Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sylvia atricapilla: Response to a Skeptic's Questions about World University and School

A Skeptic's Questions about World University and School vis-a-vis other open education projects.

me: Did M find theater-related work for the summer, by any chance? What is she up to?

B: she's away for a few days

me: ok

B: yes. summer theatre in NY

me: great

More theater for her in the fall?

Where are S's interests leading her at college?

B: I doubt it. she's looking for work but not necessarily theatre
everything from bio to psych to sociology

me: great ... keep in mind World Univ & Sch over time ... I hope opportunities will emerge here online for interns

B: hmmm

me: Someone knowledgeable in theater would be invaluable as students start to engage the university ... no monies to speak of yet

me: I think I told you World University and School incorporated in April, didn't I?

B: oh. don't remember

are you still in SF area?

me: yes, on April 30, 2010 ... as a nonprofit ...

Wikipedia, the online world encyclopedia has a $10 million dollar budget with 35 people on staff after 10 years, so I'm optimistic about WUaS the online world university

yes, I enjoy the SF Bay Area - the weather is great and there's a lot of variety.
And Wikipedia is in 272 languages ... all good precedents.

B: will you be on the east coast for a while this summer?

me: We'd like to create a lot of jobs for interns, but need monies first to do this

B: I'm afraid I'm a skeptic as you know

me: it will help interns and students along the way - a skeptic myself, I'm also patient. We've both incorporated and gotten a very small amount of monies from some Board members ... key beginnings of a scaling process

B: well that's good, but I think there need to

me: The economic advantages of free degrees are unparalleled and will make WUaS competitive, I think

B: be short term goals, not just long term
I'm not sure you can get there from

me: yes ... right now they involve more paper work, hiring interns, and getting the classes which will be for degree-granting happening (UC Berkeley TD's class on brain anatomy soon - also premed).

The short term goals are numerous :)

B: where you are. you need short term realistic objectives

me: All of the above goals seem realistic to me ... and involve diligence ... (which isn't necessarily blissful for me:)

B: realistic is when it has already happened. that's why the goals need to
be short term

me: The Nolo press book has a lot of realistic goals ;) ... one of which, incorporation, thanks in part to Nolo ... has already happened ...

B: have you considered the possibility of competition?
what's to stop Wikipedia from implementing your vision, for example?

me: There are so many educational endeavors out there, and WUaS has linked all of them to this page which could be
Our mission is unique ...

B: but not proprietary

me: is the short answer ... all languages, all subjects ... contingent on the navigator or planning committee

B: or funded

me: True ... I see all the projects out there as complementary.

me: As the World University Music School grows, something Wikiversity doesn't seem to have, I could see Jo and So benefiting from teaching opportunities, etc., for example

B: if what you're trying to do is a good idea and is doable, then other people will try to do it

me: I think the non-proprietariness - like Wikipedia - is an advantage, making it competitive.

B: all this implies a lot of money. free degrees don't bring in money very fast

me: I haven't seen it yet, probably due to WUaS's unique vision and mission and focus
And we've already gotten a very small amount of money
so precedent is there for this ...

me: (That is, I haven't seen the competition yet)

B: I don't think the competition has articulated such a grand vision, but that doesn't mean they haven't thought about it. they may simply be focused on shorter term goal

me: Perhaps ... One practical short term goal is how WUAS will begin to hire interns ... there's a lot of work and too few interns so far ... and lots of precedent in the IT revolution for startups

B: even Wikipedia doesn't have enough money to dream about the things you want to do. they just can't raise enough money

me: Missions matter ...

B: of course
but not everybody who has a vision is talking about it. most are talking about the next step

me: $10 million with a staff of 35, I heard 3 senior staff members at Wikipedia at a xerox parc q&a 3 months ago, say (also 2 weeks ago in the NYT's) ... I hypothesize they've found some wealthy philanthropists

True ... we have a lot of little steps ahead (a lot:), some of which I've mentioned above

B: Wikipedia has proven itself to be very useful. it's no longer just a dream, but they can't even get close to raising the kind of money your vision need

me: yes, they have a track record, true ... and a community ...
WUaS has raised a very little amount of money, and I think we'll raise more ...
The step by step approach a UC Berkeley class, for example, for WUaS credit and then 2 the next semester ... and with fundraising will yield results gradually, I think ... not sure about scale ...

B: uc berkeley classes for free?

me: One professor has made this offer, and he's taught a number of free Berkeley Webcast classes already, with whom we'd like to partner.

B: well that sounds positive

me: :)
one of those small tasks in the works ... which interns will facilitate with time ...

B: but talking about free medical degrees is likely to alienate a lot of people

me: good point ... the USA isn't Japan or Scandanavia

B: unrealistic goals or very fanciful goals may be idealistic, but they also
make a lot of people think you're crazy

me: Interesting ... I point to examples like free k-12 education in this country to such people ... these are societal (and cultural:) processes

B: it's ok to think that's a good idea, but there's a lot of political change required, so claiming it as part or your plan may not make sense to most people.

me: I think WUaS may be able to offer the first 2 years of a medical education online through the University of California, San Francisco, and then partner with local institutions, hypothetically even in Helsinki, Finland, and in Bangalore, India

me: So the approach is a quiet, informational technological one, not a political one ... who would have thought MIT OCW would have made it to 2000 courses - all free, all highest quality ... without political change ... although maybe becoming a precedent / catalyst for educational change in the U.S.

B: I don't see how these kinds of statements help your cause. I suspect they make most potential supporters very skeptical

me: They already exist

B: MIT already had all the courses and plenty of money.

me: precedent speaks for itself, and they're part of World University and School, already, as well ... and as part of the mission ... they're reality in a sense
And MIT OCW is open, free, and part of WUaS

B: they aren't part of WUaS until they say they say they are. and that's a huge obstacle I suspect

B: I don't think you're making friends with these people by claiming credit for what they do, or by claiming to be similar to them

me: They're open source, creative commons, I think, and are linked ... but, again, no faculty, degrees or networking ... which WUaS will gradually build, I think ... We'll see if UC Berkeley Professor D teaches in part from a related MIT OCW course

B: yes. that's exactly the kind of thing that would be useful--teaching from on line free material from high quality sources

me: (Nick Negroponte is a FB friend, actually) I think they share this share vision ... it's partly what OLPC (One Laptop per Child) is about ... but you're right, not everyone does ... and yet MIT OCW prospers (from within MIT) as does Wikipedia, independently, as does OLPC, independently (although they sell their machines to governments, something WUAS hopes to do with non US governments).

B: if you can get people to do that, you may accomplish something

me: It's in the works ... small step by small step, and interns will probably be the folks who make it grow ... :)

B: getting people together to study from open course ware and similar sources is what I think might be a realistic goal talking about a vision that goes far beyond that may just make that less

me: sounds realistic ... I think a lot of people, however, would appreciate free degrees, and it will be this which helps WUaS grow significantly

B: likely to happen
but you seem to me to be articulating a wish, not a plan

me: but the material for people to study open course ware is already available and I would guess that groups are already doing this.

me: To be seen, I think .. WUaS is incorporated and we've received some money ... and there a lot of small steps ahead, and a lot of interns to hire ... to be sure

B: so how do they network?

me: I haven't seen any ... but it's possible through WUaS if you know of interested people. I'll keep tuned to other ways I learn of ... and let you know

B: I haven't seen a good networking system based around the existing free material but you're not focused on this. my question is: why not?

me: Here's one way of networking at WikiEducator which I'll probably incorporate at WUaS - - They've got a Give Back 10 day conference beginning today, and a list of participants.
Building such networking is what interns will do
I'll probably incorporate this at "You at World University" - your good idea - as a further development of networking
This page, actually -

B: well maybe they're doing it already. it's not clear to me from a quick glance

me: Just creating such a page, and inviting participants to "Be Bold" and make a wiki edit :) are two forms of networking ... and then people will list common interests, and start to share ideas via various venues

B: yes. I suppose so.
getting late here
nice to catch up a bit
sorry we're not on island when you are

me: flourishing networking, on the par of chamber music, or raga, may be possible through the World University and School, but also after many small steps ... Likewise .. your skepticism usefully focuses interesting possibilities
too bad we won't see each other ... but perhaps we will before next year

B: that would be nice
I have to sign off for tonight

me: agreed ... keep on the lookout for resources for interns ... and perhaps we can talk about this later ... good night!

B: ok. good night!

( - July 21, 2010)

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