Many great ideas are coming to fruition in terms of crediting informal learning experiences. Knowledge is becoming more open, alternative forms of credit are now a reality for the uncollege-bound, and colleges are making it easier for people to associate themselves with their brand. What will the new paradigm of education look like in the the next 5, 10, or even 20 years when people are earning credit through multiple sources and employers and institutions will have to count this credit?
****College Credit, Formal Education: Higher Ed will never go away. Some people do want to buy into the college lifestyle and some employers still value expertise gained from the full college experience. Although I don’t see degrees being replaced, I do see them being composed of not only institutional credit, but a mosaic of credit from various experiences, professional entities, and other schools. Some individuals will be more likely to succeed with a path clearly laid out for them and a guaranteed, matriculated track that leads to a proven, quality product.
***College Credit, Informal Learning: But other people need more options. They need education that fits into their irregular and busy life. They may need more time to absorb the content because of learning disabilities or preferences or they may not have enough time to complete a full degree. “Sub-schools” (MIT=MITx, Harvard=Harvardx)are forming all over the country, allowing individuals to access their content from anytime or anywhere and receive “sub-school” credit for a small fee.
**Alternative Credit, Informal Learning: Companies like HP and Microsoft offer their own forms of professional development, but that informal learning experience is moving into the education arena. Traditionally, certificates have served a population that needs to fit education into their life. Certificates are not being replaced, but supplemented by new, alternative forms of credit that provide more information to the employer or institution accepting the credit. Employers and institutions have a lot of work to do in order come up with practices that recognize these new forms of credit.
*Non-Credit, Informal Learning: Finally, there are informal learning events going on all over the world in different formats, such as mini-conferences and workshops. These events are focused on learning specific skills and have specific take-aways for the participants. Most often, they are free for attendees and put on by volunteers with donated funds. Generally, they are a non-credited community event.
Everyone’s perspective on this issue will be different depending on where your seat is at this table. Do you see the future of formal education shaping differently from your point of view? What are your thoughts on the future of alternative credit?
UPDATE: Before I drafted up this post, I bounced this graphic in the Twittersphere to some of my @openbadges tweeps. Check out this other perspective by Carla Casilli about traditional vs. non-traditional, accredited vs. non-accredited: https://carlacasilli.wordpress.com/2012/07/31/mozilla-open-badges-the-ecosystem-begins-to-take-shape/