Douglas Crets


Giving Credibility to the Shadow Education System

Prison More Expensive Than Attending Princeton for One Year

I stole this wonderful infographic from The Atlantic today, but you should read the whole article there, which says that it costs more per year to incarcerate a single African-American inmate in a New Jersey prison than it does for a single African-American student to attend Princeton during the same time frame.

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Big Think Launches Online University

Ideas web site Big Think today launched an attempt at an online university. The e-learning platform is shot at trying to aggregate the world’s best thinkers and innovators on one platform to make learning in subject areas easy for anyone. Here’s a segment of their announcement, which they posted on their site and in an newsletter sent out this afternoon:

For the first time in more than three centuries, Harvard and Yale will concurrently offer the same course — and its primary “text” won’t be a book, but rather a video lecture series comprising the world’s greatest thinkers and leading scholars.

Students are already responding. At Yale, 145 students have already registered for Great Big Ideas, for a class limited in size to 18 – making it the third most popular course on campus even before its first day of class. (Intro Economics and Intro Psychology are #1 and #2).

Great Big Ideas delivers an undergraduate liberal arts education in 12 weeks. It’s a survey of twelve major fields delivered by their most important thinkers and practitioners, including former Big Think guests Leon BotsteinSteven PinkerMichio KakuLarry SummersDoug MeltonPaul Bloom and many others.

Each lecture explores the key questions in the field, lays out the methods for answering those inquiries and explains why the field matters.  It is an effective introduction to thinking differently, and a primer in the diverse modes of problem solving essential for success in the 21st century. And, while the company is partnering with major universities, they are also challenging the basis of their traditional models of education.

Pretty interesting that Harvard and Yale share the same course. This is disruptive thinking, and it borrows the brand and marketing halo of two major ivy league universities, giving Big Think a lot of credibility.

Which brings the question to the forefront: in an online world, is credibility or a degree more important? If I take most of my courses online from reputable sources, but don’t get a degree, am I just as viable a candidate for a job as someone who went to those schools but comes away from those programs with a much better human network than I do?

The future of scaling up this enterprise will be in enabling a special kind of networking ability for the “students” who use the platform. somewhere, someone is dreaming up a learning platform that is as much about great content as it is about networking. When you figure out the networking component, then you won’t need a Harvard or a Yale anymore. That’s the only reason they are number one and number two in anyone’s book.

Don’t think so?

Look what Larry Summers says about academics. Too focused on theory and not enough on what happens in the real world:

Filed under: Digital Learning, Influence, , , , ,

Innovation Money Went to Allegiances, not to Innovation in Education

This article in GOOD about the poorly managed good intentions behind the i3 grants is spot on: money went to allegiances, and to the estabilshment that was already set up to “guide” education innovation. The money did not go to real and ingenious startups, among them the smaller entities headed up by hard-working and risk-taking entrepreneurs.

Here’s a quotation from the article, but go and read it for yourself. It is written by Philissa Cramer of Gotham Schools, and quotes a former public relations staffer from NewSchools Venture Fund, Julie Landry Petersen.

But a funny thing happened on the way to innovation. When the first multimillion-dollar grants were awarded last year, they went to some of the country’s most established education nonprofits—to allow them to keep doing pretty much what they had been doing. For example, the two largest prizes, $50 million each, went to the KIPP Foundation (one of the most established charter school networks) and Teach for America to expand their famously well-oiled human capital machines. Smaller “development” grants of $3 million to $5 million each helped school districts bulk up their arts programming or data analysis.

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Pipeline Fellowship Apps for Women Angel Investors Start Inaugural Boston Effort

written by A. Lauren Abele

The Pipeline Fellowship announces a call for applications in New York, NY and—for the first time—Boston, MA.

The Pipeline Fellowship seeks to increase the number of women angel investors (only 13% of U.S. angels are women[1]) through its six-month angel investing bootcamp, which is specifically designed for women who are first-time angel investors. While Fellows come from a variety of backgrounds (law, finance, healthcare, the arts, small business, and more), they all share a common interest in learning to invest for good.

The program trains women philanthropists to become angel investors through education (modules on due diligence, term sheets, valuations, board governance, etc.), mentoring (matching each participant with an experienced angel investor to serve as a role model), and practice (participants commit to invest in a woman-led for-profit social venture at the end of the training).

The cohorts are intentionally small (10 women) and designed to encourage teamwork, co-mentoring, peer-to-peer learning, as well as group decision-making in the investing process. Each participant commits to invest US$5K for a collective US$50K investment in exchange for an equity stake in the woman-led social enterprise of the group’s choosing. The inaugural Pipeline Fellowship class (NYC 2011) will be announcing their investment in late October. Stay tuned!

Applications for the 2011-2012 Boston- and 2012 NYC-based Pipeline Fellowship programs are now being accepted on a rolling basis until Monday, August 29, 2011. To apply, go to thePipeline Fellowship applications page.

The Pipeline Fellowship trains women philanthropists to become angel investors through education, mentoring, and practice. In addition to an all-day conference, the program’s educational components include a series of workshops on topics such as portfolio strategies, due diligence, and valuation. Each Fellow is also paired with an experienced angel investor who serves as a role model and a sounding board, sharing feedback and advice. Lastly, the Fellows put their education to work by selecting and investing in a woman-led, for-profit social venture.

A. Lauren Abele is Pipeline Fellowship’s COO. The Pipeline Fellowship aims to diversify the investor pool and connect women social entrepreneurs with investors who get them. Lauren holds a BA in English Literature and Environmental Studies from Washington University in St. Louis and an MPA in Economic Development and Comparative and International Affairs from Indiana University’s School for Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA). Follow her on Twitter at @laurenabele.

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