The Conversation web site is currently half way through a series of invited posts entitled “The Future of Higher Education”. It has been a disappointing series so far in that five of the first six posts have focussed on MOOCS and the sixth has been a general post on equity in online learning. Now MOOCs are an important development but the future of higher education is bigger than MOOCs and the questions are much more fundamental. Here are are some questions that I think this series should be addressing. Continue reading
People that know me know that I didn’t always agree with Steve Jobs but I have no doubt of his creative skill and vision and his impact on modern life. I also think he had a huge impact on education and not always in the ways you might expect. I’ve been watching the Stanford University commencement address given by Steve Jobs in 2005. I had never seen it before his death on Thursday.
In his address he tells three stories about his life. The first is about his adoption and how his biological parents where determined that he be adopted by college graduates but that didn’t happen. In fact neither of his adopted parents had a college education. When Steve Jobs went to college himself he described how he effectively dropped out after six months. In his words what happened was that he then ‘dropped in’. He spent the next 18 months going to classes that interested him including a class on calligraphy that sparked an interest in beautiful typography. Ten years later when building the first Apple computer he used his understanding and knowledge from those classes to create what he describes as the first computer with beautiful typography. Continue reading
As a ‘disenfranchised insider’ I really enjoyed reading Tony Bates’blog post ‘Reforming the university: evolution or revolution?’. In it Dr Bates discusses change in universities from a stakeholder point of view and considers Faculty, Students, Government and the Economy. He concludes by saying:
My view is that universities do need to change quite radically, and some form of direct intervention is needed to speed up the reform of the university. In other words, we need to build on academic contributions that suggest the need for and methods of change, and move these into some kind of movement for change. The stakes are high. Those countries that move quickly and successfully to bring about the much needed changes in universities will reap enormous benefits, educationally, economically and socially.
He then goes on to ask four questions of his readers.
- Do universities need reform? Are they meeting the needs of the 21st century as well as can be expected, or do they need to change more quickly?
- If they do need to change, what models or visions can we offer? What role should technology play in these models or visions?
- If change is needed, what is the best way to bring about change in a timely and orderly manner? Or should we not worry about whether it is orderly?
- Who will join me on the ramparts with my banner?
I have commented on Dr Bates’ blog but I do think it is worth expanding on some of those comments in my own post. So here are my answers to Dr Bates’ question. Continue reading
I had an interesting experience last month, I was asked to participate in focus groups to help a university IT services department develop its IT strategy for the next 5 years. The brief was to help generate ideas for what might be required to inform a five year strategy but we were also asked to think about what university IT services might be like in ten years time. I think about four or five focus groups were facilitated by an external consultant. They covered all aspects of IT in the university from teaching and learning to administration. As I am notionally responsible for the technical ownership of enterprise wide teaching and learning systems and research systems at my university I was invited to the focus group on teaching and learning and the focus group on research. Continue reading
I’ve been working on educational technology strategy and implementation for what feels like as long as I can remember but one thing I have always intended to do was to develop a visualisation of educational technologies in the form of a ‘map’. There are a number of such maps around already. Some of these are very good but they were never quite what I wanted. Specifically they focussed on the product rather than the tool or technology. So you would get a map that nearly always showed the LMS/VLE product at the centre with an eportfolio, some streaming media and some other technologies around the edge. I wanted something that showed the tools but also showed where they fitted in the landscape. Whether they were learning tools or management tools and whether the tools were focussed on the student or the staff member etc. I also wanted to get away from the LMS being at the centre of the tool map becuase the LMS is basically a collection of tools in one product that combine some management and some educational functionality. This isn’t because I am against the LMS as a concept but because I wanted to show that there are alternatives and that not everything needs to fit within an LMS. Continue reading
For a long time I have been interested in organisational innovation. At the the moment that is focussed on the way that higher education and universities specifically can adopt and mainstream innovations in eductaional technicology and changing pedgagogy related to the adoption of new technologies. One barrier to innovation adoption may be related to the size of an organisation. I thought I would start by looking at the size of universities. The data for student enrolment at Australian universities are readily available in spreadsheet format. Being a visual thinker I like to put these into charts. This post doesn’t draw any conclusions it is simply designed as a starting point for a discussion with myself and anyone else who is interested in some the issues that affect innovation and mainstreaming of educational technologies. I’m also making these charts available for anyone that wants them. All of the data is in the public domain and links to them are included. Continue reading
Or what keeps an educational technology manager up at night.
I’m in the process of developing a roadmap for the future of educational technology at my institution so that we can plan for the next 3, 5 and 10 year periods. As you might expect this is reasonably challenging but it is also quite an enjoyable activity. I would expect the next ten years to be an exceptionally interesting time to be working in IT in higher education. Continue reading
I have been reading Professor Martin Weller’s very interesting recent blog posts about academic reputation and online engagement. He raises interesting questions about the nature of scholarly activity, the factors that have traditionally lead to recognition and promotion and whether or not these are changing in an increasingly socially networked world.