There are two great articles currently on GOOD: the first is about a new kind of classroom-less college for adult learners; and the second is about transformational schools that are working to create new notions of learning and teaching.
College Unbound is a new learning system that allows students to focus their education around a particular passion, interest or goal. Individualized plans are created for each learner, incorporating online seminars, technology and team learning, and an internship or job where the student gets to master and incorporate real-world skills into their educational objectives.
Some scary information from the article:
"How broken is the system? Over the past 20 years, the United States has fallen from first to 12th in the percentage of young people with postsecondary degrees. Tuition’s doubled in the past decade, rising faster than any other item in the Consumer Price Index since 1978. Student loan default rates are increasing. Only 56 percent of students complete a four-year degree in six years. And a nationwide study last year, using a test called the Collegiate Learning Assessment, found that 36 percent of students demonstrate no gain in learning between freshman and senior year."
I think we all know that the higher-education system is broken, and there are a lot of opinions out there right now about how to fix it. But sometimes it feels like people are just throwing ideas against a wall to see what sticks, and so many are being tested right now that it will likely be decades before any one design comes out on top. But it seems more and more as though "integrated, experience-based and outcome-based" strategies like College Unbound are coming into vogue, and I hope that (with increased funding) they can start to pull together the data they need to prove that it's a worthwhile system for many adult learners.
In a similar vein, educational activist Sam Chaltain is asking his readers (and the general public) to submit the names of schools they feel are "transformational", based on the Q.E.D. Foundation's Transformational Change model. The Q.E.D. Foundation states that truly transformational education is where students find the "skills and know-how to co-create their public world, to participate in their community and help shape the local and global decisions that will impact their lives". I enjoyed reading over the 22 traits of a transformational school (and learned a lot!), and am discouraged to hear that only two schools have so far met his requirements. I truly hope that more educators, parents, and administrators read the Transformational Change Model and start brainstorming ways to incorporate the ideas there into a more progressive system for students of all ages.