On the commodification of higher education.

17 09 2013

“Imagine an online document that’s iterative like a LinkedIn profile (and might even be part of the LinkedIn profile), but is administered by some master service that verifies the authenticity of its components. While you’d be the creator and primary keeper of this profile, you wouldn’t actually be able to add certifications yourself. Instead, this master service would do so, verifying information with the certification issuers, at your request, after you successfully completed a given curriculum.

Over time, this dynamic, networked diploma will contain an increasing number of icons or badges symbolizing specific certifications. It could also link to transcripts, test scores, and work examples from these curricula, and even evaluations from instructors, classmates, internship supervisors, and others who have interacted with you in your educational pursuits.

Ultimately the various certificates you earn could be bundled into higher-value certifications. If you earn five certificates in the realm of computer science, you might receive an icon or badge that symbolizes this higher level of experience and expertise. In this way, you could eventually assemble portfolios that reflect a similar breadth of experiences that you get when you pursue a traditional four-year degree.”

- Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn, “Disrupting the Diploma,” September 16, 2013.

“The commodification of education requires the interruption of this fundamental educational process and the disintegration and distillation of the educational process into discrete, reified, and ultimately saleable things or packages of things….In the wake of this transformation, teachers become commodity producers and deliverers, subjects of the familiar regime of commodity production in any other industry, and students become consumers of yet more commodities. The relationship between teacher and student is thus reestablished, in an alienated mode, through the medium of the market, and the buying and selling of commodities takes on the appearance of education. But it is, in reality, only a shadow of education, an assemblage of pieces without the whole.”

- David Noble, Digital Diploma Mills: The Automation of Higher Education (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2001), pp. 3-4.

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2 responses

17 09 2013
Bardiac

This sounds like a nightmare scouting thing… ugh.

19 09 2013
The MOOC hype cycle is older than you think. | More or Less Bunk

[…] you may have noticed, I’ve been going through a David Noble phase lately. You see, last week I was writing an article for a publication that is very close to my heart […]

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