One of my reading hobbies for some years has been perusing books on getting education by distance learning. I am eager to see a world in which we do not depend on traditional institutions for credentials and degrees, in which the cost of education is drastically reduced, and in which we all use education in what I'll call a more "modular" way, taking from it what we need, feeling free not to take what we do not wish to have.
So far, the distance learning field remains in its infancy, although arguably, the baby grows rapidly.
Numerous programs permit one to get a Master's in Business Administration either entirely or nearly entirely by distance learning. A larger number permit one to complete an accredited bachelor's degree entirely non-traditionally. Numerous vocational training progams exist of some merit. Of course, hundreds of meritless unaccredited "degree mills" also exist. But thus far, only a few permit one to get an accredited liberal arts advanced degree at reasonable cost, in an interesting format.
Universities have become aware of how people will pay enhanced tuition for the privilege of not attending class. But my own fantasy would be to found a university based on teaching nothing vocational, charging as near to nothing as possible for instruction, devoted to graduate degrees in things as nearly useless as possible, and based on computer-based modules designed to be as much fun as possible.
It would have to be accredited, perhaps by the distance learning accreditation people, but it would be as resolutely useless otherwise as possible.
The school could offer M.A.s in
Science Fiction, Mail Art, Music with Home-made Instruments, Home-spun Theology, and Television Studies. A thesis would be required--how else could the school publish the campus 'zine? I can just imagine now showing up at the local community college, so that a kind volunteer can proctor one's exam on "Dialectics of Sesame Street and Captain Kangaroo" and "The Die Hard Films--Mythos of the American Landscape".
As with anything else I love, I'm sure the school would soon attract criticisms from writers in Salon.com, academics at universities that are cold all winter, and film critics who are often quoted in ads in USA Today saying "Pia Zadora is back and she's Brilliant!". But I think that education matters. I wonder what it would take to get an institution legally chartered and accredited.