Sunday, July 14, 2013

The new world of education

I hated college and school in general, and I vowed I was done with classrooms the second time I got a degree. But in our social/cloud powered new world order, things change. So as learning new skills has become imperative, I've been looking at options and I'm impressed with most of the choices out there.
The premium online classes are Lynda and Tutsplus, both of whom I've sampled and they're fantastic. I can fondly reminisce about the days of actually reading text to learn all I want, but for most of what is needed in today's business world, you really need to see it in action (especially if just practicing has become an issue, you hit a wall or can't afford the latest and greatest software, on and on).
Then there's Udacity, which has partnered with Georgia Tech to offer a $7000 master's degree (it has recently dropped to $6600!).

And the report card on Udacity is not good. Not good at all. Probably better to try edX instead.

Now I know what your knee-jerk reaction is: Yeah, you get what you pay for. Well, I say that rule has issues when applied to education. The best students are the hungriest ones, the ones last to leave the library or the lab, and they tend to be the ones from poor or lower middle class backgrounds who are under dire pressure to succeed from families and peers back home. Programs like these are a godsend to these kids, not to mention struggling adults looking to turn our pointless lives around, who are left behind and held back in favor of rich kids who buy their grades and subsequent offices.
Granted it's not perfect - you have to deal with this creep, for one thing. But I look forward to seeing the graduates and what they actually accomplish out there.
And of course, there are brick and mortar community colleges, and ongoing training at ridiculously overpriced learning centers, and classes at your workspace/hackerspace/coop. Many of these are taught by guys* whose sole purpose is to fluff their resume and impress their bros at the startup office, and they make terrible teachers. And you have to drive there, adding injury to insult. There are exceptions, like the nice guys who taught me PHP and probably others that you know. But largely, talk about getting what you pay for!
Two year and diploma colleges will explode in oncoming years for the economic reasons I listed above. And why not? Do we need our children to study film or liberal arts for four years? I hope it's obvious doctors and engineers are still required to study for 8 years...
What are the best solutions? Are there any?

*And they remain overwhelmingly male for some reason.