Tag Archives: Chronicle of Higher Ed

What is the Cost of PhD-level Intellect These Days?

Apparently my idea of an Open PhD has garnered a little attention as I’ve been seeing reader referrals from some interesting and diverse sites. Occasionally, for fun, I follow these blog stats trying to guess how my readers may have landed here. It’s my own little way of understanding the broad reach of social media and† how connected we’ve all become.

Recently, I was intrigued to find a mention about my blog from a professor at SFSU who, according to her brief post on her Ning discussion forum, she “…mentioned this [Open PhD blog] in my ITEC 800” course.† She linked to my blog and asked others, “What do you think?”† Catherine’s answer framed the issue quite well.† She responded:

To me, this the $64,000 question for advanced education in the coming years –will universities still be the only way to legitimize one’s learning or, given advancements in communication technologies, will there be some way to qualify independent intellectual attainment? And even now, is there a way to measure what a PhD means (other than the $40-60+++ thousand one has spent to gain it)?

You can read the rest of Catherine’s post here.† The other pertinent point she made was when she added a statement that I’ve come to realize as well reading through the comments on Open PhD. She wrote:

It might also help for universities to better define what constitutes a PhD-level intellect in this information-rich world.

In the short time this blog has been up and running, we’ve already seen that debate begin to play out as doctoral readers from different parts of the world compare the various gauntlets they’ve had to run to earn their credentials.† I think it may surprise more than a few people to find out that not all degrees are created equal world-wide…or even nationwide.

Catherine asks the question: Is it the dollars spent that determines the legitimacy of the degree?

If the answer is a quietly whispered “yes” that no one willingly admits out loud, then I am guessing the PhD earners from a school in my state like Old Dominion University can’t hold their own to our doctoral neighbors a little to the north at George Washington University . Anybody want to take that bet? I didn’t think so, yet the Tuition and Fee Rankings for all US institutions of higher education listed at the Chronicle of Higher Education let me set up this intellectual monetary showdown for any number of states and their PhD’s all day long.

If the answer is “no” – that the amount of money spent on a graduate education does not define how we separate the intellectually rigorous advanced degree seekers from the dog with the MBA, than how do we do it? Plenty of people are looking into that right now.

And why can’t we† legitimately allow the attainment of advanced degrees by alternate routes devoid of the almighty dollar?

The answer is we can…if we want to.


Posted by on October 20, 2009 in The Plan


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Is the Sky Falling for OCW?

In this just released article in The Chronicle of Higher Education writer Marc Parry laments that open courses at universities such as MIT and Yale may soon be a thing of the past due to economics.

Colleges, too, are grappling with the limits of this global online movement. Enthusiasts think open courses have the potential to uplift a nation of Zieglers by helping them piece together cheaper degrees from multiple institutions. But some worry that universities’ projects may stall, because the recession and disappearing grant money are forcing colleges to confront a difficult question: What business model can support the high cost of giving away your “free” content?

Parry later goes on to quote David Wiley and his blogged prediction of the future:

The education oracle [Wiley] offers another prophecy for open courseware. ‘Every OCW initiative at a university that does not offer distance courses for credit,’ he has blogged, ‘will be dead by the end of calendar 2012.’

As a fledgling in the open education movement, even I have wondered how this movement could be sustained:

…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?

Is open education dead even as it becomes¬† mainstream?¬† Will it become a different entity altogether, perhaps a far cry from the one its early forefather’s imagined, but something that still provides learning to the masses – freely?¬† How will the international open education movement shape the US policy and vice versa?

I’d love to know your opinions.


Posted by on October 12, 2009 in The Plan


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