As is often the case with educational institutions where students are somewhat elite and are engaged in exciting activities that are viewed as special, there is the risk that a culture of elitism and exclusion could develop at Space College. We'd like to prevent this at the onset.
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Endorsements from prominent scientists, educators, agencies, companies and celebrities are a part of many education and outreach projects. Space College will engage in such activities as well. Unlike far too many space-related projects which often have no criteria whatsoever, Space College will focus on endorsements that directly relate to what Space College is all about.
Space College will also strive to be "backwards compatible" so as to allow participants with limited computer access and software tools to participate in Space College. Also, many of the mentors that will participate in Space College's activities will be from older generations that tend to not be as adept or enthusiastic about using the latest, greatest, newest thing. Of course, Space College participants will be enlisted in the creation of solutions to access issues.
Space College will seek to engage with corporate sponsors for the purpose of financial support of participants and activities, use of company facilities and personnel, donation of hardware, and employment opportunities. As part of these activities endorsements and recommendations are likely to be part of the overall process - and clear mention will be made on Space College materials including its website.
While use of physical resources and activities in specific locations is required for what is envisioned as being the full Space College educational experience, a substantial portion will be done remotely using online courses, web conferencing, and other Internet modes of interaction. Space College will strive to be at the forefront of all modes of social networking and remote collaboration and will seek to help push the boundaries whereby such tools are used on Earth and, in space, and on other worlds. Given that telepresence has a strong potential application, Space College will make use of it whenever possible.
Whenever possible Space College materials will be presented online for anyone to use free of charge. Creative commons and open source intellectual property classification will be used as much as possible. Donations will be suggested - but not required. Feedback mechanisms, wikis, and other means whereby the materials can be improved or utilized will be provided.
In the United States, students often attend community colleges (2 year colleges) while still living at home. This cuts down on expenses and often provides an educational opportunity where none would otherwise exist. For many people this is the only way that they'd ever have access to any form of college education. In less developed nations, access to college - at any level - is often limited due to cost, lack of educational institutions, and geographic access to these institutions.
There will be an overt mechanism within the core nature of Space College whereby the private sector is involved - not only as a potential sponsor but also as a potential benefactor. The Merchant Marine is an example. Companies could be encouraged to make charitable (tax deductible) donations to Space College to underwrite the participation of students in the form of stipends, scholarships, grants, etc. In addition, corporate sponsors could also offer employment to students that they have sponsored after they complete their course of study at Space College.
While careers in space exploration will certainly include employment in the private sector as managers, marketers, sales representatives, etc. Space College does not seek to become a business school per se. Nor does it plan to ignore the business aspects of space exploration. Right now there are a large number of entrepreneurs with start-ups all competing for a slice of the new business frontier they see in space. Some of the ventures are credible. Many are probably not.
Accreditation of educational institutions offers two benefits. First, it assures students and employers that the degree that an individual has meets a certain level of quality. Secondly, accreditation offers a certain level of interchangeability and transferability of educational credits when an individual moves from one institution to another. Of course, the lack of accreditation has the obvious value of alerting students and employers to possible issues with an individual's academic record.
Part of learning how to explore space is to learn how to work well as a team and to do so in a mission format. It is also important to have hands on experience with the hardware, science, software, and operations of the systems that are used to conduct this exploration. Yet while it is important to have the classroom and laboratory experience, it is of equal importance to have experience in the field. Armed with classroom and laboratory training, Space College students need to be challenged so as to use this background in real remote, strange, difficult, potentially hazardous, frustrating, cramped, isolated, and hectic locations and situations. Students need to identify problems and develop solutions with inadequate resources, take orders, follow orders, all while maintaining team cohesion, accomplishing mission tasks, and learning. "Being there" is the only way to truly do this. In Star Trek jargon this is called an "Away Team".
As students pass through the Space College and move into the workforce, a concerted effort should be made to retain contact with them via an alumni association of sorts - one that is actively engaged on a daily basis. Space College alumni will be used as a resource for faculty, advice, donations evangelism, and other modes of support. Alumni benefits along the lines of what is commonly seen with universities should be encouraged.
Space College will begin by looking at the existing state of space education and create an online resource that documents online courses, textbooks, and other resources. As gaps in available content become obvious, Space College will seek to fill those gaps. Eventually, Space College will offer courses for credit.