Thursday, December 14, 2006


1) High resolution video record a couple dozen people each teaching the same college course (e.g. calculus, freshman physics, freshman chemistry, partial differential equations, etc).

2) Make those video recordings free or very cheap to download on the internet. Sell them as DVDs too.

3) Put automated tests on the web where anyone can test their ability to do, say, calculus, freshman physics, etc).

4) Have testing days where you can go to a room and say what you want to be tested in (e.g. calculus, freshman physics, etc). Proctors in the room prevent cheating. Tests are designed by the appropriate British professional societies. Then pay a fee and sit down at a PC that shows you the test questions (variations thereon generated automatically with different numbers and such) and you write in paper to figure out the answers. Then you enter the answers.

5) At the end of the test they tell you if you passed and with what score and that score goes into a database. You then can say you passed freshman chemistry or organic chemistry or inorganic chemistry or linear algebra.

6) Repeat process until the professional societies say that you have demonstrated your understanding of a bachelor's degree worth of chemistry, physics, math, mechanical engineering, accounting, or other useful topics.

Granted, this does not work so well for topics like Dramatic Arts. But it would save probably tens of thousands of pounds for each person who wants to earn a degree in an objectively measurable topic.

The idea is not original with me however it is apparent that, if this is on the net, it would be possible for anybody able to visit Scotland & able to paythe testing fees to seek such a degree. So long as there is no relaxation, if anything the opposite, in the standards required a degree from Edinburgh, or indeed Islay University would be desirable anywhere.

In many ways this is what the Open University could have been had it been willing to divorce itself a little more from conventional education. It is something we could do now.

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