the 1K MBA

Clark Aldrich (via Stephen Downes, who I read often) talks about how a high-quality MBA will eventually be produced that will cost about $1,000. His argument comes down to this: 1) We have stuff now we never thought would be this cheap, like computers and cars (cars? cheap cars? that run? really?). 2) There’s a huge need for it in every country with a growing business sector with middle management that lacks MBA-like skills, and 3) the technology is on its way, if not there. Aldrich is a big proponent of (and consultant in) simulations, which are one way parts of mass, cheap education could be done. They’d be distance courses, he predicts people would flock to them en-masse, and to stay valued they’d have to be high-quality, so would take an initial investment.

The reason I like this is it’s a solution to a problem that has “winners” financially on both sides. The MBA school makes money, the MBA students get a good product for a good price. The reason I like scenarios like these is that they’re more likely to happen. In this reality.

There seem to be two kinds of educations, to bifurcate it for simplicity’s sake. There’s the kind you can put on your resume, and the kind you can’t. The kind you can put on your resume may have stuck, but it may not have – you pay your money, you get your degree, but the information’s useless. But you have your degree, and your job will probably train you on what you actually need to know, which may or may not be related (probably not) to your degree.

The kind you can’t – I learned how to properly drain and smash a coconut for neat consumption over the weekend, via our dear Internet. I have friends that can do whole jobs that they aren’t paid to do, but they don’t have the degree. They’re experts at geneology, or cooking, or painting, or building, but their degree is in computer science or finance or education. You can’t put that on a resume, you can learn all you want about it, but it’s got to come from you. There’s not outside validation. So, you head to school and get a degree and go through the expensive, often inefficient steps to learn, and if you’re at a research school (with a good reputation) you’re often not taught by instructors but researchers who definitely know the stuff but would rather be reading about it than teaching it.

My ideal would be inexpensive, rigorous tests that everyone can take. You think you know the stuff? You put together your own curriculum strung together with Youtube videos, blog posts, and free articles on Google Scholar? You bought a second-hand book from the library book sale and went through the problems? Pay $20 and take the test and get it done. The test may be written, it may be multiple choice, it may be performance. Whatever it is that you have to do on the job for the degree you want. Want to take it again? That’s fine, another $20. That’s the first idea.

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