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David Hamilton


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Should degrees have "patches"?

Simple enough starting point. In the modern world our knowledge base is expanding so quickly that 5 years after you get a degree, quite a bit of what you learned is obselete, and quite a few important discoveries have been made. If you go into business, or government research, you may actually surpass the knowledge on any degree program, in your specific discipline... But, you'll still miss out on advances in your field of study, that do not apply to your business, or research.

Should modern universities offer degree patches, the way software companies offer patches. Every 5 years or so, each school is meant to design a one or two week online course, specifically designed to keep people who have already been granted degrees, in touch with the most up to date information in the field.

Having these patches on your degree, would then be quite valuable in the eyes of an employer I imagine. Some companies may even offer to pay for you to go get your patch...

Kinda seems like a no brainer to me.


Closing Statement from David Hamilton

Very fun and engaging discussion. Personally, I think MIT should get busy on this. Unlike many people here, however, I believe that proving knowledge and skills is the purpose of education. I believe every child is naturally curious, we don't teach them to be creative, we do the opposite. Teaching facts we know about the universe, or even ones we believe to be true because of a preponderance of evidence, has a place, and it's an incredibly important institution, one in desperate need of modern reform. As a bonus, first institution to do it well, gets an incredible revenue stream. Peace and love.

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  • Aug 7 2012: I'm a bit baffled how nobody has mentioned that these things already exist.
    You mentioned that you feel more and more that this is a seelable product. It is.
    Companies send their employees on advanced trainings ALL THE TIME. Heck, it's required in many fields. And it indeed is what distinguishes you from others and get's you ahead in the company ladder. Lot's of people earn their living providing such advanced trainings.
    No need to reinvent the wheel.

    And as far as universities go: Usually they do update their curriculum to reflect the current knowledge. Why should they be responsible for what happens after they've provided their service (education) to you? - unless they charge, which some might already do.
    It is your responsibility to keep yourself informed in your field of work or else you'll become obsolete. And there's enough tools to do that. Free and commercial.

    p.s.: The effectivness of these trainings is another problem. However, that would apply to the university- patches, too.
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      Aug 7 2012: I'm baffled by how few people seem to understand this concept. I'm not talking about advanced training. I'm not talking about requiring everyone who graduates to apply for patches. I'm not talking about universities being responsible for what happens next.

      I am saying, that every few years, we update majors with new information. We send that information to teachers who will teach the major. Why can't I buy access to that update, and then take a test on it, to prove that my knowledge is up to date?

      And no... I can't, this is a completely unique and new idea. I am saying that I would like to know what is different about a degree granted today, than when I graduated, so that I know I have all the skills of my younger counterparts. If someone could offer me this service, I would probably pay for it.

      I can't believe no one has done this yet. Apparently, everyone thinks they are smarter than their university, and they learn everything better on their own though... Maybe it's not as marketable as I thought.

      I know that if I was 70, and had a degree in Electrical Engineering from 1970, I would be interested to see if there was anything I missed in the last 42 years. Especially, if I was looking for a new job.

      I know if I was about to employ someone with a 20 year old degree, part of me would be wondering "did this person keep up to date?"
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        Aug 7 2012: I believe I got the topic, just by reading you topic title. "Patches" as in, like every few weeks a game or something that you downloaded would update itself. In the way you say "degrees" you mean that every few years or so, students would go back get updated information for their major. Similar concept, but very revolutionary.
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          Aug 7 2012: It really makes me wonder how many people are still sewing, more often than they use computer software.
      • Aug 22 2012: well, in my opinion, your work experience after your degree really provides for that. if i have a 20 year old degree and a solid work experience of 20 years after that, no one will ask me what i have done in my degree. but to prove that i am capable, i have to tell them that i have a cumulative work experience through which i have been up-to-date.

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