TED Conversations

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 22 2012: A degree is meant to give you the skills to carry out the research yourself. If people are genuinely interested in what they studied and the area in which they work, there won't be any problem keeping up to date.
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      Aug 22 2012: Or... Maybe UCLA, has a bit more time, money, and doctors at their disposal, so they do better research than I do. That's just one possible scenario.
      • Aug 22 2012: This is true, but what stops you from reading their research?
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          Aug 22 2012: Copyright and or patent law?

          Nothing actually, in most cases. However, if every five years each department collected the most important new research in my degree field, into a 40 hour lecture, and then let me take a test on it to prove I'm up to date... I would pay for that product.

          Many people would not. If I was in a rough economy, that would give me a leg up... I think someone's gonna generate some serious revenue with this... and it's probably going to be UC Berkeley. I'm a bit overconfident at times however, so this may just be a manifestation of that.

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