(please forgive the moodle explanation. I have posted this in different places, some of which are not as familiar with moodle)
Imagine a system of education, supported by direct donation and advertising, where you could get the equivalent of a college education at little or no cost to you. I'll go over some of the resources and then give a framework of how the whole system should work.
-moodle is a free, open source, online education platform into which it is possible to plug in educational modules. It runs on a webserver with php and sql. I think there are also installations for running it standalone on windows and mac. With this, someone should be able to take these classes without a teacher, either on a website, or by downloading the modules to their computer. This makes education available (such as at library computers) and relatively cheap.
-there are already many open source moodle modules available, and they are relatively easy to create.
(note: the system does not have to be moodle, but moodle already has a large following, so it might be easier to implement.)
-there are already several private industry certification agencies which charge for testing an individual's knowledge of particular subjects (A+, etc). These agencies rely on their reputation for accurately representing that knowledge through certifying these individuals. If they are lax in their testing, their reputation suffers, and they lose money or go out of business.
-the private sector needs intelligent, educated individuals with marketable knowledge and skills. If the individual with these has a 4 figure education debt, instead of a 6 figure debt they can afford to work for less, initially, until they gain experience and justify a higher salary from their employer. If businesses can be convinced to accept these certifications and give them the same (or more) "weight" as a university degree when hiring, the system becomes self-sustaining.
This system has 3 beneficial side effects.
1. Nobody has to take the certification tests, so it is possible to get just the education part for free (no one can credibly argue against increasing the general education level).
2. The cost of a traditional college degree should go down, as the colleges compete for students.
3. No one is forced to take liberal arts classes that serve little or no purpose but indoctrination and padding of university coffers.
I would suggest that anyone should be able to submit modules for the "university", but that the certification agencies choose which classes are covered in their certifications. These classes would become the "course" to follow to get the particular certification. (e.g. psychology, accounting, statistics, etc. could be part of an advertising certification)
Here is how the thing would work from the student's point of view:
Bob goes to the website, and either downloads the standalone package, or registers at the site. He goes to the site of one of the certification agencies, and sees that for an advertising certification, the agency recommends that he take a particular psychology course, any accounting course, one of 3 recommended statistics courses, a writing course, and a sociology course. He finds the courses, signs up for them, and starts studying. During his studies, he connects with his "classmates" through forums and chat rooms (this is an opportunity for students or businesses to make money tutoring).
An undetermined length of time later, Bob (after aceing the quizzes for his classes) goes to a testing facility run by the certification agency. There, he pays $1000 (or whatever price the test is) and takes the test. Assuming he passes the test, he then applies for a job where one of the requirements is an advertising degree, or certification from a list of reputable agencies.
He gets and interview, and is able to get the job. He was as qualified as the other applicant who went to a traditional university, but he was able to accept a much lower salary, due to his lack of education debt.
Sorry for the long post, but there was a lot to cover.
What problems do you see with such a system?
How could these be overcome?
Whom can be contacted to get this plan in motion?
Comments are VERY welcome.