Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Well, there is another entry into to the burgeoning field of services that offer unbundled higher education to anyone interested in and willing to do it in a non-traditional situation. UnCollege  is the brainchild of a Dale Stephens, who left his freshmen year at Hendrix College because he thought it was a waste of his time. His goal is to create a learning environment in which learners can learn what they want, when they want to learn. He is developing social networking supporters and is partnering with a group named RadMatter to develop assessments that will allow UnCollege learners to communicate productively with possible employers. I am hopeful that Stephens might also take a look at KNEXT - College Credit Advisers for academic assessment equivalents.
Stephens represents a different demographic from learners who use web-based, online learning because they must, for geographic or scheduling, or other personal reasons. He has simply decided that the traditional collegiate path is too expensive and time-consuming with too little payoff for him. And he has decided to create what he terms "home schooling for higher education" as a viable alternative. In this case he is more parallel to the high school seniors who have received scholarships from a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, Peter Thiel  founder of PayPal, to come invent with him instead of going to a top tier college. He, and they, are betting that the creativity of the innovation white space, coupled with the resources of the web and the opportunity to invent will create a better learning environment than even the best colleges in the country.
Like StraighterLine, KNEXT, and Western Governors University, as examples and DIY U (Anya Kamenetz, 2010) and Harnessing America's Wasted Talent (Smith, 2010) as writings, UnCollege is yet another indicator that the web is increasingly going to support revolutionary learning opportunities that will pressure traditional educational structures, economics, and traditions heavily. For more on this emerging "New Culture of Learning" see the book by the same name written by Douglas Thomas and John Seeley Brown earlier this year.

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