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Stacey Simmons

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Unify universities into networks that take advantage of each other's expertise.

Universities can no longer be universal. We must instead eliminate the competition between colleges and universities and instead create collaborative systems that allow for sharing across institutional lines. Let students choose, and let schools recognize their peers. What instead has happened is that empire building happens in the development of great institutions, but there are far too many specialties for a single institution to be able to contain specialists in every domain. So instead we must collaborate across institutional lines in teaching these specialties without having to require students to move around the country to study a specialty that they only THINK they might be good at or adapt to.

How do we take the idea of an Open Education and give credit for it? An open education is wonderful, but it is not YET possible to act as a democratizing force, because the system still respects a degree above experience, unless the experience is extraordinary.

It is possible, but it is so difficult to become extraordinary unless you are associated with an extraordinary place. This geospatial hegemony is unfair. Some people don't want to, or cannot leave where they are, they should not be kept from participating in creative, intensive study, learning, and productivity.

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    Oct 10 2011: It is a great idea Stacy! I think that there are two functions of an educational institution. 1. teach and educate; 2. evaluate and certify. Since everyone has to survive, evaluation and certification happens on the curriculum offered by the same institution with some level of standardization.

    In my opinion, education has to happen first so if there is a database of universities, their courses and open access to online material, at least people will be able to learn if not certified. As a business model, universities can still charge full amount of the course for certification.

    I have worked at a global scale collaboration project and the biggest barrier I found in the way of knowledge sharing is the fear of losing the edge or competitive advantage. If this can be addressed in a model, people can become more open towards knowledge sharing.

    Your story seems to be very interesting. How are you finding your experience so far? How many universities and educational institutions are signed up to share their courses on your site? What is working and not working for you?
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      Oct 21 2011: You know, Hassan, I've been working in higher ed for some time and although I've understood the functions you mention I've never seen it communicated so succinctly. We so often forget part 2. Because this is such an important function, it's what will (in my opinion) prevent the predicted end of the university I keep hearing about from certain bloggers. It's also what makes it so valuable to employers. Finding a way to make our institutions more open but also maintaining those high standards will be the challenge.
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      Oct 27 2011: Universities are hard to motivate. They like the way things are done now, and many expect to be able to grow in order to meet the current demands of students. However, they currently grow with little cutting back of old programs that no longer are as competitive or necessary. This is in many ways not a bad thing- for example nuclear engineering has gone away on many campuses, but now there is increased demand- so had it been entirely market driven, it would be gone entirely. There needs to be a middle ground- where things don't go away entirely, but they're scalable when they need to be.

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