Thursday, April 10, 2008

Give me some credit...

I've been thinking a lot about 'credit' lately. USU OCW receive 1-2 emails a week from people asking if they can take a test for credit. Many of these people say they've been through course material, and feel they understand it. But the knowledge itself isn't good enough. What they want credit, and it's a completely rational thing to want. Consider the following.

For the first time in my life, I had to hire an attorney. I'm not going into details, and it's nothing big, but lets just say that me and another person had a friendly disagreement. And when I say friendly, I really do mean it. We both read a contract and interpreted it in two different ways.

Now I knew I was right, as I'm sure you readers know I was right. Your faith in me in humbling. :) I showed the gentleman why I was right, but he did not budge. He felt he was right. So I let my fingers do the walking (I didn't use them to communicate, because that is just plain rude), and called an attorney, and asked him to clarify. When I talked to the attorney he laughed and said that my interpretation was in fact correct. Everything I had explained to the man was right.

When the man learned this, he agreed to comply with the contract. I had told him the same thing the attorney had told him, but there was a difference. Think about it. The attorney and I had the same information. We shared the same information with the man. The only difference was that the attorney had a certificate of 'credit' on his wall. He'd been to school, and so he must know about these things.

We do this all the time. We go to doctors, accountants, and lawyers because they have received a degree, or a certificate from a place that says they know how to do X.

OpenCourseWare must solve the problem of credit. There are people using our materials, and there are people who are learning skills. But unless there is some easy way to demonstrate that knowledge, it is the same as if they don't have it. Imagine having to sit down with a doctor, and quizzing him before you determine whether or not he is capable of examining you. It's much easier to look at degree hanging on a wall, and know somebody with more knowledge than you made sure this person is competent.

Universities currently have a monopoly on issuing credit. I'd love to see an alternative. We're seeing the beginnings of this with institutions like Western Governor's University, but even this is just a first step. There is much more that needs to be done.

You either know the stuff, or you don't. And if you do, I'd like to see you get the credit, regardless of where it comes from.


Julie Wright said...

still laughing about rude fingers. And I am whole heartedly on your side. I knew you were right from the beginning.

redhead83402 said...

This is a favorite peeve of mine, actually ~ it is constantly amazing to me that just because someone *bestows* the title of ~XYZ~ upon another individual, then everyone assumes that that individual is now a ~PROFESSIONAL XYZ-er~, when in fact, the ONLY thing that person usally has going for them IS the bestowed title.

For instance, my husband used to be in a heinous HR Generalist position, where he interviewed & hired people for a woodworking factory. On a somewhat regular basis, he had kids right out of college who had been *bestowed* with the title of ~professional woodworker~ ( or even, in some laughable cases Master Woodworker!) coming in to be hired on, claiming that they had 3 or 4 yrs of woodworking experience.

Naturally, my husband would then take them through the mental process of ~how many hours did you actually go to a wood shop class?, how many of those hours did you actually spend building something?, how many actual projects have you ever built?, have you ever read, or contructed plans?, etc, etc, etc.~ This always ended up boiling down to actual practical experience being about 3 weeks instead of 3 yrs, however, because these kids had been *bestowed* with a *title*, they truly believed that they had an upper hand on the market, and indeed would be able to go straight into a work & management situation.

It is a farce that our society continues to permit, because colleges & universities are actually just ~for-profit-businesses~; afterall, who doesn't want to get *bestowed upon*? It's SOO prestigious, AND, you can get better paying jobs because if it. At least that's the image they like to present. The reality is far short of that. Unfortunately, often well-paying jobs truly ARE determined by the *elite bestowage*, rather than the actual experience, or those who have learned information on their own cognizance, rather than through some *Certified Bestowal Program*, which is why you have such massive, unrealistic idiots in management positions.

Uggh ~ now I've just blogged on your blog ~ sorry about that ~ but ~ I DID forewarn you ~ it's a bit of a peeve.

By the way, our whole family just LOVES your two ~headlights~ books! We laughed so hard we nearly cried!! Our family is comparatively half of what yours is, but, even with 5 kids, boy oh boy, do we have a taste of the Big Family Life! :-D