Joyce Alcantara grew up in Rhode Island with her mom, three sisters, two nieces, and a cousin. Her dad, incarcerated in Florida, isn’t really a part of her life. Alcantara had trouble with classes her senior year in high school and almost dropped out; her saving grace was a strong interest in social work and clinical psychology, fostered by an internship at a family services drop-in center. This fall, she started her freshman year at Southern New Hampshire University as part of a new program called College Unbound. “I have made the best with what I have. If not for the struggles, if not for the hardship, I would not be as strong as I am today,” she wrote in her application. But even with all she has going for her, even after beating the odds just to get her high school diploma, a student like Alcantara, the first in her family to go to college, has only an 11 percent chance of graduating.

Dennis Littky thinks that’s not good enough. “An 89 percent dropout rate? That’s absurd. Typically we blame the students, but it may not be all the students’ fault— it may be the colleges’ fault,” he says. “Colleges have to be student-ready rather than students just being college-ready.”

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The Edupunks' Guide: How to Become Part of a Network

So you've gotten an education: now what? Learn how to build a network for yourself.

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The Edupunks' Guide: How to Earn Your Credentials

A guide to the many types of degrees, how to earn them, and how they could advance your career.

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The Edupunks' Guide: How to Do Research Online

There's a knowledge revolution happening online, and there are thousands of places to educate yourself. Anya Kamenetz highlights some of the best.

It’s the best of times and the worst of times to be a learner. College tuition has doubled in the past decade, while the options for learning online and independently keep expanding. Anya Kamenetz's new free ebook The Edupunks’ Guide is all about the many paths that learners are taking in this new world, and we're running excerpts from the book all week. We're also asking GOOD readers to doodle your learning journey and submit the result by Sunday, September 11.

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For-profits and Open Education Make for Uneasy Bedfellows (Or Do They?)

Why Kaplan has the ability and the resources to be innovative in the realm of for-profit higher education. A case for first cleaning up their act.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e50YBu14j3U

Why Kaplan has the ability and the resources to be innovative in the realm of for-profit higher education. A case for first cleaning up their act.

I was in Barcelona earlier this month for the Mozilla Drumbeat Festival on the Future of Learning, Freedom and the Web. (I'll be producing an ebook documenting the festival.) It was overlapping with the OpenEd Conference, the premiere gathering for the global open educational resources community, featuring such edtech luminaries as David Wiley, Brian Lamb, and Scott Leslie, which I attended last year in Vancouver when I was researching DIY U.

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Is it possible to create a standard definition of a credit hour?

What is a meter? Most people would be satisfied with an answer of “about three feet.”
Official definitions, however, turn out to depend on some pretty fanciful, abstract, and far-flung benchmarks: one ten-millionth of the distance between the Equator and the North Pole; or, more strangely, the distance between two lines on a metal bar made of 90 percent platinum, located somewhere in Paris.

The more we look into any standard form of measurement, from the length of a second to the value of a dollar, the more we can see that it’s based on an arbitrary consensus where everything is defined in terms of something else. And yet that doesn’t mean we can do without them. In order to operate in the world we have to trust that we all mean more or less the same thing by reference to these standards.

In the world of higher education, the equivalent of the meter is the credit hour. John Meyer, a venerable sociologist of higher education at Stanford University, was the first to point out to me just how strange a convention this is: “The idea is that your value in the mind of a rational god is a standardized thing in this world.”

Because in fact, there’s nothing standard about the content of a credit hour, in terms of how it’s actually spent. As an undergrad I whiled away pleasant classroom hours discussing Emily Dickinson, while my friend, an engineering major, spent grueling sleepless nights grinding out problem sets, yet we both earned equivalent credits towards our degrees, give or take a few distribution requirements.






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