Jeff Klagenberg

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A key to empowering each person to build their own education is creating alternatives to traditional degrees

It is clear that receiving a good eduction is a powerful tool to prosperity. But the measure of that education usually comes via a degree. And to get a degree an individual needs to adhere to a set curriculum with educational institution. This means advancement to a degree is limited.

Creating a robust set credentials that could be achieve based on merits regardless of curriculum would provide tremendous value. Current examples exist where testing knowledge beyond a degree is important, such as a CPA, the Bar Exam, Professional Engineer, …

In general the evaluation of the education today is down via the degree and the GPA. This means schools are both the teachers and the evaluators of students. While this is useful in many contexts the degree is often not a great measure of things like success in the workforce.

So having a set of credentials that individuals can achieve separate from where they obtain education has two key benefits. First, it allows each of us to benefit from advancing our education even if we can’t adhere to a fixed curriculum in a fixed timeline. Second, it gives employers better insight into the capabilities of individuals.

While I think institutions should still offer degrees I believe there would be a powerful benefit to creating a separate evaluation / certification process for people to advance on.

  • Mar 30 2014: The majority of classes required for an under-graduate degree have nothing to do with the subject the person wants to study. Universities and colleges use that system because they want students to spend at least 4 years in that program for financial reasons so they pad the degree with extraneous and in most cases useless credit requirements.

    The US government has went along with that system because if many young people were able to graduate quicker they would flood the job market and there are not enough jobs to go around so the degree program is a way to slow down that graduation rate and it eliminates many young people because they can not afford the program or drop out before getting the degree for various reasons.

    What we need is less formal degree programs and more technical and vocational colleges with a focus on getting people the skills they need for a job and linking that to a field that needs people in a certain geographical area.

    One of the most needed educations is in entrepreneurship and starting and running a business.
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      Mar 30 2014: Argos,

      While I agree that a less formal system would be good. I have to point out the current growth in degrees has been driven by employers hiring and paying more for employees with degrees, This has less to do with the government as it does perceived value by employers.

      I also agree that education on hon to start a business would be good.

      All the best,
      • Mar 30 2014: What I see is employers want people with the basic training and that have proven they can learn and are motivated. Most companies put new employees through rigorous and ongoing training specific to that industry and most of that training is not included in a college degree program and has to be learned on the job.

        I think businesses would be just as happy to get new employees that have the basic training without all the excess degree baggage as long as they knew the employee had a proven level of knowledge and had proven themselves capable of learning.

        I am talking about starting level positions not advanced degree positions which many times are paid for by a corporation as part of ongoing training.
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          Mar 30 2014: But there is nothing that stops an employer from hiring people without degrees, or from paying them as highly as people with degrees. If people ended up as successful without starting with a degree they'd probably do so.

          But getting a degree does yield a higher salary, because employers do pay more for people with a degree. Starting salaries are higher and unemployment lower for college degrees even for entry level positions.

          Maybe companies should not value degrees this way, but as long as they do pay more for degrees people will get degrees. I'd like to see employers use other measures but it they'd need to be confident that it will lead them to the best employees.
      • Mar 30 2014: Actually there is something that stops them and it is the internal grapevine. Companies rarely hire a person without a degree that would be supervising someone with a degree because the internal corporate food chain would soon know about it and cause major issues.

        Some employers are starting to step out of that box but it will take time.
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    Mar 26 2014: It's correct idea, our brains leaning technique like stuck building first information based on another, so if we make each person learn different way we'll get a different output. Isn't our society like a hash function?
  • Mar 26 2014: "A key to empowering each person to build their own education is creating alternatives to traditional degrees"

    It is a good idea , but how to make it acceptable to both the schools , teachers and the students.
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      Mar 26 2014: As an alternative not replacement for degrees and curriculum It doesn't really require direct support of schools or teachers. It really needs to be accepted by students and employers,

      The first step is really creating a consolidated list of existing credentials that are not tie directly to a specific school, e.g. Bar Exams and list out places to get material to prep for it. Then work with employers to create new credentials.

      Of course it is important not to get in the way of existing educational curriculum and to work with teachers.
      • Mar 30 2014: Why do we need to certify a lion that he is lion and certify a tiger that he is a tiger ?

        In the fields like sports,Martial arts, Music and Acting certificate holds no value , the person's actions and performance is itself a certificate.

        When a person commits a crime then does he thinks this way :

        O' I don't have degree in crime , otherwise I would have committed a crime.

        No, he doesn't he just commits the crime. Has anyone given him the certificate that he is eligible to commit a crime.

        Why can't we have an education system where not much will be focused on acquiring certificate and degree , but the focus will be on acquiring and learning the knowledge,skills,abilities , Intelligence.

        One question I would like to ask you :

        What is the formula of Benzene ?


        Could you explain how blood circulation takes place in our body ?


        How does blood clotting takes place when we are injured ?

        These are the things which I am sure you have had studied in your school time .

        So , Without taking reference from any book or even Google ? Just answer them based on what you remember .
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          Mar 30 2014: Dear :-) :-)

          You,bring up good points. First let me say what I am proposing is not meant to be a solution for all endeavors but rather an improvement / addition to the degree system in place today. The issue to me is that a degree represents successful conclusion of a fixed curriculum. So it does not allow for someone they have successfully gone through material from different sources. If you’d like there is no equivalent of winning a set of competitions instead of obtaining a degree in engineering.

          Now more directly to your points.

          Do we need to certify a tiger is a tiger or a lion is a lion? No, though if there was ambiguity for some reason, say finding a miscarried embryo we could do a genetic test to determine which animal it was. Also, a lion does not get to be a lion by going through a curriculum.

          The fields you mention have both a degree program and external certification program. For example in Acting one can get an MFA in dramatic arts or go to dedicated acting schools both of these would be ways of getting started in the field. There are also awards given (i.e. external certifications) such as a Tony or an Oscar. These are awarded by a group looking at the output of actors and deciding which ones should be awarded. It is a very rigorous certification but still one just the same. Also these particular external certifications can greatly affect an actor’s career.

          In your other examples there are belts, competition programs etc.. Sports has a whole industry of individuals paid to gather information and rate players to recruit. Don’t confuse lack of a written test as lake of a certification, competitions and performance statistics are just another way of certifying someone. For this is missing in many fields, a way for individuals to learn and have a way to show to the world what they have learned without a degree. The profession you emanations are great examples where this alternative does exist, so I am very glad you brought them up.
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          Mar 30 2014: Your next question is very important to me so I want to repeat it for everyone - we should all ask this question!!

          “Why can't we have an education system where not much will be focused on acquiring certificate and degree , but the focus will be on acquiring and learning the knowledge,skills,abilities , Intelligence.”

          Education should focus on learning. But most often we pursue a degree not to get educated but to be employed. This had led to a system where the educators, schools, both educate and evaluate students. I see this as limiting. I like a system where if someone wants to be evaluated they should be able to do so, just like a dancer who decides to compete. If they don’t they can still get educated and choose not to compete. Ideally the schools would focus on being a place for students to learn and evaluation would happen somewhere else. Then students could choose where to “compete” in more professional subjects. Schools would still be the best way, just not the only way into a profession.
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          Mar 30 2014: On your last “3” question quiz my answers are below, but first I’d like o point out I an not suggesting an arbitrary closed book quiz is how certifications should happen (competitions are another example which are not appropriate in all cases). But since you asked here are my answers using only what is currently in my head. BTW I have a physics degree and work professionally in software so very limited practice in chemistry, anatomy or medical background. Also I know you only asked me to answer one question, but choosing to try all three

          1. What is the formula of Benzene?

          I remember that Benzene is the win component in Gasoline and is a hydrocarbon believe it is something like C4H8 (sorry can’t do subscripts here

          2. Could you explain how blood circulation takes place in our body?

          Blood is driven through our body by a four chamber pump (the heart) pushing blood into our arteries. The arteries lead to capillaries that deliver oxygenated blood and retrieve de-oxygenated blood. The blood then flows into our veins (relying on way way vales to keep blood from flowing backwards to the capillaries as the heart pumps. Te veins then lead back tot he heart. BTW the hear itself relies on constricting each of the four chambers and a connection of one way valves to keep the blood flowing properly.

          3. How does blood clotting takes place when we are injured?

          Ok this one is a lot shakier, but what I do remember here is that when an injury that causes belle ding does occur that some sort of coagulant moves to the areas and attracts and groups platelets form the blood. Also if exposed to air those clumps of platelets dry out and form a scab. The only other thing that I remember here is that vitamin K is an important nutrient to support coagulation.

          Thank you again for your comments

          All the best,
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    Mar 26 2014: Good idea, Jeff.