Education and the Good Enough Revolution

It’s increasingly important to consider how the Good Enough Revolution pertains to education. I’m a fan of educational research, but worry that it focuses too much on marginal differences, in a world that does not value marginal differences in quality anymore.

What does the world care about? The Wired article gets it right — we want ease of use, accessibility, and continous availability. And education is no different.

One way of looking at it is that the idea of quality has been enlarged, not demeaned. In the manufacturing model, quality was something that pertained to objects, because objects were their own contexts. A dishwasher doesn’t need to play well with your clothes dryer or your radio. It can,  for the most part, be evaluated on how well it does its job.

What the MP3 explosion showed us is that people are willing to trade quality as traditionally defined for portability, shareability, and availability. As the Wired article points out, we’ve seen this again and again with netbooks, Skype, Google Docs,  and YouTube. The question is not “How good is this?”, but “How well does this play with the other parts of my life?”

I’ve heard people mock the quality of University of Phoenix courses and other online offerings  — and in traditional terms they may be right As an object, I am sure that any course we are offering on campus is better than a UoP course.

But taking a more holistic view of quality this is not as clear. And as we move from the Manufacturing Age to the Network Age that is where the future of quality is headed.

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2 Comments on “Education and the Good Enough Revolution”

  1. Jared Stein says:

    I agree with these observations as far as my experience confirms them. These experiences also suggest the age-old adage that you get what you put in–you can extrapolate that to include education (with respect to, e.g., U of Phoenix), social media (with respect to quality of the social networks you help build), and even entertainment (I’m tempted to say you can find what you want, if you’re willing to work at the finding!).

  2. Mike says:

    Thanks Jared — haven’t seen you in a while.

    My Provost made an interesting point — there’s a parallel with GEE (Good Enough Education) and things like Flip cameras — no one takes you seriously as a photographer if you have a Flip camera or take pictures with your cell phone. And it’s similar with GEE — UoPhoenix is not taken as seriously by employers, and since that’s quite a bit of the point of a degree, showing up at an interview with a GEE degree is like showing up at a Wedding Shoot with a Flip camera.

    The most interesting point he made though is that we are starting to see some of the stigma of Good Enough technologies fade. The White House is on YouTube now — and unafraid that that makes them look unprofessional. People are throwing gmail addresses on their business cards and less worried about it. Colleges are building stuff in pbwiki, etc.

    If the same thing starts to happen with GEE we will see some major changes very quickly.


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