(This post contains an embedded video, I recommend you read it on the blog as opposed to in the ‘newsletter’ format. Simply click the link in your e-mail and it will redirect to the article on the blog)

When you finished school, or matriculated as we call it in South Africa, did you know what you wanted to study at University?  I know I certainly didn’t, I changed my course twice in my first 3 months and then dropped out of university after 5 months, still without a clue as to what I wanted to study- but at least I knew what I didn’t want to study! After that unplanned gap year and some proper exploring I went back to university and got my degree. It seems loads of people have a similar dilema.

Here’s one way to solve the issue: “instead of getting accepted to college for four straight years, you get six years of school you can use anytime during your lifetime.”

The concept of the Open-Loop University by Stanford changes the way we progress through our careers, and ingeniously gets around the problem of college being about partying, and dodgy activities and the fact that the older you get, the harder it is to get back into studying. Basically Open-Loop changes university from a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience to a ‘throughout your lifetime’ opportunity.

The Open Loop site lists these 6 key benefits (with my commentary after each point):

  • De-stigmatized a range of legitimate patterns of learning (gap years, etc.) so that early-career students used their time and investment in on-campus learning wisely and for greater impact. So why not go and work for a year, volunteer, travel, find your passion, and then come back and hone it? Leave again, work, travel, find a new path or continue further down the path you are already on with further study?
  • Provided a way for older adults to pivot careers with an academic grounding, and to reconnect with a meaningful and energizing social context later in life. This makes me want to high-five someone. I know so many people who are at a point in their careers where they’re bored and looking for a change, but they only have certain qualifications and hence feel they are stuck where they are. Open Loop would provide such a huge opportunity for these adults to shift careers and undoubtedly change their lives for the better.
  • Revitalized Stanford with a broader mix of students by creating on-ramps at many ages; enabled populations traditionally underrepresented at elite institutions to gain greater access once they had time to overcome disadvantaged circumstances. We all know at least one person who couldn’t afford to go to university but really wanted to. Knowing that they had access to university at any point could serve as such a huge motivator to go out and get themselves into a financial position where in a few years time they would be able to afford it. This concept is so empowering the idea of it has me grinning from ear to ear.
  • Developed new operational infrastructure for the University with the ability to handle a more dynamic and shifting on-campus population. The potential collaborations and mentorships that could come out of this are incredible. People with real-world experience mixing with fresh ideas and young minds – the results of which would be a Pandoras Box of awesomeness!
  • Developed a distributed engagement model to maintain the broader network of Stanford populi. Instead of alumni leaving and taking their skills with them, Open Loop would keep them coming back, sharing their skills with others and garnering new ones, it’s a win-win.
  • Capitalized on the remarkable accomplishments of its populi through the invitation to return to campus as expert practitioners. This goes without saying, there would now be such a vast array of populi to call upon,  all with such vast and varying experience. Oh the possibilites…

For a better understanding of  the potential of Open Loop, watch the video below, it is set in 2100 and looks back at how Open Loop changed the university model.  I truly hope that this is what the university of the future will look like.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/93552345]

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