College of Miscellany

"College education" is no longer a thing we offer or something you can purchase. Education happens continually according to you personal needs, motivations and interest. There are no limits to what you can learn and no constraints imposed by schedules, experts, paper or physical spaces. We utilize our campus facilities for very different purposes now that we are a College of Miscellany.

Class size is now unlimited. We've stopped assigning classes to spaces in buildings that necessitated wait lists, added sections and T.A.'s with unintelligible accents. There is no classroom big enough to hold everyone who is currently online in the same synchronous activity. Holding classes in physical spaces is obsolete, except for occasional activities, group hugs and contests.

Textbooks no longer have page limits or covers. You can no longer afford to buy a textbook. It's too heavy to carry it to class if it were printed out like in the olden days. You can only get the portions you need online for free (or for dirt cheap). The library is closed for general use. Books that have not been digitized are stored in special collections. Books printed paper are regarded as artifacts of a bygone era, useful only for historical and anthropological research.

Digitized books are in widespread use. You can find them by searching online with your own queries. The days of being limited to author, title and shelving numbers are gone. Digital editions include your selection of annotations, cross references, supplemental materials and indicators of popularity among other readers. You are supposed to "lose your place" and "follow links" out of the book you're reading -- as if learning is a flow activity not confined to command & control structures or expert systems.

Class assignments are entirely for extra credit. There are no required readings or homework. You cannot get a grade unless you give yourself one. Disruption of your self motivation, intrinsic learning and personal exploration are now prohibited. We have a zero tolerance for faculty telling you what to think, how you're to be judged or what you're supposed to be interested in. If a learning opportunity is not rewarding to you, don't do it. Old school is out!

You are expected to view some portion of all the videos, slide presentations, blogs, wiki and web sites in the world, as well as listening to countless podcasts and mp3 files. Take what you need and leave the rest. Chill out and have fun with this freedom to learn endlessly.

Plagiarism is expected. You must cut and paste other people's content into your own documents in order to give yourself something more to say. Annotate these excerpts with your own experiences, realizations, open-ended questions and continuing explorations. Consider that you really learn when interacting with other viewpoints in a context where there are many right answers to be included, and final say is being postponed indefinitely. We are in open beta release until further notice.

Most of the faculty no longer have offices or committee meetings. They are expected to not show up on campus for classes, since no one else is. The faculty are available online to answer questions, guide explorations, share their own learning, and pose new questions. You may get together with one or two in those third places where they have been sighted sipping half caffe lattes.

Grades, transcripts and diplomas are no longer offered. Everything you do will be given an incomplete. Imposed limitations on how much you learn or timeframes for learning went out the window with page limits and class sizes. You can give yourself a sense of accomplishment, deadlines and closure on a topic if you wish. You will get the feedback you need by interacting with other learners and content.

Come to campus if you want to. The labs are still open if you want to learn by doing hands-on experiments. You can also sign up for group projects, theatrical/musical productions and peer advising. The athletic department took over the administration and alumni relations. It has tripled the size of the sports programs and cut out the useless academics. Student affairs has beefed up their offerings to include more campus activities, concerts and parties. Counseling and student advising has gone high tech. They now offer a vast array of searchable support services to ease your transition into getting an education when "Everything is Miscellaneous".

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  1. Nicely framed... That definately describes my deep feelings toward 'formal higher education' stuck... canned... and regulated down certain ditches without any water for me... and it seems that a true 'Liberal Education' is closer to the click of a link than curriculum that was processed & passed six years ago....

    with all that said...

    what do you see the place of 'higher education' actually having in the future... will major shifts be made or will it become icons of a bygone era?

    if it will survive or even thrive in the days to come - what will it look like? what merits a degree? and will degrees no longer mean anything?

    will there be a new parameters of bench marks, training & qualification?

    Are there current trends and experimentations taking place at any institutions that you know of....?

    the list could go on... nonetheless insightful conversation entry point into the future as we know it...(or perhaps the actual present as we've not known so well....)

  2. Thanks for these wonderful questions, and congruence between your experience and my framing of higher ed. I think credentials will shift from diplomas to certificates, like software programmers currently acquire. Game designers have a great grasp on challenges that qualify the player to enter the next level and how to remediate players who "don't get it" or "get in their own way". That suggests to me that games will test learners for proven abilities, instead of test-taking grade games that fill transcripts and qualify for diplomas.

    I'm thinking the higher ed model still works for PhD researchers to get into their fields. That suggests that academia is an effective breeding ground for its own kind, but not for cultural creatives, knowledge workers or other players in the emerging economy. Universities previously served the bureaucracies and factories of the industrialized economy with compliant test-takers. The shift to "Everything Miscellany" suggests that all learners (except future academic researchers) will be immersed in life long individualized curricula. It's becoming increasingly senseless to presume we can define course and graduation requirements in this state of flux. Degrees are becoming perishable, temporarily viable and less useful. Valuable educational experiences need to be offered by entrepreneurs, innovators and project teams that are close to their markets, changing needs of customers and trends in the economy.

    I'm not finding many indications of experiments and changes within academia that fit this outlook. It's not easy to stop thinking of providing content, using classrooms, defining requirements and giving grades. Most online courses seem to adhere to the "class discussion" and "homework submittals" paradigm of the bygone era. The students are not customers in the eyes of the academic enterprises. For more on how learning needs to change from being "regulated down certain ditches without any water for me" , my other blog explores lots of those issues: Clues to the College Blues.

    to be continued.........

  3. Tom... Thanks for some further clarification... (I left the last comment-but it got away from me before I could identify myself :-)

    Though that was a 'mouth-full' that i've yet to fully chew, muchless swallow - though it all resonates well...

    As you said, certain paradigms are slow and perhaps never turning ships, yet the phrase - "The shift to "Everything Miscellany" suggests that all learners (except future academic researchers) will be immersed in life long individualized curricula." thought it may be true... still causes my head to 'tilt with a hugh@#$@"

    If true, it seems that there will be a even growing crevice between the 'academic researcher' and 'land of the living.' Furthermore, it seems that as time progresses, the the gap so huge - those with true love for learning (or at least a certain slant) will see the obsoleteness of current systems without integrated-relational-'rubber-meets-the-road' interaction... (i'm not sure if the last part makes sense...)

    Nonetheless, I'll check out the other blog - thanks a gain for your time...

    Jerrell Jobe

  4. Jerrell: Thanks for your added comment. I'm not as gloomy as your anticipation of the "gap so huge". I think academic researchers exhibit a love of book learning, theory learning, hypothesis testing, etc. That makes them extremely focused, literal and reactive which is poor fit to the flux. Yet it is a love of learning, and as possible basis for respecting us free-style learners who love creative, intrinsic, panoramic approaches.