General Education

Readers of this blog may recall that I've been working on reinventing General Education. Most college students view those courses as largely irrelevant to their lives.

My proposal outlines 24 courses whose content is of great real-world applicability, taught online by the nation's most transformational instructors. The courses would be made available to all colleges and universities to use as an alternative to their traditional general education program. For an overview of my plan, click HERE.

Here's an update on my efforts to make New General Education a reality. I have contacted senior officials at the Gates Foundation, Google, Apple U, Kauffmann Foundation, an undersecretary at the U.S. Office of Education, Jimmy Wales (founder of Wikipedia) the Executive Director of a regional accreditation commission, the just-retired provost at U.C. Berkeley, a vice president at the California State University and the University of Phoenix, the president of Napa Valley College, top editors at the Chronicle of Higher Education and at Inside Higher Education.

Those who have responded all agree that my proposal is excellent. For example, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales wrote, "Your project sounds wonderful and I wish you the best but I can't get involved in any other projects at this time." Indeed no one I've contacted has opted to get involved. Sigh.

I do have meetings scheduled in January with a couple of college presidents and am being introduced to a wealthy entrepreneur with interest in reinventing higher education but I'm not optimistic that those will be sufficient. Any ideas on where to turn?


Anonymous said...

Dr. Nemko,
These are two suggestions that I hope might be somewhat helpful.

1. I'm sure you've thought of this, but does your wife Barbara Nemko have connections with anyone in higher education?

2. You could start a Meetup group called something like "PhD regrets" and hold monthly meetings to brainstorm change at the grassroots level.

Marty Nemko said...

Dear Anonymous,

Yes, you're right, I've consulted my wife--she has set me up with some of the folks I've been meeting with. Indeed, we'll be inviting a couple of potentially interested people to dinner in January.

This is not a grassroots kind of thing. It needs a designer-label force behind it.

Serge said...

Have you contacted the Teaching Company. I've been borrowing dozens of courses on DVD from my local library for years, and although as you mentioned in a Tweet some may be too "Trivia Centric", as academic courses, they tend to be quite intellectually challenging and engaging.

Teaching Company already has contacts and infrastructure. At very least, a choice may be given to the students to select courses they want to take, and while watching the DVDs, they could chat with other students or teaching assistants if they need help.

Marty Nemko said...

Serge, I tried an email contact with them, no response as of yet. But it's a bottom-priority for me. Without awarding course credit, it will have too few students to justify the enormous cost of creating the truly interactive courses I believe are necessary.

Maureen Nelson said...

Sorry not more "real" interest in this. Please keep updating us on the blog. I think your readers, being a "thinking" lot, care about this more than you know and want to see it happen. Two thoughts: Put more effort toward big money (US govt) and/or pursue schools that already have all-online degrees; your program would just be a variation of what they already have; thus, no reinventing of the wheel. Being at the nexus of Fed $$ flowing toward education/training, I can tell you there's a never-ending stream of grants. Can you spin it toward the "e" word ("employment") for the Feds? See my off-blog communique re: CSP/Peralta. There's so much money, they're paying people to go to school. Maybe a one-year certificate in your model is something you should go after first as a pilot. Then, if that's successful, an A.A. Then a B.A. Just trying to think outside the box. You should track grads and prove that they're getting jobs faster and at higher wages (important DOL metric) than people who go through traditional certificate/A.A./B.A. You are asking for too much trust too fast. It's too risky for them.


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