Friday, August 14, 2009

Sept 2009 Fast Company Magazine - Open Content Ed & Other Stuff

Some interesting stuff from the September 2009 issue of Fast Company... including a feature story about a fascinating topic I've been hearing frequently about of late.

FC writer Anya Kamenetz penned "How Web-Savvy Edupunks Are Transforming American Higher Education"... a long title given for a piece about an important topic. The concept is "open content" education, basically making available online learning that previously had been held behind an (often extremely expensive) brick and mortar wall.

The leading force behind the movement seems to be BYU professor David Wiley... who is also heavily involved in both non-profit and for profit private enterprise around open-content (or open-source) education. The first I heard of the movement or concept was from a Nov 2008 Time Magazine article about Western Governors University and more recent mentions of YouTube EDU and Apple iTunes U.

Attached to the Kamenetz piece is Fast Company's "Five Startups to Watch"... with these and other companies being part of the inaugural Venture Capital in Education Summit held earlier this year. The field is growing and I'm terribly interested from both a macro and personal level.

Big picture, the concept in it's various forms and representations should make education more available to all and for myself, I'm thinking of it as a way to find resources and forums to improve my writing.


In addition to that on open source education, there were two other pieces from this FC issue that stood out to me.

The first was "Heard of Allegiant Air? Why It's the Nation's Most Profitable Airline" about a carrier profitably serving mostly small markets (and doing it well I can say from personal experience).

The authors of "Made to Stick", Dan and Chip Heath, provide the second with "The Gripping Statistic: How to Make Your Data Matter"... about how to describe data and have it make sense. An example they give of something that could be worded better is "disposable diapers used could stretch to the moon and back 7 times". The Heath brothers point is that this doesn't tell you much, because if the trash generated was cut in half, "to the moon and back 3.5 times" still seems like a heck of a lot.