Rubbing the MOOC sore spot or How to Crowdsource a Strategic Plan for Ed Tech
As part of our evergreen strategic planning process, we consult widely with others in the field of educational technology. We've reached out to our international partners to get their take on the challenges and opportunities facing ed tech. The following is recent correspondence between BCcampus' David Porter, David Kerhohan and Sheila MacNeil (both from JISC, a UK ed tech organization). We thought the conversation was so insightful and relevant, we wanted to share it with everyone. David and Sheila have given their permission for this exchange to be made public.
17 Jan 2013
Hi David and Sheila.
Greetings for 2013.
We're ramping up our BCcampus strategic plan "refresher version" for
2013-2016, and are in the environmental scan, data collection stage.
Wanted to ask you for some guidance re. your 2013+ outlook and key
signposts for higher education in educational technology space.
What's captivating or worrying you and your colleagues in the UK as you
look ahead? I know DavidK has been critical of the MOOC hysteria, but
in the same vein as Tony Bates has written recently, I'm not sure it's
going far down into the trough of disillusionment any time soon. What
If you have a moment, please ping me back with one or two thoughts going
forward. All contributions will be cited as "personal communications
22 Jan 2013 (reply from Sheila MacNeill)
I've had a quick chat with some of my CETIS colleagues and the things
below are the common ones between us.
MOOCs - 2013/14 very interesting times for MOOCs as they become more
mainstream. In the UK we await to see what FutureLearn
will bring to the party. Will it simply be
the UK equivalent to Coursera etc offering their pretty standard
distance learning delivery model, or will it actually try and be more
diverse? How will it survive commercially? How long will institutions be
willing to finance it without getting some payback - and indeed what
will that pay back be? Cash or increased student numbers? (I've just
written a slightly lighthearted view of taking part in a mooc
I'm also reflecting on my mooc-ing
experiences this year on my blog so do check in it to see my take on
things - particularly from the learner point of view.
OER/Open education will become increasingly more mainstream, however
this implies that at the institutional level more serious consideration
of licensing of teaching material and use of open licences such as
CC [Creative Commons] is needed.
Ebooks/etextbooks are moving up the agenda again. The emphasis in the UK
(and the rest of Europe) is not as much on cost as in North America,
but that is a factor. The main issues seem to be around the "age old"
questions of how to best incorporate features personalisation, dynamic
content, formative assessments, adaptive pathways, learning (analytics)
and learner (paradata) data. Interoperability and standards all come into
focus. We've been grappling with these issues in elearning (and learning
in general) for a long time. It seems though now the standards agenda is
being driven by the learning agenda. (Good post on recent EU ebooks
meeting by my colleague Phil Barker.
In the research domain, but research management and research data
management seems ready for disruption - on the one hand, clunky
old-school metadata standards (CERIF), esoteric systems and homebrew
code; on the other, policies mandating institutions to open up research
data are on the horizon. Key challenges here are legacy systems, lack of
interoperability and standards, and a history of research depts doing
things their "own way".
The use of analytics (including but not confined to learning analytics)
will become more common place. More examples of good practice will
start to emerge, particularly around assessment. And at the
institutional level, smart senior management will be ensuring that they
"get the best" out of the time involved in collecting statutory data by
enhancing it with their own data sets to differentiate themselves from
their competitors. Issues around data collection, management, legal
rights and ethics will come to the fore. Questions of data ownership
will need serious consideration at personal, institutional and national
levels. CETIS has produced a series of papers on analytics in education
which might be of interest to you. The overview paper
"Analytics, what is changing and why does it matter?" gives an
overview to the series.
"The cloud" and outsourcing will be increasingly on peoples' mind.
CIOs/IS Managers will be increasingly concerned with deciding which
areas of technology should be seen as commodities and those which should
be considered as strategic investments. While the rush to put everything
"in the cloud" is notable, what's more notable is what doesn't migrate -
what do institutions see as technologies over which they want to retain
control or develop in-house competence?
3-D printing is really making in roads and again we could see it hitting
education in the next 2years. There's already lots of examples of how it
is being used in collaboration with industry e.g. ceramic researchers
working with Wedgewood to create rapid prototypes of new designs. As the
costs of printers come down the educational possibilities are endless.
Hope this helps, and if possible would love to see a copy of your plan
when it's done.
I should add these views came from me, Scott Wilson, Phil Barker and Lorna Campbell.
22 Jan 2013 (reply from David Kernohan)
Hi David - I started off writing you a blog post but it went in completely
the wrong direction... you might enjoy it anyway.
I agree with all of Sheila's suggestions ...
For me I imagine 2013 would be primarily concerned with a MOOC backlash -
I'm still concerned that there are no viable business models and for all
the talk of disruption they are reliant on the continued existence of the
existing structures. The backlash might well toxify online and open
learning more generally - I've noted that a couple of the more innovative
open courses (ds106 in the US, phonar in the UK) are distancing themselves
from MOOC language already. I could see more people going for "it's not a
MOOC..." as a justification. Not good news for the concept.
Sheila mentions big data - I'm concerned about the comparative lack of
attention paid to using big data to make good decisions. As usual, CETIS
are miles ahead here and I'd recommend the links that Sheila suggests too.
Pedagogy-wise, clearly the student as active participant is becoming a
conference standard, despite (or possibly because of) the fact it plays
against the dominant student as consumer narrative. The work on "student
as producer" that Mike Neary and Joss Winn have been doing at Lincoln
University is very interesting here, I'm hearing "student as
creator/co-creator" language a lot too so I'd been wondering if we'd see a
greater emphasis in creativity in assessment strategies.
Linked to this - someone is going to notice that AI in assessment is
pretty much entirely hype and misdirection. That's going to cause trouble.
And I want to highlight open academic practice too - by intelligent use of
traditional and social media we will see a lot more academics that are
"bigger" brands than their host organisations. How will the organisations
manage and benefit from this phenomenon?
Again I'd love a copy of the paper when you get it together.
22 January, 2013 (reply from Sheila McNeill)
And of course, there is always a "one last thing" -everything is underpinned by the growing recognition of the need to develop digital literacy not just in the sector but beyond. For us to make any sense of "all this stuff" we need to ensure our staff and students are continually developing both the technical and meta-cognitive capabilities needed.
What about you? What's captivating or worrying you and your colleagues in higher education in educational technology space?
Tag cloud image on the front page courtesy of the Open Learning Design Studio MOOC and re-used under Creative Commons license.
Update Feb 5, 2013: this post has been changed from the original. The following line was added to Sheila McNeill's first message at her request: "I should add these views came from me, Scott Wilson, Phil Barker and Lorna Campbell."