Education is Our Sputnik Moment

Today’s post is by guest blogger David Blake. David is the Founder and CEO of Degreed, a new service that scores and validates your lifelong education from traditional and non-traditional learning channels.

Chegg CEO Dan Rosensweig’s recently made the claim that “we need to disrupt education, now“, and called for the “[sharing of] ideas about innovative technologies, schools and strategies so – together – we can collaborate and help our students and our country succeed.”

Learning has never been more ubiquitous and inexpensive, yet the cost of formal education and student debt burdens continue to soar. Sir Ken Robinson quoted Abraham Lincoln in saying, “’As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.’ Many of our ideas have been formed not to meet the circumstances of this century, but to cope with the circumstances of previous centuries. But our minds are still hypnotized by them, and we have to disenthrall ourselves from them.”

Recently, technology has fundamentally transformed the way that we learn, but the symbol of learning, the degree, has remained unchanged.

But now, the time for a different kind of degree has come. Degreed, recently launched a crowd-funding campaign to create the world’s first Digital Lifelong Diploma that enables students to reflect everything they’ve learned, from any source, throughout their life, both formal (e.g. Harvard) and informal (e.g. Udacity, Khan Academy, iTunesU, conferences, badges, certificates, assessments, etc.).

Imagine if education never ended. Imagine if the diploma could measure everything you have ever learned. Imagine if we could ‘jailbreak’ the college degree. The current model of higher education, centered on the 4-year degree, is incredibly inefficient, costly and entirely unsuited to meet the needs of lifelong learners or the quick and evolving pace of a technological, knowledge-driven economy.

The Degreed campaign to build the Digital Lifelong Diploma was in part a response to President Obama’s call that education “is our generation’s Sputnik Moment” and we have created a “songified” remix of JFK’s famous Rice University “Go to the Moon” speech, now celebrating its 50-year anniversary since its 1962 delivery.

The financial crisis facing higher education monetarily exceeds the cost of successfully landing a man on the moon. The outstanding student load debt now tops $1 trillion dollars, whereas the Apollo Space Program cost ~$25 billion to put a man on the moon. In that 1962 speech, JFK said, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”

Education is our generation’s Sputnik Moment. Let’s win the moment.

written by
Guest Blogger
November 15, 2012

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