Matrices

“A situation or surrounding substance within which something else originates, develops, or is contained: ‘Freedom of expression is the matrix, the indispensable condition, of nearly every form of freedom.’ (Benjamin N. Cardozo).”

In his article “The Real Precipice,” Richard Holmgren, Vice President for Information Services and Planning at Allegheny College, offers a hypothetical scenario for just how an alternative model integrating the Carnegie Mellon Online Learning Initiative, existing universities, and corporate interests might work. In this scenario, a university that is already committed to, and active in, online competency-based credentialing would partner with a provider similar to the OLI to create a fictional online college (call it “New Way College”) within the larger host institution. New Way College provides a basic curriculum of hybrid courses with no more than twenty students per course, enabling students to earn an associate degree at significant cost savings.
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The challenge.  The U.S. education system struggles to find a model appropriate to the time. Trust in the public education system is at an all-time low.

The opportunity and the talent.  At the same time tutoring and homeschooling are growth industries. There is a superabundance of recent Ph.D. graduates with no immediate employment opportunity.  In both the humanities and the sciences there are significant numbers of highly educated potential educators with no opportunities awaiting them upon graduation. This new generation of displaced academics, steeped in the use of contemporary networked education technologies and resources, is in search of a venue to make themselves useful.

The Matrices project will leverage the availability of this cadre of skilled yet displaced academics.   These disenfranchised educators are compelled to reinvent themselves in the upheaval of social, economic, and technological change. Our 21st-century itinerant academics are highly motivated to re-architect their own role in education.  The Matrices project will provide the space to make that happen.

The Matrices project aims to provide personalized education to registered students in grades 9 through 12.  The project will provide directed one-on-one tutoring and small group instruction to students in the manner of the Oxford don, or tutor.  The Matrices educators will be recruited from the ranks of recent Ph.D. graduates,  current private school instructors, and mentors from industries and professions relevant to the aspirations of students in the local “academy.”  The Matrices project concierge service model will ensure directed learning to students in their own homes and other venues as appropriate.  The flexibility of the concierge model will enable instructors, with a small cohort of students, to tailor their education in a manner impractical under traditional systems.  As a result, the Matrices project will deliver directed results based on the needs and ambitions of the students and their families.

Abundant research over several decades consistently reveals the viability of one-on-one tutoring as a superior mode of learning.  The figure below, from a paper by Benjamin Bloom, “The 2 Sigma Problem. The Search for Methods of Group Instruction as Effective as One-to-One Tutoring,” in Educational Researcher, powerfully illustrates that superiority:2-sigma-problem2

While the superiority of one-on-one tutoring is revealing, the opportunity for the establishment of the Matrices project looms as a result of three trends converging at this time:

  • Maturation of network technologies and open education resources.
  • Superabundance of doctoral student graduates in both the Humanities and Sciences with no hope of securing tenure track positions in colleges and universities.
  • Rising costs of private school/dissatisfaction with public school system.

Concierge Access.  Unlike traditional preparatory school teachers who typically have 80-100 students, the The Matrices project tutors will engage with 20 students that they meet privately with each week.  The The Matrices project will feature a “concierge access service” in which Ronin will meet their students in security of their homes.

There are not enough college classroom seats to go around.

Network technologies and distributed education models are increasingly available.

Secondary education is increasingly suspect – remediation is required.

Public confidence in the education system is eroding.

Tutoring and homeschooling are on the rise

Education, both as an enterprise and a social need, is expanding and evolving, while traditional mechanisms are increasingly incapable and inadequate to keep pace with the opportunity and the potential.

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