Okay, so my Onion-ish take on the Annoyed Librarian’s article about those Philly library schools is a little bitter. Why should I be bitter? I’m gainfully employed, right?
But alas, the AL did bring up a few points that I’ve often thought about myself: 1.) Why the heck would anyone enroll in a library program NOT accredited by the ALA (I haven’t seen a job ad that doesn’t require this) and 2.) the Philadelphia pool of library jobs is shrinking at an alarming rate while hoardes of librarian wannabes flock to area programs (and even distance programs — Pitt is currently offering a Philly cohort of its FastTrack program). You know something’s wrong when the crappy part time “circulation assistant” or “media services assistant” positions are going like yesterday’s hotcakes. Why the sudden glut of libraryness?
As an almost-professional librarian (still the dreaded ‘paraprofessional’) who is secure enough to poke fun at herself and the profession that many quip “you need to go to grad school for THAT?”, the view from the ground is stark at best. Positions in Scranton and Erie suddenly look appetizing. Now one can justify an hour-and-a-half commute each way, thinking, “but I could get so much reading done on the R6…”
But there has to be a reason, right? I mean, these jobs must be fantastic for them to be in such high demand and pay such middling wages, right? Please? Yes?
So apparently a one-world order is beginning in the mashed-up form of social networking, higher ed, and pure craziness. Enter the University of the People. Lightly blanketed communist bootcamp? No, just the brainchild of Shai Reshef, an entrepreneur who’s already done his share of online ventures in the business world.
While enrollment wouldn’t be completely free, costs would be kept low (estimated between $10-100 per course) and depend on the individual’s needs. And, of course, everything would be conducted completely online — no physical buildings needed.
This kind of open courseware has been around for a few years already in the US. Yale, along with dozens of other universities and colleges, have made certain courses freely available online (not for credit) to anyone with an internet connection and knowledge of the English language.
We’ll see how this venture pans out. Watch out, University of Phoenix!
I know, it’s a short order to fill. But now anyone can participate and get a taste of one of the Ivies in their own office, bedroom, kitchen, or … toilet even. I don’t care, and I don’t want to know. But if you have an Internet connection you can go to class. For free.
So Yale University is joining the online frenzy with the aid of a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Over an 18 month trial session, these partners will provide offerings from 8 core courses, completely free to the public. Poetry, philosophy, psychology, religion – the works.
While these courses won’t earn you any credits, it’s a relatively unprecedented move for such a prestigious school (or any school, for that matter) to provide audio, video, transcripts in multiple languages, syllabi, etc, to the world at large. I’d say this is a great step towards open education, whether it earns a spot on your CV or not.