#CCK11 Openness in Higher Education

I enjoyed reading this Revolutions in higher education: how many dimensions of openness? by Sir John Daniel, which was referred by Stephen Downes (see his post too).

Here Sir John highlights:

Openness and inclusivity on one hand and hierarchy and restrictions on the other.

The three findings by Tony Bates:

– Rapid growth of eLearning

– Institutional goals for eLearning short on ambition

– For profits are better placed to expand online because they do not have to worry about resistance from academic staff, nor about exploiting their earlier investment in campus facilities.

Will higher education split over the coming years into a public sector focused on research and a for-profit sector doing most of the teaching?  And if so, does it matter?

Some governments would like to see higher education divide itself into research universities and teaching institutions. Extrapolating the trends we have identified suggests that their wish may come true, with the added difference that most research will take place in publicly-supported institutions while most teaching will be done by for-profit enterprises.

These dimensions of openness: open admissions; distance learning at scale, and open curricula remained the principal expressions of openness for the next thirty years.

My reflections: There is already a trend in adopting eLearning at various levels in Higher and Further Education, but that the current rapid and exponential growth in technology has accelerated the needs of developing open education and learning in response to those changes.

Back in more than three decades where I first tried the Bachelor of Science in Mathematics (an External degree) by distance education, the only resource provided was the list of text provided by the University.  The only fees involved in the Degree study was the examination.  Surely, the standard of the Bachelor degree was equivalent to that awarded internally.

So, what makes the difference from that of the award of the degree today?   The main difference lies with the abundant resources available in the internet and OER, many open online courses (such as the MOOCs – PLENK2010CCK11Groom’s DS106 to the upcoming MobiMooc), the support from the institutions including mentoring, peer-learning, and accreditation, and the ubiquitous networks (educational, social and informal)  available that might be exploited to support the study.  Besides,  there are often real and virtual communities around us that could add considerable value to individuals whilst studying in formal courses.

Openness could open windows of opportunities for institutions to respond to the demands of study and development of tens of millions of learners around the globe.  However, there is also a significant impact on Higher Education due to the disruptive technology.

What could we learn from such disruptive technology?

[PDF] from psu.edu R Smith – … Simulation: Applications, Methodology, Technology, 2006 – dms.sagepub.com

When disruptive technologies enter a market, they offer a value proposition that is impossible to dismiss.  Customers move to the new solutions and change the balance of the industry.  Market forces do not operate to maintain the dominance of existing players; rather they move to meet the needs of the maximum number of customers. Disruptive changes are afoot in our industry and will continue.  Companies, researchers, system developers, and service providers can choose to ride the wave or fight the wave, but they cannot dissipate the force of the wave of change that is occurring.

So, would we be in the midst of this huge tsunami of change where we would need to ride on, rather than fighting against?  That is the complexity arising from the mix and interaction of openness in education and learning, disruptive technology and the internet, and the people and society that are engaged in formal and informal education and learning.

Photo: From Wall Paper