[iDC] Discussion: The Edupunks' Guide

Stephen Downes stephen at downes.ca
Thu Aug 4 21:58:04 UTC 2011

For the record, Jim Groom didn't "help" coin the term 'edupunk', he coined it, pure and simple, by himself, not "helping" some undesignated other.

The major popularizers of the term were probably Gardner Campbell and myself, which is why we were the ones on the SXSW edupunk panel eith Jim.

We have our disagreements, but I think we'd all agree that if Jim says a use of the term is incorrect, it probably is.

-- Stephen

-- Sent from my Palm Pre
On 3 Aug 2011 9:09 a.m., Anya Kamenetz <anyaanya at gmail.com> wrote: 

Hello all!
I was asked to try to start up a discussion for this week. This happens to be the week that my new e-book is being released, titled The Edupunks' Guide to a DIY Credential. It's 
the first-ever book underwritten by the Gates Foundation, and a follow-up 
to my 2010 book DIY U. Where DIY U made historical, economic and political arguments about the future of education, this is a guidebook. The premise is that learners who are curious and lacking in resources (money, time, physical access to a campus) can use the guide to create the future of education for themselves right now, by writing a personal learning plan, recruiting mentors and a personal learning network of peers, participating in online communities, and using open courseware. There are also profiles of a variety of institutions, organizations, and networks that specialize in catering to the needs of learners who are nontraditional in some way, and helping them to do all of the above and in many cases receive accreditation for learning done in nontraditional ways and contexts. The writing style is simple and assumes little prior knowledge of anything, even Google. 

As a guidebook, the arguments made by this book are implicit. One is that anyone can be an edupunk, as long as they feel their needs are not being met by the current education system. Among those who have objected to this appropriation of the term is Jim Groom, who helped coin it (although Mike Caulfield, another person instrumental in popularizing the term, agrees with my usage). 

Another is that rather than engage directly with reforming the system, change can be made by learners pursuing their own goals with the resources available to them now. One of the more prosaic changes I'd like to see is for colleges to review their prior learning, portfolio credit, and transfer credit policies to allow more students to receive credit for learning achieved in open environments. I believe this might happen if more students were aware of the options and petitioned their colleges to accept these credits. 

You can download the PDF here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/60954896/EdupunksGuide and an e-reader compatible plain-text version here http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/77938. In a couple weeks there will be a better-looking Kindle version and an EdupunksGuide.org site with community features launches in September.

I'd love to hear what people think about the implicit arguments I've articulated here and anything else you find worthy of note in the book itself.
Thanks so much,

New ebook! The Edupunks' Guide 

Fast Company column Life In Beta
Tribune Media column The Savings Game

Book DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs and the Coming Transformation of  Higher Education 
Blog DIYUbook.com 

Twitter @Anya1anya

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