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Monday, March 23, 2015
Admission to the University of Everywhere
As college costs continue to rise and competition for admission accelerates to near impossible levels, more and more educators are discussing alternative paradigms in higher education. In his book, The End of College: Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere, author Kevin Carey envisions a sort of equal-opportunity utopia where universities no longer hold the best knowledge under lock and key.

His theories (impossible to consolidate into a short blog entry) are based upon the ubiquity of information now available to people via technology. This isn't too say that Google Scholar will offer the same education as Harvard. But the on-line "open university" model is one that is becoming increasingly viable.

Students who can't afford bricks and mortar universities are learning that education can be available at their fingertips. Such a model is also more workable for older students, and students who may already have families or full-time jobs. Carey talks specifically about an on-line course in Introductory Biology that he once took on line. It was essentially taped lectures from an MIT course. He took the same exams and read the same textbooks as the MIT students. What, then, he ponders, is the difference in the quality of the two educational experiences?

Carey's theory is based upon the idea that the entire college system is merely one that perpetuates privilege. We feel we need college in order to get better jobs. But college admission is largely limited to children who are already socio-economically privileged. Carey calls it not a system of opportunity but "a system of replicating privilege that already exists".

Exploring the cost-benefits of on-line education is just one way of unpacking the ways in which education could (and should) be made more accessible. Could the University of Everywhere really become a possibility?

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