Posted on March 10, 2013 by jeremy
Amid all the hoo-har about MOOCs and the will-they won’t-they debate over their impact on university business models, a piece by Tom Friedman caught my eye the other day on the rise of the ‘celebrity professor’. The stimulus for the Friedman article was a conference he attended last week hosted by Harvard University and MIT where academics and administrators from these two elite US universities discussed the rise of online courses and the ramifications for residential colleges and universities. One outcome, as Inside Higher Ed reports, is that MOOCs are certainly prompting some faculty to pay more attention to their teaching styles than they ever have before.
Friedman notes that not every academic is likely to generate a rock-star following following their entry into MOOCdom, but he issues a grave warning to the rest us mere mortal when he states:
‘The world of MOOCs is creating a competition that will force every professor to improve his or her pedagogy or face an online competitor … When outstanding becomes so easily available, average is over.’
This is why MOOCs matter. I presented at a conference a couple of weeks ago, and I was asked for my advice by a member of the audience on how she might go about dealing with a group of recalcitrant academics in her department who are steadfastly refusing to do anything online. My response was that, pretty soon, it may not be a decision that they get to make. As Friedman notes in his article, Harvard Business School no longer teaches entry-level accounting because there is a professor at Brigham Young University whose online accounting course is so good that Harvard students use that instead.
Filed under: Exemplary practice, Flexible delivery, Online learning | Tagged: disruptive innovation, Harvard, MIT, MOOC, MOOCs, online education, technology, Tom Friedman, universities | Leave a Comment »
Posted on February 20, 2013 by jeremy
This slide deck I presented at a senior leadership conference at Griffith University last week.
The essence of my argument is that the higher education sector is entering a perfect storm with the problems of student indebtedness, budget deficits and graduate unemployment looming large, combining with the disruptive innovation from the non-university private sector providing what appear to be viable alternatives to a traditional university education.
The solution, I believe, is to ‘mainstream the disruption’. To sit back and continue with business as usual would be a courageous decision (to borrow from Sir Humphrey Appleby).
Filed under: Flexible delivery, Online learning | Tagged: digital literacy, disruptive innovation, ICTs, learner centric, MOOC, MOOCs, online education, participatory pedagogy, student engagement, technology, universities, web 2.0 | Leave a Comment »
Posted on January 31, 2013 by jeremy
There was a star-studded round table session at the World Economic Forum at Davos last week entitled ‘RevolutiOnline.edu: Online Education Changing the World’. The session was moderated by Thomas Friedman, and the speakers included Larry Summers (former Harvard President), Bill Gates, Peter Theil (Founder’s Fund), Rafael Reif (MIT President), Sebastian Thrun (Udacity), Daphne Koller (Coursera), and a 12-year-old Pakistani girl who has been taking MOOCs.
The video recording runs for 68 minutes which is longer than the average attention span these days, but it is pretty compelling viewing.
Highlights for me included:
- the whole of Friedman’s interview with 12-year old Khadijah Niazi, which illustrated quite vividly how revolutionary and far-reaching the open education movement can be (the first 15 minutes or so);
- the Larry Summer’s quote (borrowed from Rudi Dornbusch) that “things take longer to happen than you think they will, and then they happen faster than you think they could” (applied to online learning) (24:30);
- the comments from Peter Theil about why students are not getting value for money in education and how this is serving to drive the disruption in the higher education space (from 30:33 to 35:00); and
- the remarks made by Bill Gates about peer-to-peer interaction and why online learning is working now when it hasn’t in the past (40:50), and the question of the ‘credential’ (41:45 to 42:05) and how, in the past, it was where you went and how long you spent there, compared with now where it is about proof you have the knowledge, independent of how you acquired it.
The comments made by Theil and Gates have consequences for all universities. Put simply, the economics of higher education has changed, and as a recent Moody’s report highlights, not even the Ivy League is safe. The business model has to change, and those that refuse (or are slow) to change may find themselves out of business.
Filed under: Flexible delivery, Online learning | Tagged: Bill Gates, conferences, Daphne Koller, Davos, Larry Summers, MOOC, online education, Sebastian Thrun, student engagement, universities, World Economic Forum | Leave a Comment »