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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.

This idea emerged from

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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)

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Photo of Lucy Chen
Team

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

Photo of Joel Gingery
Team

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
Team

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
Team

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

Photo of Gavin Cosgrave
Team

Joel, 
As we move towards refining and improving this idea, I think it would be beneficial to really outline a specific process that an administrator (if that's your audience) could pick up and use. What, exactly, does purchasing "unlimited" courses mean? Why would a college be interested in testing that? 
One good way to make the idea tangible is through a user experience map: https://d3gxp3iknbs7bs.cloudfront.net/attachments/5c28e26a-ba7f-44f4-859b-e82658264287.pdf 

Photo of Joel Gingery
Team

Gavin,
Nice to have you on board and thanks for the suggestions.  If you want we can use Slack to communicate 'off-site'.  If you send me your email address I'll send you and invitation.  joelgingery@gmail.com
I like the user experience map and hope to go thru the the process it describes.  Currently my thoughts have been on which idea(s) to combine to create the idea we want to go with.   It seems to me that creating the opportunity for students that wouldn't normally have one to attend college  is a priority nationally.  So the 'Learning-Centered Community Building' seems to me to be the foundation of the project.  Can you please share your idea(s)? We welcome your perspective.   I'm wondering about incorporating our other idea(s), old and new, into the higher-ed piece.  Would it be a good idea to re-imagine the college experience for student's from our community, i.e. should we re-imagine college to incorporate useful idea(s), or stick with standard college functioning? My thoughts now picture establishing a new program in a community college or state university that is publicly funded but privately (or independently) run.  With that basis we could set up several different options for students, both from our community and from outside it, that incorporate our various ideas (unlimited learning, DRG-like guarantees, vouchers, and focus on students selecting the value proposition they want, sort of like an experiment).   One possibility might be setting up an independent program within a cc or a regular state university that is a 'charter college'.  Our students along with other regular students could select it or a standard program.  Within the charter the administration is free to establish programs to test, like UL or DRG guarantees, or say  a program that creates a 'value' environment that responds more readily to student needs, maybe project based.  In line with OpenIDEO it would be necessary to explore possibilities with actual students, teachers and administrators, to get their suggestions.  Looking forward to your take on all this.
PS:  The community program is not a cookie cutter program, but responsive to community input in its acceptance and design so there are going to be a number of issues, combinations and permutations that the community would have to work thru to get it right for their particular setting. (Some communities may not accept or be accepted.)  In other words, international development projects have shown that the affected people must be in control and make the decisions.  Besides graduating people, the community and its members need to learn, too.

Photo of Andrew Ciszczon
Team

Another great concept Joel! Love to help if you have room on the team. Cheers

Photo of Joel Gingery
Team

Hi, Andrew,
Thank you for the compliment and interest!  There is plenty of room for you and anyone else who would like to collaborate.  Welcome aboard!  Thanks for mentioning Udacity, which I wasn't aware of, but now I love it.   It actualizes many of the concepts I've tried to incorporate in my ideas.   Could be a good model?   It would be good to share thoughts about how we should advance.  My email is joelgingery@gmail.com.  

Photo of Andrew Ciszczon
Team

Udacity is definitely something to consider as a model. Another platform/tool I recently came across is Degreed. The 2 together offer something even better. I'll shoot you an email later today. Cheers

Photo of Alexandra Alden
Team

Hi Joel, Alex here from Path to Pitching, good start! Glad to see you’re interesting in making your idea real and pitching it to our network of accelerators! To get your idea pitch ready you'll need to form a team, then get out in the community and talk to your users to validate your problem and customers. Once you've done that start prototyping as soon as possible.

Check out our Human Centered Milestones, they are intended to help you on your Path to Pitching: http://bit.ly/1N6hgbQ

Learn more about the Path to Pitching: http://bit.ly/1HzPkeV

Photo of Joel Gingery
Team

Gavin and Shane, Thank you for your patience; I was out of the country w/o internet access. Regarding your questions, Gavin: not to dodge your question, but the implementation would depend on the provider, learner and institution; a constant exchange of information, exploration and experimentation and feedback from users and providers. That said, the basic premise is that education is no longer about learning facts that can be brought up in given situations; i.e. one can access information via google et. at. Additionally, similar to manufacturing, education is thought of as a linear series of operations that a specialized worker, the teacher, parses into incomplete tasks that are given to the student as an incomplete product. This model was great for GM, but not for modern, flexible, rapidly innovating companies that must keep up with an ever more rapidly evolving environment that demands companies be capable of rapid change; to be able to transform ideas into products in what once were unthinkably brief time periods. The same adaptations to complexity that business and manufacturing adopted over 30 years ago have not been taken up by education. E.g. discussion of the purpose of schooling framed around preparation for the 'adult' world that assumes linear developmental sequence and a stable world. Education is not a closing in on a complete understanding of the universe. Rather, the point is that knowledge can be endlessly elaborated; humanity is presented with an ever-evolving horizon of possibility. The problem is that the horizon is often mistaken as stable and as marking the limit of the knowable. Education, then, conceived in terms of expanding the space of the possible rather than perpetuating entrenched habits of interpretation, must be principally concerned with ensuring the conditions for the emergence of the as-yet un-imagined. In this scenario an education involves a constant interaction of student(s)/learners and educators exploring the current possibilities. This is an ever changing, hopefully ever improving, process, always approaching but never reaching the ideal. Unlimited access to the educational system is only a small part of the adaptations that will need to be made, but it is an important one that allows learners to influence the educational system and in turn be influenced to explore the possibilities. It incorporates a new paradigm. Donella Meadows showed how the most powerful way to change a system is by changing the paradigm, the belief system. So perhaps unlimited learning is just one way to engage the educational community in a dialogue of change.

Photo of Gavin Cosgrave
Team

Joel,
Thanks for sharing! I like the how you're rethinking the way education is consumed. Do you think you could flesh out a little more how this proposal could be applied to current universities? Would I as a student pay by month? And how would I choose classes? How would scheduling change? Would there be fast degree options?
Just a few starting points, great idea!

Photo of Joel Gingery
Team

Gavin,
Thanks for your interest and raising some interesting questions. I'd like to explore some possibilities and share something more concrete with you. Can I get back to you in a couple of days?
Joel

Photo of Shane Zhao
Team

Looking forward to the update Joel! In the meantime, check out these related ideas for inspiration:

Smart Bachelors: https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/higher-ed/ideas/smart-bachelors-with-payable-courses-and-personalized-selection

Pizza for Everyone: https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/higher-ed/ideas/pizza-for-everyone