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Open Loop University

A concept raised by Stanford D. School to imagine a whole new higher education model

Photo of Xiaofan Liang
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For the whole description of Open Loop University, go to 

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It's a concept raised by Stanford D. School, but it's not sure whether it will be able to implement yet. 

I really like this concept because it's a holistic solution to many drawbacks of the current education system. Affordability is just one of them, or I will even argue it's a by-product of the new education model. Another aspect is that it works within the constraints of races, ages and a small scale of local change without lowering the value of its education and avoid the difficulty of collaborating with other universities. 

One of the consequences I can imagine is that it will lower the credibility of diploma in a positive way because people may not be able to get their diploma at their young ages. If the employers can start assessing employee based on their skills rather than grades and diploma, it will also allow people who do alternative education based on different resources thrive in this environment.

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

When we think about solution to lower the cost, you might think it in a holistic way. How is it interrelated with other agents in the system, what intervention will impact the whole and what consequences it will have based on network effect.


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Photo of Dan Waite

Thanks for sharing!  I would guess that there are ways you can be "open loop" but still have the credibility of a degree. If you get rid of the idea of "graduation" and build in flexibility - students could, for example, start working while they are still taking classes - each student at their own pace. At some point they would complete enough "units" to have a Bachelor's degree, but if you've built an open loop culture, you could continue to take classes as there are things you want/need to learn, and at some point that could add up to an additional graduate degree or certifications - but all at the life-long student's own pace...

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