The End of College

– Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere – by Kevin Carey

This is the kind of book I wish I could have written! Nevertheless when I came across it at a bookshop not long ago, I grabbed and paid for it without hesitation. Because we NEED to read what he has to say about colleges (which in the writer’s opinion, as well as a growing opinion of informed parents and students worldwide, are becoming more elitist with the exorbitant fees and exclusive membership). It is a great relief that the writer presented his case with rational clarity for posterity, enhanced by case studies of the current phenomenal growth and explosion of education on the World Wide Web. He began the book by zeroing in on an MIT online course called The Secret of Life – an introduction to Biology that was mandatory for all MIT freshmen. It’s taught by a professor called Eric Lander – International Math Olympiad, Princeton valedictorian at age 20, Rhodes Scholarship, Harvard professorship, MacArthur “Genius” award. He is also a very good teacher – a rare quality amongst many great scholars (according to the writer). He was sitting in the lecture hall amongst the paying MIT students, absorbing all the juicy details of biochemistry, genetic mutations and RNA transcription.

“Yet I was not, and never have been, an MIT undergraduate. I did not fill out a college application or financial aid form or write a personal essay explaining why my life-altering experience founding a shelter for homeless marmots made me uniquely qualified to attend MIT. In fact, until that evening, I had never set foot on the MIT campus in my life. Nor did I pay MIT any tuition, which runs over $42,000 per year, plus another $15,000 for books, fees, and room and board. The entire Secret of Life course- lectures, problem sets, class forums, exams and certificates – was TOTALLY FREE.”

And he wasn’t the only one. At the same time, all around the world, tens of thousands of other students were taking The Secret Life for free. The class was being produced by a brand-new online educational organization jointly run by MIT and Harvard University – two bitter rivals for the world’s best scholars and students. Why are they collaborating now?

“………because higher education now stands at the brink of transformation by information technology. Harvard and MIT are accelerating seismic forces that threaten colleges that have stood, largely unchanged, for decades or more. These historical developments will liberate hundreds of millions of people around the world , creating ways of learning that have never existed before. They will also upend a cornerstone of the American meritocracy, fundamentally altering the way our society creates knowledge and economic opportunity.

Whether they know it or not, Harvard and MIT are helping to build a new and unprecedented institution: the University of Everywhere.”

So what IS the University of Everywhere? According to Kevin Carey, it is where:

1. Students of the future will go to college.

2. Education resources will be abundant and free – available to anyone in the world with an Internet connection.

3. The idea of “admission” to college will become an anachronism, because the University of Everywhere will be open to everyone.

4. It will span the earth – members of a growing middle class will transform the experience of higher education.

5. It will solve the basic problem that has bedeviled universities since they were first invented over a millennium ago: how to provide a personalized, individual education to large numbers of people at a reasonable price.

6. It will be driven by advances in artificial intelligence and fueled by massive amounts of educational data. Information about student learning will be used to continually adapt and improve people’s educational experience based on their unique strengths, needs, flaws, and aspirations.

7. Enrollment in the University of Everywhere will be lifelong. Instead of checking into a single college for a few years on the cusp of adulthood, people will form relationships with learning organizations that last decades based on their personal preferences, circumstances, and needs.

8. Unlike today, belonging to a learning organization will not involve massive expenses and crippling amounts of debt.

9. Instead of four-year bachelor’s degrees and two-year associate’s degrees, students will accumulate digital evidence of their learning throughout their lives, information that will be used to get jobs, access new educational opportunities, and connect with other learners.

But the writer also warns that it will be a challenging task. Because standards will rise exponentially with the most talented and motivated students in the world and it requires sustained hard work that authentic education requires.

So here is the answer to the big question that people (well-meaning friends and relatives, ESPECIALLY relatives) ask us why our kids are not in college? Because…..

“I sensed that the University of Everywhere was out there, somewhere, waiting in the near future, a blurred outline that was beginning to come into view.” (Kevin Carey)

If you are inspired by the idea, please READ THE BOOK.

If you are still unconvinced, please READ THE BOOK!

If you are mildly curious, please READ THE BOOK.

If you’re not, READ THE BOOK ANYWAYS!

Because this is our future in the business of knowledge-creation and assimilation as well as dissemination. And we are standing right where the action has already started!

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