I read a post by David Wiley over at his blog. I ended up making a comment, and then realize there was a blog post in all my ramblings.
In his post, Wiley talks about how acreditors want to come and see what a university is doing. If the university is doing all of the right things, they get accredited, and they can hand out diplomas (one of the few reasons universities have to exist, anymore). Wiley points out that by putting their courses online, it would be very easy for accreditors to see if the university is doing the ‘right things’.
The question I posed was why do we need accreditors in the first place? When universities came to me in high school, they told me if I wanted a good job then I needed to go to college. But are the things I learn at Utah State really preparing me to succeed in the workplace? I had a professor tell me up front that very little of what he taught would prepare me for any kind of job. Who really knows what skills are needed to succeed in the workplace? Why, the workplace itself, that’s who.
When Western Governors University put together their assessments to test competency, they worked very closely with businesses, asking them what skills and knowledge they wanted to see in their employers. WGU based their assessments on that dialogue with businesses.
There are many who think that getting in bed with businesses is a cardinal sin. This notion is extremely unpopular in the world of higher education. But businesses want talented, well-rounded, skillful individuals probably as much if not more than any accreditors.
I wonder how long it will be until businesses look at all this open content out there and just decide to develop their own tests, saying ‘If you can pass this test, it’s good enough for us. No degree needed.’