Monday, January 2, 2012

You've got an education, but what you need is a degree

Forbes recently published an article by James Marshall Crotty about MIT's forthcoming MIT.x program, where people can access MIT courses online for free and then for an "affordable" (by whose standards?) but as-yet undetermined fee can get a certificate of completion for the courses, which they're quite careful to note is not an MIT degree, and they're going to great lengths to ensure it doesn't get confused with one.  Crotty says that this program, which from where I sit looks like nothing so much as an effort to monetize MIT's existing Open CourseWare program, is "nothing short of revolutionary [especially if] you aren't a credential freak."  Unfortunately, Crott's overlooking the fact that the pathway to jobs is guarded by HR professionals who are, pretty much by definition, credential freaks. 

In short, I think MIT's effort to expand access to their courses is laudable, but I don't think that MIT.x really does anything to address what I call the Good Will Hunting problem:

Will:  You dropped 150 grand on a f**king education you could have got for a dollar fifty in late charges at the public library.
Clark:  Yeah, but I will have a degree.  And you'll be servin' my kids fries at a drive-thru on our way to a skiing trip.

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