Category Archives: Education Policy

The Rise of the Hacker Space | Update on 3D Printing Venture Camp @GeorgeMasonU

This evening, I was able to work with Arlington Economic Development and Amplifier Ventures in putting on a 3D Printing Venture Camp event at GMU’s Arlington Campus. Dan Wilson of TechShop and Brian Jacoby of Nova-Labs, both hacker spaces, exhibited and sat on our panel.

Turns out that the NY Times published a piece on maker spaces today. Wonder if I can talk someone at Mason into funding maker spaces on our campus? Can we evolve MCSE coworking space and our Startup Mason curriculum into a maker space. We already have innovators from business, liberal arts, comp sci, electrical engineering, physics and design hanging out in our space.

Venture Camp tonight with multiple displays of printers, scanners, and exhibitors talking of materials sciences, rapid prototyping and the evolution of design and manufacturing. Its time for Mason to get into this emerging space.

From Steven Kurutz of the NY Times in The Rise of the Hacker Space:

Hacker spaces like MakerBar — where people gather to build or take things apart, from rockets to circuit boards to LED displays — are hives of innovation, real-world communities made possible by the emergence of virtual communities.

Businesses like Pinterest and MakerBot have grown out of hacker spaces, which have become networking venues for engineers and inventors. But at their most basic level, the 200 or so hacker spaces across the country function as a modern stand-in for the home workshop, especially in urban areas.

It’s no accident that some of the earliest and most popular hacker spaces, like Noisebridge in San Francisco and NYC Resistor in Brooklyn, are in cities where living spaces tend to be small, real estate is expensive and having a home workshop is a pipe dream for all but the very lucky or very wealthy.

“The 1950s version of tinkering was doing it in your garage,” said Dale Dougherty, who as the founder of Make magazine and its popular get-togethers known as Maker Faires is a patron saint to the hacker community. “A lot of people in urban settings don’t have that.”

“Sometimes these hacker spaces are not much bigger than a garage,” he said. “But people can’t organize their home into a workshop.”

via The Rise of the Hacker Space – NYTimes.com.

Venture College @BoiseStateLive Launches in August

Received a thoughtful email from Greg Hahn at Boise State University the other day telling me about their new Venture College. Sounds very exciting and it seems they have buy in and support from the entrepreneurial community in Boise. Can’t wait to hear about their incoming class. From Venture College’s homepage:

Venture College prepares students to launch businesses or nonprofits. This new, non-credit program is open to all full-time students in any major , especially non-business students. Students who successfully complete the program receive the Boise State University Venture College Badge.

Start-up is Fall 2013. While the application deadline has passed, we are accepting applications for the wait list. If you would like to submit an application and be added to our wait list click here to apply. We expect to notify wait list applicants on May 15 as to whether or not there is room in the program.

Interestingly, when you visit the Why Venture College page you read this…

Boise State is taking a leadership role in developing models to teach the skills necessary to succeed in the 21st century.  We are challenging traditional educational strategies and piloting new methods for superior, relevant education. One of the new models is Venture College, a skills-based program that will prepare our students, especially non-business students, to launch enterprises of economic and social value, some while they are still students.

Venture College will provide self-paced, on demand access to knowledge, intensive mentoring and an opportunity to compete for resources needed to start a business.

Venture College is a unique university-wide initiative independent of any academic college and structured as a concurrent, non-credit program for degree seeking students.  This independence from traditional course, credit and accreditation requirements frees Venture College to deliver an innovative and rigorous non-traditional experience for those students, regardless of discipline, who have a passion for starting their own businesses or working in new ventures.

Pretty exciting, glad to have learned about Venture College at Boise State and we’ll see what the Broncos come out with and what the playbook looks like in August 2013 when the first class begins.

via Venture College | Green light your dreams.

#Hackmason | edx/XBlock · GitHub | MOOC

Startup Mason and The Mason Center for Social Entrepreneurship are hosting HackMason 1.0 on April 5th and 6th. We will be offering broad #highered challenges for our attendees (sign up here). One of the challenges will involve developing for edX and its Xblock. Here are some basics at GitHub on XBlock Courseware Components from edX.org (created by Harvard and MIT):

XBlock is a component architecture by edX.org for building courseware.

This is a pre-alpha release of the XBlock API, to gather input from potential users of the API. We like what is here, but are open to suggestions for changes. We will be implementing this shortly in the edX LMS.

This repo contains the core code for implementing XBlocks as well as a simple workbench application for running XBlocks in a small simple environment.

BackgroundEdX courseware is built out of components that are combined hierarchically. These include components like the video player, LON-CAPA problems, as well as compound components like learning sequences. We are developing a second-generation API for these components called XBlocks. Although they’re in a prototype stage, we like the API, and want to collaborate with others to develop them into an industry standard. This is our proposed API and specification for XBlocks.

How does this differ from existing industry standards like LTI and SCORM? On a high level, XBlocks is a Python language-level API, and it provides sensible defaults for things like storing data. XBlocks could be wrapped up in LTI, and one could make an LTI XBlock. The core reason to write an XBlock is that it is deployable. You can give us the code to an XBlock, and we can embed it in our courseware. LTI would require you to give us a virtual machine image which ran it.

We are really excited to work with this new courseware to see what can be developed at our Hack Mason 1.0 event. Please, if you are in the DC Metro, let us know how you would like to be engaged in this event. #edtech #highered #hackedu #mooc

via edx/XBlock · GitHub.

The Weirdness of SXSWedu | Hack Education

I’ve been to Austin 4 times in my life but all trips were before “Keep Austin Weird” was a tag line. I’ve never been to SXSW or the newer SXSWEdu, but am considering attending it next year. Audrey Watters at Hack Education has a very interesting take on vibe of the event and some of the ‘weirdness’ — from a divide between educators and entrepreneurs to sponsor influence. Enjoy.

And it’s rarely the panels or keynotes themselves that are the most rewarding at any conference. Rather it’s the hallway and dinner conversations. These are more likely when and where those difficult and productive conversations happen. I do appreciate that SXSWedu provided more physical spaces and allotted times to encourage this sort of thing; but I can’t help but think that a more unconference-y SXSWedu would be weirder, less scripted, less corporate, and as such mo’ better. Looking at what SXSW Interactive has become, however, I won’t hold my breath.

Like all events that I attend, it’s the people — face-to-face — that make the travel worth it. New friends. Old friends. People I haven’t seen since last year in Austin —that’s key and that could well be the makings of a nascent SXSWedu community. But it’s pretty damn nascent, and I do wonder how much damage that “tension” between educators and entrepreneurs and that obvious corporate agenda has done to it.

So will I go back next year? I don’t know. It depends on if you’re going. It depends on the major sponsor, and hence the keynote speaker. (I have my predictions already about who that’ll be. Do you?) And frankly I think it depends, a year from now, on how “weird” — “punk” weird or “puke!” weird — ed-tech has become.

I am disappointed that the schism between entrepreneurs and educators is so obvious at SXSW and want to believe there are many natural points of shared interest, goals, and even techniques. Love the graphic below that was included in the piece.

SXSWEDU 2013 BINGO

via The Weirdness of SXSWedu.

Kauffman: U.S. Colleges, Universities Must Be Entrepreneurial

Kauffman Foundation has issued a new report, College 2.0: An Entrepreneurial Approach to Reforming Higher Education.” The report is based on a retreat attended by 30 leading higher thinkers. (Maybe one day I’ll attend such an event, hah!). From the Kauffman Website (where you can download the report):

“U.S. higher education today faces a host of problems from rising costs and dismaying dropout rates to low productivity and failure to effectively serve nontraditional students,” said Ben Wildavsky, Kauffman Foundation senior scholar for research and policy and co-organizer of the retreat. “We see an urgent need to not just reform, but rethink, how colleges and universities deliver education to enhance quality, access, and graduates’ success in the workforce.”

“College 2.0″ showcases ambitious ideas for reinventing higher education, focused on making better use of technology, developing a culture of measurement and performance incentives, and creating smarter regulation. Recommended actions fell into six broad categories, including:

Tackle campus-level obstacles to innovation.

Faculty should be treated as enablers of innovation and provided incentives such as research funds to encourage development of innovative teaching models. Likewise, state policymakers should give colleges incentives to innovate by offering higher levels of funding to institutions with better student outcomes (and, presumably, more effective curriculum and teaching).

Rethink accreditation.

Accreditation should place the fewest possible restrictions on both new and existing providers to encourage innovation. It should focus much less on inputs and much more on outcome measures, such as student performance and loan default rates. Online learning should be largely deregulated as long as minimum course-level outcomes are specified.

I’ve downloaded the report and hope to read it this weekend. We’ll see how that turns out. Anyone who gets to it let us know what in there.

via U.S. Colleges and Universities Must Take Entrepreneurial Approach to Overcome Challenges, According to Kauffman Foundation Report.

New Master of Entrepreneurship Program | University of Michigan

The University of Michigan, a leader across many disciplines (and my alma mater) has announced the creation of a Master of Entrepreneurship. Its great to see it is a joint venture between business and engineering. I was fortunate to interview Michigan Alum and supporter Sam Zell a few months back and it was evident in our short talk that Michigan, its leaders, and supporters were fully aware of the interdisciplinary nature of entrepreneurship. This is a great development for Michigan and the practice, research, and teaching of entrepreneurship in higher education. From the Michigan Master of Entrepreneurship website:

The Michigan Master of Entrepreneurship (MsE) gives students the ability to create new technology-focused ventures, either as standalone entities or within established innovative organizations.

This instruction is not available through conventional business or engineering curricula. Most business schools focus on the skill set required in larger, more mature organizations. Most engineering programs do not include market assessment and commercialization skills. The MsE program brings these two cultures together in a novel synthesis that is greater than the sum of its parts.

The first students will begin in August 2012 and the application is available online. Go Blue! (I can write that, this is a blog!)

via Master of Entrepreneurship | University of Michigan.

TED Releases Educational Videos | Wired Campus | Disrupt Edu

TED is the latest to directly jump into the education market — offering something for those looking for online learning, open source edu, uncollege, hack edu, or any other angle on disrupting education. They are calling on top educators to step up and join in with a short lesson to share with the world. TED clearly has some understanding of what video learners want (its why I am videoing my research interviews and other events for remixing later into edu assets). From the Wired Campus column at the Chronicle of Higher Education:

The nonprofit group called TED, known for streaming 18-minute video lectures about big ideas, today opened a new YouTube channel designed for teachers and professors, with videos that are even shorter.The new channel, called TED-Ed, was announced a year ago, but its leaders are only now unveiling the project’s first videos. There are only 11 as of today, but the goal is to add new ones regularly. Within three months from now, a new video could appear each day, said Chris Anderson, TED’s curator, in a conference call with reporters late last week.To produce the new videos, the group is connecting content experts with professional animators to create highly illustrated productions. The average length of these videos is about five minutes, and Mr. Anderson said he envisions a teacher playing one in class at the start of a lesson “to ignite excitement” about the topic.

 

via TED, Known for Idea Talks, Releases Educational Videos – Wired Campus – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

More Profs Support Free Online Courses | Inside Higher Ed

Whats old is new! Over a hundred years ago leaders at schools such as the University of Wisconsin (Van Hise) and the University of Chicago (Harper) were building correspondence courses and extension programs. These efforts were meant to democratize education for a growing, industrializing nation and to pull teachers, business leaders, policy makers, and ‘everyday citizens’ deeper into the higher education infrastructure.

Much is being made about online learning and the actions by high profile professors and universities in extending their coursework and intellectual property beyond their recent boundaries (MITx, etc.) Steve Kolowich of Inside Higher Education investigates elite universities and their moves to MOOCS (massively open online courses) and extending their assets. From IHE;

Stanford is not the only elite university to focus faculty and administrative brainpower on the question of how to create inexpensive versions of its courses available to massive online audiences without sacrificing quality. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently opened MITx, a subsidiary nonprofit aimed at providing top-flight interactive courses online at a “modest” price. The MITx project is actively drawing on the creativity and expertise of the M.I.T. computer science faculty, with involvement from the university’s provost.

“We see a future where world-leading educators are at the center of the education conversation, and their reach is limitless, bounded only by the curiosity of those who seek their knowledge; where universities such as Stanford, Harvard, and Yale serve millions instead of thousands,” the author of the posting. “In this future, ours will be the platform where the online conversation between educators and students will take place, and where students go to for most of their academic needs.”

More than 335,000 people have registered for the five Stanford-provided courses in the Coursera catalog, which comprise courses in natural language processing, game theory, probabilistic graphic models, cryptography and design and analysis of algorithms. The three non-Stanford courses are in model thinking (Michigan), software as a service and computer vision (Berkeley).

There is so much to come in the evolution of higher education that its not hard to be drawn into it, but is all this really new? The history and growth of US higher education provides useful frameworks for exploring these changes and better taking advantage of the opportunities ahead.

via Stanford professors spin off company to support free online courses | Inside Higher Ed.

Ashoka U Exchange 2012 | “Disruptive Innovation in Higher Education” for a Few

A few of my colleagues from GMU, Phil Auerswald (@auerswald) and Greg Werkheiser (@masonsocent) are off to ASU this weekend for the AshokaU Exchange, to discuss “disruption in higher education” (topic so hot it could fry an egg). We generally love Michael Crow and his ideas for ASU.

I am going to dial into a ‘blogger conference‘ call at 4 pm MT and will tweet (@campus_entre) during the call.

One thing I did notice, the event’s homepage states, “A two-day, invitation-only global gathering for…” BLAH, BLAH, BLAH. Sorry, but you lose me when exclusivity is part to your marketing. Maybe that’s just me.

Either way, I know Phil and Greg (sounds like a country music act or a niche food brand) will learn a lot and bring back some great ideas from the weekend as they are two of the sharper folks at GMU — though I did counsel them to take a hike in the Arizona mountains while they are out there.

Ashoka U Exchange 2012 | “Disruptive Innovation in Higher Education”.

MLA Considers Radical Changes to Dissertation | Inside Higher Ed | Disrupt Higher Ed

I am currently in the process of publishing my first two papers and preparing my dissertation — I have been against this academic publication model since entering my PhD program (why I chose a PhD program is another discussion).

Faculty and administrators  always ask why I blog, tweet, participate in online chats, and video record my interviews and ethnographic observations. Its all because I believe other media output and methods of distribution (beyond academic publications and books) are the present and future of knowledge and content. Higher ed is woefully behind in the production and distribution of content (knowledge) when compared to other sectors of society.

Looks like the uber powerful Modern Language Association is coming around to my point of view. From Scott Jaschik of Inside Higher Education:

So much has changed, he said, but dissertation norms haven’t, to the detriment of English and other language programs. “Are we writing books for the 19th century or preparing people to work in the 21st?” he asked.

Leaders of the MLA — in several sessions and discussions here — indicated that they are afraid that too many dissertations are indeed governed by out-of-date conventions, leading to the production of “proto-books” that may do little to promote scholarship and may not even be advancing the careers of graduate students. During the process, the graduate students accumulate debt and frustrations. Russell A. Berman, a professor of comparative literature and German studies at Stanford University, used his presidential address at the MLA to call for departments to find ways to cut “time to degree” for doctorates in half.

And at a standing-room-only session, leaders of a task force studying possible changes in dissertation requirements discussed some of the ideas under consideration. There was a strong sense that the traditional model of producing a several-hundred-page literary analysis dominates English and other language doctoral programs — even though many people feel that the genre is overused and frequently ineffective. People also talked about the value of digital projects, of a series of essays, or public scholarship. Others talked about ways to change the student-committee dynamic in ways that might expedite dissertation completion.

“We are at a defining moment in higher education,” said Kathleen Woodward, director of the Simpson Center for the Humanities at the University of Washington. “We absolutely have to think outside the box that the dissertation is a book or a book-in-progress.”

I will continue to hop through the hoops of the PhD (its too late for me), but will come out armed with multiple output, assets, and skill sets beyond the minimum outdated methods and content required of a 19th century business model. (#bmgen)

via MLA considers radical changes in the dissertation | Inside Higher Ed.