Of course, these academic anarchists didn’t ‘kill the university’. Not yet. But their ideas – digital scholarship, non pedagogical broadcast knowledge transfer, multimodal learning, open courseware - did spawn an open and ethical and wherever possible free rethinking in how we view the role of education and how the internet, like with everything else, fundamentally challenges it. iTunes U is just one visible corporate sign of punk ideas going mainstream.
Universities of course fought back. But the current funding crisis in Western education will only strengthen rather than lessen the appetite for exploring new free diy educational methods outside the uni system. Add to this the ongoing widespread critique about the lack of business relevance and more recent dangerous greed-is-good ethical imbalance of the £9,000 a year courses on offer, and you can see where this is all going. Or rather, where students are not going, whether their banker parents are willing to break the bank to bankroll their tutelage or not. China, busy popping out universities and poaching Western gurus by the second, might do well to rethink their approach.
Of course, businesses need to know what’s happening here, particularly as they often have to pick up the tab of re-educating graduates. Sure, some businesses will always war over the lucky few grads with the hyperspecialist STEM skills they crave. But most will have to now face up to a generation of Talentpunks who have had little choice – rather, I’d argue have been smart enough to make the better choice – in educating themselves.
So how do you spot a Talentpunk? How do you compare them with that top ten MBA grad before you? Here are some clues:
- Talentpunks know what an open access journal or open courseware is: they also know that even if the courses are a year out of date (the trade off with free), they come from a global list of world class universities: most Grads access only the journals their Uni pays for (an ever shortening list) and of course have ‘paid’ for one line of courseware
- Even if Talentpunks can’t openly confess to buying them all, they have read more of the latest books on their subject than on the Uni curricula, whose reading lists are beyond antiquated (they have probably read more of those books than you too)
- Talentpunks don’t just have a blog, they have a business, they have tried things, to put what they have taught themselves into action: Talentpunks want to bring that experience to you now, Grads want you to pay them to start from scratch
- Talentpunks are lifelong teachers and learners: Grads only know how to learn – and need teachers
- Talentpunks know the value of marketing themselves and are connected to more than just fraternity pals: all you have to do is align your brand to them to reach even more Talentpunks: Grads have so far only been branded by their Uni’s
- Talentpunks don’t come burdened with debt: Grads will always have one eye on paying that debt off fast, whether that’s with you or your rival
These are of course over generalisations, but they’re not far removed from lived experience. Some of my own family have skipped Uni and, with help from the people around them pointing them to free knowledge, put that punk learning on their education lite CV’s and got pretty awesome jobs. HRpunks are hiring now. They know a good thing when they see it.