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Occupy Your (Open Source) Education

Student loan debt, a burden for the majority of young Americans who pursued higher education, was brought to the forefront when it became a tangible demand of the Occupy Wall Street Movement this fall. And it’s not wonder students are furious: According to the Wall Street Journal, in June 2010, total student-loan debt exceeded total credit-card debt for the first time, so it is no wonder the movement urged students to refuse to pay their loans.

So what can students do who are looking for a meaningful and engaging education, without forking over all that cash?  Luckily, thanks to open source innovations and alternative learning platforms on the Internet, people are beginning to find new means to get their information, connect with experts and mentors to support their career path, and learn valuable skills, all while avoiding the expensive route of higher education. No longer are universities and colleges the gatekeepers of knowledge, but how does one go about parsing through all these new digital resources and personalizing them?

Fast Company writer and author of DIY U, Anya Kamentz, is an expert in the growing open source technology movement and it’s influence on the shifting paradigm of education in the U.S. In 2011, the Gates Foundation turned to Anya to write a free ebook follow up to DIY U. The Edupunks’ Guide, is a guidebook for independent learners that shares new methods of content delivery, new platforms and new forms of accreditation that harness technology for an alternative type of curriculum.

Today, Anya will launch her other ebook, Learning, Freedom, and the Web, in collaboration with the Mozilla Foundation. I sat down to chat about how infonauts or aspiring students can play in the open world, the truth behind “digital distraction,” and the role of creative professionals in reinventing the crumbling American education system.