A free education is worth what you paid for it
The digital revolution is currently forcing every industry to adapt or die, and education is no exception. Rutgers professor Richard E. Miller puts forward a pretty convincing argument in his essay ‘The Coming Apocalypse’ that universities must shift from a geocentric focus on the expertise of the professor to a heliocentric focus on “the collaborative networks of mentors and learners who work with information freely available on the Web” (published in Volume 10, Issue 1 of Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition and Culture 2009: 147). Miller is currently involved to two collaborative projects that aim to find a new way of expressing thought- Text2Cloud, and the Plangere Culture Lab. You can view “visual essays” produced by Rutgers students in the Plangere Culture Lab here and here, however these channels appear currently unused.
Being a writer first and foremost (and often feeling out of my depth struggling to edit film), I’m drawn more to the concept behind Text2Cloud. You can read more about it here, but basically the aim of the site is to write with the immediacy of a blog and the professionalism of a journal article, using the internet as a near-infinite source of content. It’s a noble aim, and reminds me somewhat of one of my favourite sites- Thought Catalog (TC). TC similarly exists to display non-fiction, but is updated more frequently and features a much wider variety of contributors. “In a small way, you’re supporting the future of journalism” it boasts.
Which of course brings us to the key issue facing the future of journalism, and indeed education: who’s paying? Because when people expect to get all the information they require for free, yet somehow also expect to one day make a career out of producing this kind of information, there’s the obvious assumption that someone, somewhere is getting ripped off. And I believe it is us. The more that advertising and the corporate bottom dollar control the information we access, the less we can trust the objectivity and accuracy of that information.
So what’s the solution then? Don’t ask me, I’m not getting paid to write this.