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Unlimited Learning

Let's facilitate open-ended learning by selling college credits the same way we sell wireless minutes: unlimited

Photo of Joel Gingery

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Who is the target audience for your idea and how does it reimagine the cost of college?

Our audience is education stakeholders:policy makers, government, civic and economic leaders, parents, teachers and students; anyone interested in expanding individual and group learning opportunities and/or improving educational system performance. Unlimited learning encourages fundamental changes in our interactions with the learning system(s) that translate to fundamental changes in the learning system:repository to exploratory; from top-down hierarchy to network; from teaching to learning.

One of the most significant evolutions in recent educational literature concerns the core notion of learning.  In a massive shift of attitudes, learning is now broadly acknowledged as poorly understood and immensely complex.   Altering how we 'buy' the opportunities to learn can trigger a fundamental transformation of the educational system.

We prefer to purchase 'unlimited' amounts of wireless minutes and/or data for a set price/time period because we feel  less constrained in how we use them.  Less constraint encourages experimentation, questioning or simply playing, all of which are associated with  learning , creativity and innovation.  When we purchase an opportunity to learn that is finite, closed ended, single subject, our imagination closes down, too.  Changing the way we purchase learning opportunities, i.e. credit hours, courses, etc., from the current compartmentalized and predetermined education system, to an open-ended, flexible and responsive alternative will prod  students, professors and administrators to experiment to continually improve learning. 

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

We could explore the concept with interested education leaders. It would be interesting to set up a series of experimental situations in local elementary schools and colleges attended by interested individuals and education professionals and see what happens. Comparing the results of each age group with one another might be interesting.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

Perhaps guidance in rapid modeling of the theory and experimental findings.

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Attachments (2)

unstoppable learning.mp3

Host Guy Raz talks with TED speakers about the different ways babies and children learn — from the womb, to the playground, to the web. (Original broadcast date: May 3, 2013)


Join the conversation:

Photo of Lucy Chen

how do you hold people accountable if learning opportunities are less reclusive and 'privileged' ?

Photo of Joel Gingery

Hi Lucy,
What an excellent question!  I would like to have a definitive answer for you, but I think it is an evolutionary process where providers (teachers) work to create the situations that they think will give their students the experiences and skills that teachers - and students - value.   I'm not familiar enough with this process to establish goals, evaluations, etc., but I'm wondering if it might not involve communication between the teacher, the student, the curriculum committee, other teachers, and so forth; that is, a constant evaluation to try to meet and measure students' and teachers' expectations so that it would be amorphous and reflect individual students' situations, expectations and desires.  Some of the first steps in developing measures are understanding what 'education' means to each stakeholder and what is actually occurring in the system now.  (Importantly, it helps to understand education as a complex system, and interventions need to be carefully evaluated from this perspective.)  Once you know ideal goals from each stakeholders perspective, one can start to make changes in the system.  In answer to your question then I might ask you to think about what the ideal scholastic situation might be; i.e. what is/are the current goal(s) of the education system and what what are the ideal goals?  Then how would you go about moving the system toward that ideal goal?  This is where unlimited learning comes in as it forces stakeholders to re-consider education outside their pre-concieved ideas and stimulates discussion.  Does this help?  If not I can perhaps supply some references.

Photo of Lucy Chen

I personally resonate with the idea of unlimited learning a lot. However, out there, I see many attempts to open up the limited educational resources, like coursera. It is good. In the same time, we see very low completion rates on coursera. I don't think it should be attributed to the inactive online learning platform alone. The accountability issue is a complex question, although we would love everyone to be a learner. 

Photo of Joel Gingery

Hi Lucy,
I recently came across a thought provoking video that I wanted to share with you:   'Radical Ideas for Reinventing College' from the d.School at Stanford.
Joel Gingery

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