One reader posted this comment and I thought it was an interesting way to suggest the conferring of “credentials” for an Open PhD (I’ve reposted it along with my reply for your scrolling convenience):
This is a very nice initiative. I am sure it you are going to inspire many people who have thought of doing a PhD, but lacked the resources.
As for credentials, I wonder if they can be crowdsourced. What if you maintain a blog and wiki as you make progress in the PhD. Some sort of rating system (and comments) on the blog posts, maybe podcasts of what would traditionally be presentations, and a real project which is visible to everyone on the Internet, may all accumulate towards crowdcourced credentials. It may not be conferred by a university but it will be conferred by the “wise crowd”
This is precisely where I was going with my idea – I am hoping to shape and refine it over time with helpful suggestions from those already in possession of the knowledge I seek. I’m sure there are plenty of things I haven’t yet considered, and plenty of naysayers who feel doctoral study/research can only be done in its traditional box. I just don’t happen to be one of them. As for what my final specific research will be…who knows? Do traditional brick and mortar students know what their PhD dissertation research will be as soon as they earn their masters – especially in the education field? I highly doubt it. I came up through the public school teaching ranks and moved into higher education as an adjunct. I completed my M.Ed in 1994. This 2009. What I was passionate about researching in the mid 90s would probably make me chuckle with my knowledge base and hard-won experience now. I have a lot of interests in the area of educational technology – I will whittle my interests down to a very specific area of research and a good research question with the help of my committee of (how many readers will I have by that time??? – lol) as this project develops and the program takes shape. In the meantime – look at the background material I am gathering and learning from already: open education, open courseware availability, advanced Twitter skills (archiving here I come) , and the fact that this topic is definitely touching a nerve in the edusphere if my blog stats are to be believed. But in a general sense – I know my area of inquiry already – can this be done?
As a writer, I do know we write from what we know. And I know this. The gap between those who can afford college easily and those who cannot is real. It has little to do with intelligence, initiative, gpa, or the student’s neighborhood school. I want my PhD. But I am 43. I have two kids and a stepson in college right now. I am place-bound by my husband’s job as a contractor with the military. Does that mean I am less interested in my academic career? No. It means I have a real life that I am bound to support along side my academic one. They are equally important to me.
I do have one luxury. My academic career has evolved to an online one. Now, so has my education. It is no longer place-bound or even institutionally-bound. And finally, due to this flash of an idea, the last educational hurdle will not be financially-bound any longer either.