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DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education Paperback – April 1, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Kamenetz, author of the alarming personal finance expose Generation Debt, drops another bombshell on the emerging cohort of young Americans, this time regarding higher education. While she mounts a standard (though illuminating) attack on spiraling tuition and the bottomless pit of student loans, Kamenetz also questions the fundamental assumptions of modern American education culture: the twin, contradictory ideas that college must be universally accessible, and that the smallest accepted denomination of educational currency is a bachelor's degree from a four-year, liberal arts institution. Kamenetz explores those ideas' fallacies as they play out daily in American classrooms, as well as students' myriad alternatives, from community colleges to online learning collectives. In great detail, Kamenetz explains the flawed economic models that underpin higher education, the faulty premises they maintain and the government's failures to address them. Kamenetz's approach is methodical and balanced, showcasing extensive research and thoughtfulness, while acknowledging one of the chief problems with reform: no one wants to experiment on their own child. This volume merits consideration from high school students and their parents, as well as educators preparing a generation for uncertain job prospects, an information economy still in its infancy, and the steady erosion of geographical barriers.
Kamenetz (Generation Debt, 2006) tackles the U.S. higher education system. Starting with a history of college development, she delves into how poverty, race, and class converge in the halls of higher learning. She then asserts that everything about how we live and what we hope for is tied into the collegiate dream of success, which has been persistently sold to the American middle class. But why hasn’t this promise been fulfilled for so many? Kamenetz pinpoints political reasons, and makes the case that serious changes must be made pertaining to how colleges serve their students and make their money to prevent a decrease in the value of college degrees and a widening gap between social classes. Kamenetz offers many statistics and studies to back up her statements, yet she moves so quickly from one to the next, and this is such a short book for such a weighty topic, it ends up being a useful introductory summary rather than a source of in-depth conclusions. --Colleen Mondor
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He was right. I've long since realized that I could have gotten the same knowledge from a set of books that would fit on a single shelf. Countless others have told me similar stories.
As the author points out, education has become a sacred cow in our society. At the same time the college degree has become the universally accepted measure of how much a person knows. These factors have given school administrators nearly unlimited ability to gouge students, parents and the government, raising tuition at a pace far higher than justified by inflation.
The winners in this multi-trillion dollar scheme are the schools, which have been turned into resorts complete with swimming pools, climbing walls and saunas. The losers are students, especially the economically challenged ones who have trouble paying the ever rising costs.
Fortunately this dismal situation is changing. The author shows how technology is doing an end run around the greedy elitists who have profited from the status quo. Online coursework, self-directed learning, community colleges, and free distribution of textbooks and lectures are all making the dream of higher education available to anyone with the desire and self-discipline to do the necessary work.
As the book points out, the traditional problem with this approach has been the challenge with assessing how much the self-learner actually knows. But this barrier is dissolving, due to alternative methods of proving one's learning such as CLEP tests, professional certifications and acedemic protfolios. The only ones unhappy with these developments are professors and university presidents, who are watching their control over millions of lives and billions of dollars slip away.
The author does a splendid job of showing how this revolution in education is bringing unprecedented opportunities to people of all ages, regardless of their financial status. She also tells the readers how they may access these resources for themselves. Her writing style is decidedly non-elitist, and the information in this book could help virtually anyone to acquire new skills and increase their economic well-being. This work gets my highest recommendation.
But good that books such as this are finally addressing the higher ed crisis.
As a college student, the need for DIY U cannot be understated. However, the author is a tad idealistic in her analysis of the situation. Although she claims to believe in there being no such thing as a free lunch, there are many instances where she talks about free education and the need for it, without taking into account the financial impact on the university.
All of that being said, DIY U was an informative read! I would buy it now if you are planning to though; as suggested by the author, this information may be out-of-date in just a few years.