We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Revolutionary, indeed. As I have written earlier in this space, the ground has moved beneath the feet of higher education, much of which will look very different in but a few short years.
It will be fascinating to see what good competition will do to the higher-ed government-industrial complex. In time, I think it will blow it wide open for better or worse. Not just in STEM, but in everything.
I beg to differ. It won't change anything. For the MIT credential to have value, (1) you must pass the admissions process, (2) you must compete head-to-head in real-time, on-site with others who have passed the tests. Most importantly, there is NO substitute for hands-on, in the lab experience. VOnly 2 to 3 percent of the population can do STEM studies at all (less at the MIT level), and very few of these have the discipline for self-study. This scheme is just a feelgood sop to the unaware and unable.
There is also the STEM myth operating here. The hard fact is we already have enough STEM graduates. There is no shortage of such people, especially at the grad school level. Almost three-quarters of all graduate students in STEM programs are foreigners--who go home. There's no work for them here.
STEM jobs are especially vulnerable to automation. Computers and modern communications have eliminated many entry level engineering and financial jobs and will continue to do so. When I was a coop student in the early 60s, the typical survey crew was three to four people; the field notes were hand-written in a book; and a skilled drafter converted the notes to maps. Today, one person comprises the whole crew; the filed notes are on a disk or thumb drive; and a program converts the data on the drive to a map without any or very little human intervention. Four to five guys became one. Dream on.
You've revealed the tech problem that gets mixed in with STEM as an academic field. Theoretically, automation would free up the STEM person to do more intellectual tasks other than data collection. Unfortunately, many never get past the technician phase were they are the data collectors.
Now, the real problem is a lot of "experience" could be gained by doing the tech work. If you were a thinker, you learned the ins and outs of a process and could see how to improve it. Now, things have swung toward the theoretical with real fiddling with the toys left to those already inclined.
Take pen and paper drafting. Pretty much not taught anymore with CAD and computers replacing it. But beyond the output of drafting, the process trained the mind to 3-D visualization and other skills useful outside drafting. But we suffered the same with machine tools taking away training in hand tool work in the vocational fields. We really need to train kids in these manual skills so they can develop intellectually to be more than operators and theoretical thinkers.
And this fits my student loan forgiveness plan. We let them discharge the debt in bankruptcy but take the credential. They can trade on the knowledge, assuming they learned anything useful, but not the degree which they didn't pay off.
The interesting thing here is that MIT can afford to give away coursework. It's reputation is secure. There's no question - and I happen to know this from personal experience ('74!) - that an MIT degree gives value to both the holder and whoever hires them.
MITx is of no value if you are trying to get a credential for someone else to use to evaluate you. It's of immense value if what you want to do is learn something.