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Clay Shirky's Next Book
June 21, 2010 - 8:36pm

Dear Clay Shirky,

Please make the subject of your next book higher education. I loved Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age, and think you would be the perfect person to analyze higher ed and offer suggestions for change.

Some specific questions and issues I think you should tackle:

1. Are there examples of colleges and universities that have effectively re-invented themselves to take advantage of participatory and collaborative tools that technology and the Web make available?

2. Given that you teach in NYU's graduate Interactive Telecommunications Program I'm wondering how your own classes leverage social media. How have you been able to translate the theories and ideas explored in Cognitive Surplus to your own teaching?

3. I can't help but notice that while you teach at NYU, you did not follow the traditional academic route. According to your Wikipedia page, your degree is a BA from Yale in Fine Arts. I'm wondering if your educational background has given you advantages in analyzing the world of social media, and perhaps advantages in teaching, that us more traditional academic may lack.

4. Can you give examples of particular companies or services that are using the read/write social web and other cloud based web services to disrupt the higher education world? A narrative description of companies that are getting this right, and perhaps those getting it wrong, would make for a great read.

5. It would be great to read your analysis of the for-profit educational sector. Do you see the for-profits, such as U of P, acting as a positive force for change in our industry?

I'd like to thank you again for Cognitive Surplus. Your writing has re-energized my desire to partner with faculty and to create platforms and systems that are built around active student learning as the default course experience. My explicit goal in my teaching will be to move my students out of the passive consumption (television) mode and into tasks that require sharing and creating.

Have any of you been able to read Cognitive Surplus yet? What questions would you ask Clay Shirky to tackle in his higher ed book?


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