As this project is taking shape, and is being shaped by suggestions from my learned colleagues on the blogosphere, Twittersphere, and by email, I have the occasional moment to reflect on the comments I have received so far, and my own observations (limited as they are in these beginning stages). My ruminations are in no particular order:
- Science (engineering, in particular), math, and technology courses seem to be the most readily available courses in OCW…is this because they are already in an extended classroom/hybrid/online mode so offering them OCW doesn’t take much more effort, or are those subjects areas more on the cutting edge of the open access movement? (Disclaimer: Their availability is just an impression I have from my completely non-scientific approach to wading through the course offerings of most of the major universities’ OCW, trying to meet my own particular Open PhD needs)
- Things I can do with an Open PhD:
- Point people to a really great blog of my experience
- Provide leadership in the field of OCW, Open Access, and Open Education
- Discuss the topics I’ve learned intelligently
- Discuss the process of being a student of OCW with graduate level courses
- Share my research and dissertation
- Publish my dissertation somewhere
- Write a book about my experience
- Posit the theory that there may be more than one way to approach the doctoral tree of knowledge
- Present at conferences on open education/open access on the topic
- Continue teaching as an adjunct (that’s my M.Ed talking).
- Things I can NOT do with an Open PhD (to my Friendfeed friends – I hope this answers your concerns):
- Put “Dr.” before my name or “PhD” after my name – (these are titles conferred by an accredited institution, and while the “University of OCW-Independent Study” might just provide me with the knowledge I need, I would never try to imply or mislead anyone that I took the same path as those with the papered credentials).
- Receive tenure or a full time academic appointment to a university teaching position – well, I specialize in teaching online…this pretty much wasn’t going to happen anytime soon anyway.
- I am seeing at least three prongs to approach my learning/research: 1) The technological one – simply getting the information in the hands of the learners in the most effective way – both technically and pedagogically/andragogically; 2) a sociological/political approach – how does the digital access to education change the landscape? and 3) and economical approach – while it may be a wonderfully Utopian idea to provide free access to all knowledge, the producers of said knowledge (i.e. book writers, course creators, instructors, researchers, etc.,) all also need to eat and pay bills – how does the “business” survive, if they give the “product” away for free?
- We have charter public K12 schools to explore new ways of doing things, and they are fully accredited. Why don’t we have charter institutions of higher learning for the same idea? Especially in the digital age! For instance, here is one of my ideas for a “Charter University” – a school that simply is a credit clearing house and testing body. For example, if a student wanted a degree in English, “Charter University” would list course descriptions and number of credits required for a standard BA in English – the student could collect these credits from any and all accredited universities/community colleges across the country – submitting transcripts along the way. Once all the course work was completed, the student would sit for a comprehensive exam in the major. If passed, the degree and the accumulated credits/gpa would be awarded. No “in house” residency rule required. If proving a student has the knowledge is what matters, does it really matter from where they got the knowledge?
- 20 something doctoral students who have never left school have a hard time relating to the concerns of 40-something individuals with a career, mortgage, working spouse, kids of their own in college, etc., who would like to complete their last degree but can’t uproot to live a life of academic poverty for three-four years.
As always, your comments and feedback are welcome!