Degree Hack

Earlier in the week, I re-read the initial post by ralfe poisson and his verbiage around gaining “advantage by using unfair methods.”  ralfe mentioned hacks and here I will share an example of a Degree Hack (borrowing slashdot’s label) . These articles highlight the case of Richard Linder, who constructed an associate’s degree for under 3000 through some very creative strategies.

I want to  juxtapose the characteristics and questions around learning in the classroom and the question of “what is cheating” with Linder’s degree hack. The comments on the Chronicle of Higher Ed article assert that he couldn’t possibly have gotten a quality education through this method. Linder’s circumventing of widely accepted, mainstream approaches to credit feels like he’s getting about with something. But how do we know that his learning experience is not of adequate quality? While there is a lot of discussion of outcomes in education, but at the end of the day, most credentials are granted based on evidence of “time on task”– approximately 135 hours of effort = 3 credits. Why are we so sure that people sitting in a classroom sharing an experience together is a quality learning experience? Why are we so sure that if someone circumvents this that they’re “cheating” and it couldn’t have been a quality experience?

I don’t think his approach is for everyone, but I do think that if I were looking for someone with some creative solutions to problem-solving, I’d be interested in someone willing to take risks and think outside the box like this.


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