Friday, May 13, 2016

35. Creating A Universally Free Education


       In this blog post, rather than showing my next game engine update which would still be too early at the moment, I am going to talk about something else. That is, how can we make education universally free if not more affordable. My outlook on education might seem nontraditional and unconventional to many but this is primarily due to the fact that I am for the most part self-taught. Independent studies became my only option to pursue game development because I couldn't afford to the attend the colleges I was accepted to. To my surprise, independent studies became the best option for me. I didn't pursue game development with the intent to make a lot of money; I just simply wanted to learn it. Like myself, there are many who simply just want to pay rent and get an affordable education in their field of interest, but the predatory student loan system is making a profit off of our desire to do so. I have always believed in a virtually free higher education. Higher education cannot be a luxury for a privileged few. It is an economic necessity that every family should be able to afford, and every person with a dream and ambition should be able to access. Why do I believe in making a free higher education? Simply put, education is a human right. With that said, you are probably reading thinking:

  • How will teachers get paid?
  • How is it going to be free?
  • Who will see the value in a free education?

       We need to see the value in higher education, and I am not talking about the price tag. The value of having a great quality education is that it can change your life – it can help improve your quality of life. For now, if you are reading this, I just want you to visualize what America would look like if there were to be a free higher quality education. What would that look like? It wouldn’t matter was “Class” you are. It wouldn’t matter what sort of income you make to have this. It wouldn’t even matter where you live because it will be accessible everywhere- in every library, in every school, from every home because it would be made accessible online. No, I am not necessarily talking about online classes. For now, I want you to imagine all of the endless possibilities if education were made free and feel free to post comments below of what you came up with. Education will then be utilized as a way for people to become free of poverty and the “Rich or Upper Class”, the “Middle Class” and the “Poor Class” will be virtually pretty much gone. My belief, my dream is for this country to have a free higher education.

       If this were to truly be free then there will be one so called “Class” in America. I would simply like to call it “The Human Class”. The real reason why we have classes began to divide further apart traces back years ago ever since books were invented. Ever since the first book printed with movable type, created by Gutenberg, this posed a new opportunity as well as a problem. People could access books because they were so full of ‘Knowledge and facts’ and in this was seen as a problem because those in authority saw the “Value” in books. It was a problem to them because jobs at the time were chosen for you. So by making books more accessible, it would allow people to learn different skills outside of the job they were given. Later books were distributed with soaring prices, prices so high that only the few could afford them. This is what made the gap between classes even wider, thus adding fuel to the segregation between the “rich” and the “poor”. I realize I am omitting and skipping a lot of information but just bare with me.

       We need to move education in America to the 21st century. I explain more below brainstorming solutions as to how we can do that:

1.) Video Tutorials
       What if America created a Universal Virtual School that can be accessed online that provided clear comprehensive tutorials taught be some of the best professors in the country that is fully accredited? This is very realistic especially with the advancements in technology we have today. You will learn from the greatest minds of the best professors in the country as well as around the world. What if America paid the professors up front to help create these great quality video tutorials? To further help these professors, what it these videos they help create were published on this virtual school’s YouTube Channel and monetized thus further adding to their salary? The goal of the video tutorials will be to break down hard subjects and topics in easy-to-understand language. With this feature, the student can follow along as they watch the video and pause, fast-forward, and rewind the video at any time in case they missed something or wanted to hear something repeated again. We have seen this work well with YouTube video tutorials as well as resources like Khan Academy, Thinkwell, and

       The goal is to allow students to essentially work at their own pace and not feel rushed. This would be great for non-traditional students coming to school. This would also be great for students who are working a job or two and or raising a family by helping to work around their schedule. They can create their own schedule to match their needs so that their job doesn’t feel like its compensating for their course work. With video tutorials like these, students will not have to worry about when to sign up for a class and what days and hours the classes are because they are all videos and can be accessed at any time if they were to sign up for this virtual school. This will eliminate many “excuses” and “problems” students run into in traditional schools and colleges. All schools whether it be public or private high-schools and colleges will be able to utilize these video tutorials to be used in the classroom and engage students in new ways. Today’s education system disengages students in schools.

2.) Notes
       What if this Universal Virtual School provided Lecture Notes in the form of pdfs and Power Points to review the material from the videos, complete with key concepts and definitions that students will need to remember?

3.) Interactive Games & Simulations

       What if this school provided students with interactive games and simulations to put into practice their knowledge so they can actually apply what they have learned? To learn more about how games can play a huge role in education and truly engage students, check out the Gamification and Games in Education Playlists by Extra Credits. 

4.) Innovative Test & Quizzes
       What if this Universal Virtual School created by America gave test and quizzes (that are not timed!)? You can’t fully see what someone knows by setting a time-limit. These quizzes will let you put your knowledge directly into action. When you, the student gets your quiz results back, they don’t simply just list which ones you got wrong. They will show you how to work each problem and explain what sort of mistakes you might be making. That is the goal! To help students learn from their mistakes. Knowledge cannot be strictly determined by how many questions students got right or simply multiple choice. These quizzes will score each of its questions out of a percentage by looking at the steps the student takes to arrive to their answer. The questions in the quizzes can change if a student decides to take it over to avoid cheating but they will be ‘similar’. If a student wants to do better they can take the test & quizzes over as many times as they please. 

It can be insulting to define someone as "smart", "average" or "dumb"
solely based on how they scored on their ACT and or SAT. There are
plenty of successful people who found their passion and happy;
regardless of how they performed in school or on a test.

The Problem with Standardized Testing & How We Determine Grades
       I will explain briefly why I don’t think standardized testing truly determines someone’s intelligence. For one, many students completely guess! I will give a prime example from a personal experience of mine. I had two friends who took the same multiple choice math test. One got an A and the other barely got a B. The one who got an A wasn’t necessarily more knowledgeable or smarter than my friend who got a B. Why you may ask? I looked at both of their test thoroughly. My friend who got the B clearly knew more because I saw him work out the problems to arrive to his answer and I was upset at how close apart the optional answers were on this test. I mean very close. I saw how he worked out his problems and although he got the wrong answer he actually understood what he was doing. By seeing how he worked out his problem, I was able to see his thought process. My friend who got the A had barely anything written down, didn’t work through the problems, didn’t really prepare for the test. I asked him how did he get an A and he simply said, “Dude, I completely guessed on all of them haha!” This kind of irritated me a little. The problem I see in education is that we measure someone’s intelligence on standardized test strictly by how many they got right or wrong without knowing their thought process and many students are taught to guess the “most probable” answers.

"Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety nine percent perspiration."
-- Thomas Alva Edison

       Knowledge should not be strictly limited and determined by how many questions students got right or simply multiple choice. Today's standard grading methods don't always reflect a student's effort or knowledge because they don't show their thought process as to how or why they arrived and concluded their answer. Grades can sometimes be damaging as teachers, parents and students alike use them to either encourage or discourage others. I can't tell you how many times I've been asked what were my SAT and ACT scores. All those times in school I witnessed students laugh and put down someone because they scored higher on a test or an assignment. The parent patting their son or daughter on the back when they see all A's on their report card but never saw their actual work, oblivious to whether or not they cheated, or even bothered to ask what all did they learn. Grades can also be damaging because it teaches students that getting wrong answers or making mistakes are bad, when in fact, making mistakes is a huge part of the learning process. Once big misconception I had when I was younger adults would tell me was that if you fail in school or end up with bad grades, you won't be successful later in life. Don't let an exam determine your fate!

"Students are forced to accept their grades, which, over time, cause students to eventually internalize a life-long view of themselves as “smart,” “average,” or “dumb” — with profound impact on their lives. However, students do not get to officially grade teachers. If a student receives an F, it is assumed the student failed, not the teacher."
-- John Bell
Director of Leadership Development, YouthBuild USA

5.) eBooks
       What if this Universal Virtual School provided the world’s largest library of books that can be accessed by all. These eBooks can be looked at and viewed freely online through this Universal Virtual School. This school would pay the authors to make thier books viewable. It would also provide the option to students to purchase hard-copies if they wanted to and they can be sent to their home address.

       To conclude, this is not necessarily like online classes. Many online classes work great and many are not so great. Online classes can be missed, whereas these are video tutorials which can be accessed any point in time. Also, my idea of this Universal Virtual School is not necessarily created to somehow replace colleges, but to provide people an alternative option. So whatever your reason may be, whether you couldn't afford to attend a university, lack the confidence, or if it's personal - this can help. Something like this will not necessarily work for every major but it will be highly beneficial. An example of such a major is becoming a doctor which you must be present to understand surgeries hands-on but the doctorate program can still utilize this Universal School as far as videos, tests and quizzes. This Universal Virtual School could potentially work in-conjunction with colleges, allowing students to transfer credits over.

       For example, a student who wants to be a doctor can use this Universal Virtual School to save money and get their General Education course requirements out of the way such as English Composition, Math, Science, etc. thus saving them money for when they go into the core work of their doctorate program. Students can use this Universal Virtual School to transfer credits in to earn certain degrees. What makes this unlike most traditional colleges is that you as the student, can work and learn at your own pace and eventually graduate in your own time. It might take you longer than somebody else and that’s OK. Also, if you are interested in learning game design, art and or programming, check out my Resources page. I highly recommend it!

       Redefine how you view education. Its absurd to limit the term 'education' to a person's formal schooling. There is more than one way in this world to be an educated man or woman. So when I refer to creating a universally free education, I am not limiting it to strictly college because then it would be difficult to answer how will teachers get paid. My goal with this blog post was also to show you that there are so many resources out there, many in which you probably have or might not have been even aware of. Thanks for reading and feel free to share your thoughts below.

"Intelligence plus character; that's the goal of a true education."
-- Martin Luther King Jr.

"An educated person is one who has so developed the faculties of their mind that they may acquire anything they want, or its equivalent, without violating the rights of others." 
-- Napoleon Hill

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