Just had another whirlwind discussion with tsunami of social education wunderkind Michael Staton, who runs Inigral, which the company calls a Facebook for higher education.
Here are some extracts from the interview. We will run a much lengthier look at Inigral later.
There are three reasons people want to go to university:
1.They want to experience the socialization process
2.They want to be exposed to the content
3.They want some kind of degree that says they are valuable in the economic marketplace
What does that mean, and why should institutions begin to behave more like media companies?
The first, experience, can not be replicated, but the second two are open, and they can become more open than they are now. The university right now limits exposing degrees and content to those who enroll.
Everyday, when faculty and students get together, intersting things happen. Taking that content and being able to leverage and build a brand online is what they should be doing.
Right, so what’s the benefit of being a media company if you are really a school? So what?
They are going to be competing globally against other branded institutions.
Right now, it’s the nature of institutions to guard the content, they want to lock down on it, and they only want their students tot have access to it. The way to compete is to find out how to be strategically open and also find a larger reach. How many students are they impacting on the internet? How many people are observing online courses? How many are interacting with media comping out of the institution.
That basically means that the value of the institution is measured socially, in how much and how often they reach out beyond that walled garden of academia. If they want to sell their degree, they need to sell that brand.
In that kind of world, the system of grading breaks down, because it becomes less valuable what the students achieve as consumers, and more important to consider what can pre-workers or the pre-employed do for the community-at-large. That’s how you know someone’s worth something.
So we drift to K12. A different model than higher ed. What does that look like?
I absolutley think students should be producers. Their work never impacts other people. People want positive feedback and they ant to know their work has greater impact.
The giant travesty of education is that you have all these young people who put all their energy into work that doesn’t have any impact on anyone else. It’s not that they don’t care, it’s that they are being asked to produce work that nobody cares about.
When the contracts that bind teachers in K12 into unproductive schedules and only make the work relevant to the world three feet from the student’s nose go away, we will begin to see experts at teaching become experts at the business and the social process of liberating students to the world.