The Future of Collegiate Education

Why every student will be able to go to an Ivy League school….
I’ve said it for years, others are saying, the collegiate school bubble is going to bust. Here’s the main reasons why:

– cost of a collegiate degree is excessive
– value of a collegiate degree has declined
– availability and access to knowledge has expanded by orders of magnitude
– practical value of the knowledge delivered by universities has little to no real-world value
– the collegiate system is one of the most heavily tax payer subisidized industries in the world

I’ve said that in 20 years, probably half the colleges and universities present today will be no more. Here is how and why it that will come to be.  In the future, you will have community colleges and Ivy Leagues and top tier schools, the middle ground of collegiate education will cease to be.

First off, if you had a choice of graduating from the University of York Pennsylvania or Dartmouth, which would you choose? Oh, but you can’t get into Dartmouth nor afford it – right now.

But realize that online learning, which is just in it’s infancy, will begin to mature. Already most top tier universities offer free courses: Stamford, Harvard, MIT, etc.  And while you cannot currently, and never likely, will be able to get a free degree from these establishments. You can already LEARN from them.

How long until Stanford says, why should we only have 15,000 clients. Sure, that’s a whopping $750 million per year. But there are ~20 million college students in the U.S., if Stanford offered online degrees for $5,000/year tuition and enrolled a 150,000 students.  They would double their $750 million revenue. But they would do so at an extremely low overhead. No building to build, far less professors needed per student, etc. The amount of that revenue which would be profit would be exceedingly high.

90% of collegiate learning can be done via online courses. Courses could even be taught live with thousands in digital attendance. But what about interaction? Simple, the delivery app would allow students to ask questions. Moderators would see these questions, the professors would not. The moderators would then be able to post popular questions to the professor. So if dozens of students ask a question, the moderators would gain a sense of its need for clarity. Then a single moderator would raise the question to the professor. “Professor, a number of students have asked about what happens when….blah blah blah.” And the professor responds live to the classrooms needs.

The quality of learning would in fact exceed most classroom environments. Because the schools would select the best professors.  We all had them in college, those professors who made it all click. Those professors who conveyed the material with understanding that other instructors failed to posess.  Well guess what, all those sub-par tenured professors will go bye-bye. Time to find new jobs.  Top tier professors will become akin to sports stars.  Stamford, Harvard, MIT, etc. will hire the absolute best teachers in fields, not just in knowledge but in teaching ability. These professors may earn over $500K/year, maybe even a million a year.  But they’ll be worth it…

The gap will be in those fields that require labs – chemistry, biology, physics, etc.  Here is why community colleges will stick around. You see, you will do your labs at your local community and regional state colleges. You might even do a lot of your basic courses there such as reading, math, etc.

Furthermore, I expect that a National Online University will be established as well. This will offer tuition free degrees. The degrees will be limited to handful of basic degree options:  bio/chem/pre-med, math/engineering, computer science, english/education, history/education, business, nursing, psychology, political science, economics/accounting, etc.

But what about college campuses? Will those go away? Yes, and no. For the thousands of colleges and universities that will disappear entirely, yes. But for the top tier, Ivy Leagues, MIT, etc.  No…these will continue but in a far different way.  Only the privileged few will get invited to the campus. Tuition for these will likely be free. The actual campuses will be far more focused on research.  Professors will handpick high school graduate applicants and select individuals who excel in the online program their first year or two may also be invited to participate on campus.

Where the Star Wars Saga could go..

There is an interesting story that often goes unnoticed about theprequels.

They explain and highlight an ongoing failure.Anakin is trained by Obi-Wan, who was trained by Qui Gon Jin, who wasin turn trained by Count Dooku who was trained by Yoda.  (And who trained Yoda? Oooh…that could be fun. Hadn’t even thought of that.Who or what trained Yoda nearly a millenium earlier?)

But one of the tenants of the Jedi was that they put away things likelove, relationships, etc. They went to a very judicial path. What was the result? Anakin was refused the option to rescue his mother from slavery.(Let’s not even get into how or why the Queen of Naboo would not havesent an emmissary to purchase her freedom. Cause that would of been a no brainer. This is the mother of the hero who saved your wholeplanet.) Later when Padme falls out of the aircraft in their pursuit of Count Duku, Anakin is once again reprimanded to stay focused on themission.

You see, to the Jedi, it is not just anger and fear that arethe dangers. It is the fact that love, relationship, attachment mightlead to those paths. (Think of the old joke about why baptists areafraid of sex, it might lead to dancing.)

Yet, when Yoda had the opportunity to stop Count Dookuhe did not. Heallowed Count Dooku to escape in order to save the lives of youngAnakin and Obi Wan.

Wait…that seems at odds with the guidance thathas been tossed around.  Was even Yoda starting to be at odds with thetenants of the Jedi?  Perhaps even realizing that there was something wrong.  But clearly, come the Empire Strikes Back, Yoda is still strongly attached. When Young Skywalker sees his vision of his friendsin trouble, he wants to help. Yoda advises against it. But Skywalker goes and helps anyways. In fact he does it again to rescue his father from the Darkside. 

And this…is the subtle fact that distinguishes Anakin from Luke.Anakin, endeavored to obey a misguided tenant. He didn’t help those heloved when they needed him. The result was a path that led to anger,hate and the darkside.The Sith on the other hand are all about embracing their intensities.Anger, hate, fear, passion…there is the classical opposition ofchaos versus order, the ying and yang.  But as evil as the the Sith are, the Jedi’s failing stands out strongly.

Look at Qui Gon Jin, whom diverged from the Jedi’s tenants. Who wouldhave been on the council if he wasn’t doing his own thing. Had Qui Gontaken Anakin as his padawan, would he have refused him to return andretrieve his mother?

What hate could drive Anakin to kill younglings, to kill on a level ashe did in Episode III?  It wasn’t hate for an individual. I think it was hate for the Jedi Order and it’s tenants. The realization that even the younglings were but tools for this twisted cult in which itwas more important to be a part of the mold than to do right, to helpthose you cared about. An order which refused the right to love.

I postulate, that the Jedi Order was NOT a good thing. How could ANYTHING sans love be considered good?

Imagine now from that perspective, a realization of just how flawedthe Jedi were. And you understand that a really cool plot line couldbe developed. One in which Luke Skywalker made the realization that the Jedi Order must allow feelings of love, even of anger and hate. Beangry but do not sin.  Being angry is not in and of itself the crime,it is what actions we take while angry.  And a Jedi Order that recognized it’s members humanity (or personhoodity since we’re dealingwith many non-humans), would be far greater than the Jedi Order of old.

We can trace the training of Anakin all the way back to Yoda.  And I postulate this is the flaw that was taught. This is why Count Dooku, Qui Gon Jin, Anakin all fall away to some level or another.

This should be part of the tale of the new films.  They should delve into the flaws of the Jedi order. 

Perhaps with the rumor of some ancient evil force.  We could see some of this explored.  First off I would love this force to in fact be the Jedi who apprenticed Yoda. And what if said evil was neutral to the nth degree. Destructive neutral.  You need positives and negatives in motion in order to make electrical energy.  What if this evil merely sought perfect neutrality. A universe in which the essences of good and evil are removed.  A universe in stasis.

What if the Jedi and the Sith had to come together (and accept each other to some degree) to combat this evil.

Where the Star Wars Saga could go..

There is an interesting story that often goes unnoticed about theprequels.

They explain and highlight an ongoing failure.Anakin is trained by Obi-Wan, who was trained by Qui Gon Jin, who wasin turn trained by Count Dooku who was trained by Yoda.  (And who trained Yoda? Oooh…that could be fun. Hadn’t even thought of that.Who or what trained Yoda nearly a millenium earlier?)

But one of the tenants of the Jedi was that they put away things likelove, relationships, etc. They went to a very judicial path. What was the result? Anakin was refused the option to rescue his mother from slavery.(Let’s not even get into how or why the Queen of Naboo would not havesent an emmissary to purchase her freedom. Cause that would of been a no brainer. This is the mother of the hero who saved your wholeplanet.) Later when Padme falls out of the aircraft in their pursuit of Count Duku, Anakin is once again reprimanded to stay focused on themission.

You see, to the Jedi, it is not just anger and fear that arethe dangers. It is the fact that love, relationship, attachment mightlead to those paths. (Think of the old joke about why baptists areafraid of sex, it might lead to dancing.)

Yet, when Yoda had the opportunity to stop Count Dookuhe did not. Heallowed Count Dooku to escape in order to save the lives of youngAnakin and Obi Wan.

Wait…that seems at odds with the guidance thathas been tossed around.  Was even Yoda starting to be at odds with thetenants of the Jedi?  Perhaps even realizing that there was something wrong.  But clearly, come the Empire Strikes Back, Yoda is still strongly attached. When Young Skywalker sees his vision of his friendsin trouble, he wants to help. Yoda advises against it. But Skywalker goes and helps anyways. In fact he does it again to rescue his father from the Darkside. 

And this…is the subtle fact that distinguishes Anakin from Luke.Anakin, endeavored to obey a misguided tenant. He didn’t help those heloved when they needed him. The result was a path that led to anger,hate and the darkside.The Sith on the other hand are all about embracing their intensities.Anger, hate, fear, passion…there is the classical opposition ofchaos versus order, the ying and yang.  But as evil as the the Sith are, the Jedi’s failing stands out strongly.

Look at Qui Gon Jin, whom diverged from the Jedi’s tenants. Who wouldhave been on the council if he wasn’t doing his own thing. Had Qui Gontaken Anakin as his padawan, would he have refused him to return andretrieve his mother?

What hate could drive Anakin to kill younglings, to kill on a level ashe did in Episode III?  It wasn’t hate for an individual. I think it was hate for the Jedi Order and it’s tenants. The realization that even the younglings were but tools for this twisted cult in which itwas more important to be a part of the mold than to do right, to helpthose you cared about. An order which refused the right to love.

I postulate, that the Jedi Order was NOT a good thing. How could ANYTHING sans love be considered good?

Imagine now from that perspective, a realization of just how flawedthe Jedi were. And you understand that a really cool plot line couldbe developed. One in which Luke Skywalker made the realization that the Jedi Order must allow feelings of love, even of anger and hate. Beangry but do not sin.  Being angry is not in and of itself the crime,it is what actions we take while angry.  And a Jedi Order that recognized it’s members humanity (or personhoodity since we’re dealingwith many non-humans), would be far greater than the Jedi Order of old.

We can trace the training of Anakin all the way back to Yoda.  And I postulate this is the flaw that was taught. This is why Count Dooku, Qui Gon Jin, Anakin all fall away to some level or another.

This should be part of the tale of the new films.  They should delve into the flaws of the Jedi order. 

Perhaps with the rumor of some ancient evil force.  We could see some of this explored.  First off I would love this force to in fact be the Jedi who apprenticed Yoda. And what if said evil was neutral to the nth degree. Destructive neutral.  You need positives and negatives in motion in order to make electrical energy.  What if this evil merely sought perfect neutrality. A universe in which the essences of good and evil are removed.  A universe in stasis.

It’s a Wonderful Life Sequel

It’s kind of funny, they announced a new sequel in which the great grandson is shown how much better the world would be if he wasn’t born. http://movies.yahoo.com/news/wonderful-life-sequel-coming-2015-213200658.html

Well, darn, it sounds like a movie idea I’ve been pitching…LOLZ (see my sketch up below.)

***

“It’s a Wonderful Death”

Plot Synopsis: A sort of re-visit on James Stewart’s “It’s a Wonderful  Life” with a twist.

In the year 1998 the main character, went bust in the dotcom and  nearly commits suicide – stopped by a chance intervention. (Chance  intervention being him saving someone else’s life, such as a Karl Rove  type figure.) He’s been struggling to make ends meet ever since.  And  questions himself as to whether he and his family would have been  better off if he had just committed suicide, at least his family would  have had the life insurance payment.

He is given a chance to see how the world would have been different  without him.  What’s worse, is that the new world he sees appears to  be much better without him. Al Gore won the election in 2000. The  World Trade Centers are still standing, and 2008 is the biggest stock  market boom on record. There is peace in the Middle East.  In fact,  everything seems like it’d be much better off if he wasn’t in the  world.

Until he encounters his adult children. Instead of the happy marriage  his daughter is now in an abusive relationship. His son, strung out on  drugs.

The father is faced with the choice of making a better world. Or being  there as a positive influence in his children’s lives. Essetially, the  crux of the plot is on the importance of Father’s being involved in  the lives of their children.

Additional thoughts: Move focus from typical Christmas time period of  such films (It’s a Wonderful Life, Family Man) and go with a Father’s  Day timeline.   I believe the film could be done on a moderate budget, even an  independent film budget as it does not require many special effects.  (Altering CNN headline to show Al Gore winning, inserting the World  Trade Centers in the background of NYC again.)   I feel that we need more films that encourage fathers to be involved  in the lives of their kids.

Girl Scout Cookies

What’s going on?

First off, I understand inflation. We’re now at $4 a box. The sad thing is from my understanding, the individual troop only sees about 50 cents a box.  The council about a $1-$1.50. 

So I ordered my three favorite:
- Tagalongs, now just simply called Peanut Butter Patties
- Trefoils, now just called shortbread
- Thin Mints, which I think have always been called that. But which my kids fondly coined the term “toothpaste” cookies.

So far, I’ve been a bit disappointed this year.  First, the Thin Mints do not taste as good as they used to. They’re drier, not as much chocolate (you can actually see little holes in the surface) and something is not quite as good about the taste. Like, maybe they reduced the fat but lost some flavor.

Peanut butter patties are still decent. But wow are they way way way smaller. But they now have 15 cookies, where as they might have had 12 last time. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If that is the case, but if they shrank them and they always had 15 in a box. Then they’ve really reduced the cookie factor by like 25%.

Trefoils, these are WAYYYYYYY thinner than ever before. I am not sure they’ve reduced the quantity of cookie in any way. But a lot more were broken then normal.  Thankfully, they haven’t changed the core recipe here. They are still extremely simple and extremely addictive cookies.

***

That said… I still think Girl Scouts missed the boat the other year when Walmart began selling clones of Girl Scout cookies. They should of basically licensed 3-4 cookies to Walmart.  Allowed Walmart to use the same recipes. In exchange for 15% of the proceeds which would go to whatever Girl Scout council oversaw the given region.

Then let ALL of the profits from those sold by Girl Scouts to stay in their troop. This would of done wonders.

Article on Eyestrain and Computer Monitors

The article IMHO misses the boat. It covers the traditional basics, staring too long, at an object too close, etc, etc.

But it completely misses the real issue…”illumination”.

You see, I can stare at my eInk Kindle Reader for hours, keeping it close to my nose, with very little blinking. And yet, doing so provides next none of the strain that just a few hours of staring at my computer screen at work does. Why?

Because my Kindle, is not illuminated. It is NOT emitting light and radiation.  Where as a computer screen is sending an immense amount of light into our eyes.  Try staring at a lightbulb. You get this “glow” from the brightness.  A computer monitor is doing the exact same thing, just on a much much lower level.

And we can thank some idiot way back half a century ago who decided that computer screens should be “white” because paper is white. We would be far far better off if we inverted the screen. When with a black or gray background as the base. Not only would our eyes be healthier. But we could save millions in energy reduction. Furthermore, our mobile batteries would see a significant increase in their battery life.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/12/health/upwave-computer-eyes/index.html?hpt=hp_c3

Ender’s Game Review

So overall, here are my thoughts. I enjoyed Ender’s Game more than I expected.  I was really not having high hopes. I just recently read both Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow the past year. And had concern that the film would be a bubble gumball take like Starship Troopers.

First the movie deviates from the book in a number of places. Some of which I feel were done wisely, and others not so wisely.

Characters from various interactions and platoons are lumped together in one platoon.  And I feel this worked. It simplified things but did not take away from the story in abbreviated form.

I was glad the included Ender’s siblings. But feel the sadistic nature of his brother could of been emphasized further. But the aspect of the books political element with the siblings was completely cut. And I think that was a wise move as well. It is extraneous to the core plot.

A few issues I have are similar to those highlighted in some reviews. That the ostracization of Ender is extremely brief and I think more needed to be done to focus on that. We leap to quickly into the “We embrace and are loyal to Ender” mode of the story, rather than the turbulence that had to be endured before hand.

Very Minor spoiler – there is a scene where Ender is ordered to do a set of push ups followed by a second set. I feel they blew it with this scene. If you’ve been to a military academy, you know that second set would have included ALL your fellow cadets being forced to join you. This would of provided a great opportunity to play up the outcast nature. And I think they missed it.

The other issue that is completely lost is the fact that Ender was much younger in the book. And thus smaller than everyone, except for Bean.  But in casting, Ender is taller than many of his rivals.  Including Bonzo Madrid, whom while muscular was extremely short.  It took away the fear that was there in the original book scenario.

With that gripe aside, I loved the casting.  First off, amen and thank you for having some ethnicity. Alai actually has dark skin. Oh, and seeing this on IMAX you get to see all the flaws of the actors. Asa Butterfield’s moles. Pimples covered in makeup on other actors.  But it makes it a bit more human. And I like that.

In fact that was one of the big plusses of this movie. That the characters cast have imperfections of beauty and look real. (This is one of my gripes with Marvel Agents of SHIELD, other than Colson the other characters are to physically perfect and ultimately forgettable.) Petra, had a unique face and appearance, that slightly off from normal model that we see in Hunger Games’ Katniss Everdeen.  I like that Hollywood is actually leaving moles on characters.  I also liked the casting of Bean. But really wanted them to just highlight him a bit more. Show him being willing to stand up and question Ender. And being similar in that thoughtful streak.  All the more so having recently just read Ender’s Shadow. But I felt he looked fairly close to how I pictured him in my mind.

I do have a few more gripes, with certain aspects threw elements off for me – especially at command school. But I’ll reserve those due to plot details.

That said, I fairly liked how the adjusted the ending a bit. And how all that was done. While not true to the book. I think it was true to the spirit of the book.

So I give Ender’s Game a B-, it was better than I feared. But didn’t hit where it could of.  Ironically, I think this would make a way better mini-series on HBO or Netflix where that added depth to develop the characters and stories could be made.

 


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