Steven T. Ziegler won’t be losing his job after all. At least not yet.
Mr. Ziegler figured prominently in a Chronicle article and video this week about the future of the open-course movement. The story recounted how the 39-year-old high-school dropout discovered free online lecture videos while recovering from a hang-gliding accident –- and how, on the verge of losing his job, those free courses couldn’t provide the college credential that he craved to help find a new one.
In an e-mail message this week, Mr. Ziegler shared the good news that his employer, a Pennsylvania restaurant-equipment company, had “agreed to let me stay on pretty much indefinitely until I find another job.” Mr. Ziegler, a father of three, welcomed this “little bit of security heading into the holiday season.” He credited the value of his recent work on product videos, and now blogging for the company.
Mr. Ziegler has also plunged into reading Milton’s Paradise Lost, assisted by Yale videos. His first reaction: “Holy cow! I will definitely need the online help to make it through this monster. But I am in the mood for a challenge.”
The Chronicle article, which questioned how universities would be able to sustain these free-education projects, has triggered a range of responses in the open-content community. Stephen Downes described it as “a longish article that puts the worst possible spin on open educational resources.” Curt Bonk, author of The World Is Open, agreed with some who see the need for “better business models” and praised the ability of open courses to help those not served by traditional education. Cable Green argued that “sustainable investments need to be for local projects — for local reasons.”