[iDC] duplication theory of educational value

Alex Halavais alex at halavais.net
Fri Sep 16 14:19:43 UTC 2011

Just a very quick reply. I agree that the things you list are much
more available (if not quite replaceable) outside of the university.
Our million dollar HD studio goes unused because--it no longer makes
any sense. But I don't think students have been going to universities
for any of those three things for some time. They go for:

1. Accreditation. You can't get a retail job without a BA. It's a
joke, but one that isn't very funny. Accredited universities have a
stranglehold on accredited degrees (for the moment). Opting out of the
degree path carries substantial risk.

2. Community. It's not just the experts that you have access to--and
to be fair, I had all of two or three substantive discussions with
experts during my undergraduate career--it's the peers. It's easy to
say that social media replaces this, and there are ways to structure
online interactions so that they can provide a different kind of
community (not better or worse, but different), but for now, there is
much to be said for the kind of community built by sharing physical
space. That means more than drinking coffee and talking about
Nietzsche, it also means drinking beer and talking about life.

Both of these can be replaced, but I don't think there are strong,
easily accessed alternatives to either at the moment.


On Fri, Sep 16, 2011 at 8:38 AM, Adrian Miles <adrian.miles at rmit.edu.au> wrote:
> hi George, et al
> On 16 September 2011 03:25, George Siemens <gsiemens at elearnspace.org> wrote:
>> I'd be interested to hear comments from list members on where we find the
>> value point for education today...i.e. why go to university instead of a diy
>> approach?
>> My thoughts are
>> here: http://www.elearnspace.org/blog/2011/09/15/duplication-theory-of-educational-value/
> I am currently wondering similar questions, though in the specific context
> of media education and practice. I'm also writing a presentation that is
> going to be a bit of a riff on this idea for a conference in October here in
> Australia. But my answer is pretty simple. I'll stick to media as it makes
> my argument easier, but I think it translates pretty well (YMMV).
> 1. you once went to uni to get access to equipment that were otherwise
> scarce:
> i. video cameras/edit suites (very expensive, big, etc)
> ii. expertise in how to use such things
> 2. you once went to uni to get access to resources that were otherwise
> scarce:
> i. reference books
> ii. journals
> iii. a decent library that had books in your area of interest
> 3. you once went to uni to get access to expertise that was otherwise
> scarce:
> i. experts (academics)
> ii. content via these academics (lectures, classes)
> In this model (these are the reasons I had for going to university, and I
> was mature age, and largely self taught around cinema studies) quantity
> matters. How big is the library, how significant the academics, how good the
> cameras. You learnt, you didn't, but the 'experience' of going to uni was as
> much access to this stuff as it was about anything else. In other words
> access was what generated the quality of the experience, the institution in
> many ways didn't actually have to do a lot, except be.
> This model is now redundant for all the reasons that I think are obvious to
> us. So, if I don't need a university for access to equipment (I have a video
> camera in my pocket, my laptop is an edit suite, and I can distribute to the
> planet via the web), or for high quality commentary and knowledge (free
> journals, library access, MIT courseware, blogs, specialist online forums),
> and I can now email these very academics, practitioners or just listen to
> podcasts of very high quality content, why would I go to uni?
> Stephen Downes answered this very well recently, along the lines (I am
> paraphrasing) of "learning how to become". The scarcity model is gone, but
> it is still about quality and the quality is in enabling for students a
> shift in their understanding. Of themselves as thinker practitioners (or
> practitioner thinkers), of their discipline, of their relation to all this
> stuff out there, of their role in a knowledge economy where knowing how
> counts for more than knowing what.
> I've no idea how much sense that made, as I'm still distilling this. But
> increasingly I understand that the difference I have made that made a
> difference was never been about content, about teaching *more*, but in
> providing, mentoring, modelling a variety of things that are more abstract,
> and teaching myself how to help students to find and learn these things
> themselves. What Schön would characterise as some sort of reflective
> practice, the sort of 'back talk' that you do and need to learn to find and
> listen to to be a good theorist, maker, learner. So the qualitative change
> is not in them coming to learn more, that's a collateral outcome that's
> going to happen anyway. It is a qualitative change in their own
> understanding about something that will matter. Or, as I mention above,
> learning how to become.
> I could go on, but that's enough. However, I will finish by saying that the
> contemporary university is in general not like this, and to do this you more
> or less find an eddy for yourself in the university and do it because the
> university as an institution is stuck in about 1980 (on a good day) and as
> far as I can see still thinks my points 1 to 3 above are what matter.
> an appropriate closing
> Adrian Miles
> about.me/vogmae
> _______________________________________________
> iDC -- mailing list of the Institute for Distributed Creativity
> (distributedcreativity.org)
> iDC at mailman.thing.net
> https://mailman.thing.net/mailman/listinfo/idc
> List Archive:
> http://mailman.thing.net/pipermail/idc/
> iDC Photo Stream:
> http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/idcnetwork/
> RSS feed:
> http://rss.gmane.org/gmane.culture.media.idc
> iDC Chat on Facebook:
> http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2457237647
> Share relevant URLs on Del.icio.us by adding the tag iDCref

// This email is
// [x] assumed public and may be blogged / forwarded.
// [ ] assumed to be private, please ask before redistributing.
// Alexander C. Halavais, ciberflâneur
// http://alex.halavais.net

More information about the iDC mailing list