Monday, May 17, 2010

DIY U by Anya Kamenetz

DIY U:  Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education by Anya Kamenetz is a book about how education is changing as technological resources become more prevalent and accessible.  The author begins with a brief history behind secondary education, the purpose of colleges and universities in the United States from their inception to the present day.  She then moves into the economic dilemmas of education, focusing on how students are indebting themselves in order to be well-educated citizens, something that was presumably the intention behind creating the university system to begin with.

I confess that I slogged through the economics chapter and it was well worth it because what follows is the meat of this book.  After presenting a strong argument for where we are and how we got here, Kamenetz pushes forward to offer even stronger arguments for where we should be heading and how we can get there.  Drawing on the experiences of others, she explores the roots of open courseware and other ways in which technology is changing education above and beyond the idea of online courses.  The book serves not only as a why-to or even when-to but most essentially as a how-to.  By emphasizing the resources in a context of practical application, the author invites the reader to dare to dream.  Even if you don't know what you want to know, Kamenetz recommends a variety of tools, resources that are available online naturally, to help focus the knowledge seeker.  Because so many possibilities are already out there, there really is no excuse for not sampling where you might want to be ten years from now right from your own home--at least that is what she contends.

As Kamenetz says in the book, even five years ago many of the resources she recommends were not available.  No doubt, many of the resources she highlights will have come and gone five or ten years from now.  (Hopefully, for most of these websites, such will not be the case.)  That is the way things seem to go on the internet.  Will this book be as relevant then as it is now?  Perhaps not.  Prescience comes at the price of realization.  When one foresees a trend or an opportunity, throws a spotlight on it and asks "Do you see what I see?", when fruition inevitably follows the significance of foresight becomes hindsight and people just tend to move on.  So I would say read this book sooner rather than later.  The invitation on the pages is there but hesitation may make the delivery too late to arrive at the party.

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  1. Your last sentence was perfectly crafted and sounded like prose-etry to me. LOL.

  2. I blush at the compliment. Thank you.