MOOCs & Higher Education’s Two Solitudes

I grew up in Quebec – Canada’s predominantly French-language province. But my neighbourhood was inhabited almost entirely by English speaking families. And my clan – with it’s UK-origins – fit right in. The sharp divide between the French and English in Quebec has faded somewhat since I moved away. But at the time, the divide felt “natural” as these sorts of things often do when we know of no other way. Author Hugh McLennan depicted the divide between Canada’s french and english in his novel Two Solitudes, and although his novel is more than half a century old, the phrase “two solitudes”…

Notes on “Beyond Retrofitting: Innovation in Higher Education”

The distinction between disruptive and sustaining innovations is almost always less clear than theory suggests. Sustaining and disruptive innovations don’t operate in separate realms, untouched by each other. They interact constantly and feed off of each other. Forensic analyses of any disruptive innovation will show that sustaining innovations made it possible. Yes, disruptive inovations are exciting and satisfy our desire for quick changes, but they are one part of a large set of innovations required to improve the value of higher education for our students, faculty and other stakeholders.

DÉJÀ VU ALL OVER AGAIN: MOOCS, COMMERCE AND PROFESSIONAL AUTONOMY

In a recent post, Dr. Lloyd Armstrong writes: “Unfortunately, most of the push-back about using MOOCs so far has been about preserving academic freedom in teaching, and not about benefits to students. Perhaps that will change with time.” I will avoid adding to the barrage of arguments about what MOOCs “mean to higher education” or how it will all unfold. But it’s interesting to note how the quality of the concerns from faculty about loss of autonomy in response to MOOCs resemble those made during the early years of online higher ed. Criticism in the mid and late 1990s defined the issue in…

Technology, Transparency and MOOCs

Summary MOOCs have introduced a greater level of transparency in online higher education. They offer students a chance to evaluate and compare institutions to a degree previously unheard of in higher ed. The focus of the evaluations is, primarily, instructional content and related activities. This focus may create new opportunities for less prestigious institutions to compete. :: Technology’s Unintended Consequences (Strike Again) Before the concept of the MOOCs was adopted by elite universities and became “a thing” in 2012, it had  a decidedly anti-establishment posture.  These courses had a DIY quality. They were created and run by people excited by the possibilities of…

Five Big Issues: Hanover Research

Sometimes the best way to understand what’s going on in higher education, or any field for that matter, is to ask a research firm. Because they work with a range of colleges and universities daily, research firms enjoy a particularly useful view of the landscape. They get to hear what’s keeping academic leaders up at night. Case in point: I recently spoke with Cam Wall, Content Director for Higher Education at Hanover Research (Washington DC). Cam touched on five of the stickier issues – some predictable, others surprising. ROI Institutions are striving to identify new ways to make their programs and operations financially…

Week’s Most Interesting :: 12.27.2012

Hand-picked selections of articles, reports, blog posts and events from the last seven days (or so). :: Learning New Lessons I’ve been in the digital higher education arena long enough to still be shocked when major, mainstream news outlets pay attention to what we’re up to. It seems only yesterday that we were eating at the kids’ table. Last week’s article in the Economist offers the now oft-repeated claim that MOOCs will put some institutions out of business. Excerpt: Top-quality teaching, stringent admissions criteria and impressive qualifications allow the world’s best universities to charge mega-fees: over $50,000 for a year of undergraduate…

Change in Higher Education: An Educator’s Perspective (Interview with Dr. Jesse Martin)

Dr. Jesse Martin is a thought-provoking educator. A Senior Lecturer at Bangor University in Wales, Dr. Martin focusses on the role of evidence-based in university education. Below, Jesse and I exchanged notes about the nature of change in higher education.  * * KCH: You wrote earlier this fall that many of the academics with whom you speak tend to be defensive when discussing the anticipated transformation of higher education; and that they “think that the world will change at their pace.” If this is the case, will learners – and those that fund higher education – wait for them? JM: There is a…

Originally posted on Management & Strategy Issues in DIGITAL HIGHER ED:
Louis Coiffait is Head of Research at the London -based (UK) Pearson Think Tank. Louis and I had a chance to speak recently.   KCH: It’s quite unique to have a think tank directly associated with a private company. From where did the idea for launching a think tank at Pearson come? What are its main objectives? LC: The Pearson Think Tank is certainly pretty unique, if anybody can find a similar example please let us know because we’d love to talk to them! There was no one big bang, rather just a slow…

Alfred Essa: The State of Analytics in Higher Education (Interview)

I’ve known Alfred Essa for a couple of years. From the start, Al struck me as one of those people that is truly focussed on improving higher education. After a career at various organizations in the US, including MIT and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, Essa now serves as the Director of Innovation and Analytics Strategy at Desire2Learn, the Canadian education technology company (which recently accepted an 80 million dollar investment from OMERS).  KCH: I suspect there is still considerable confusion about what the term “analytics” means when applied to higher education. Can you provide your own high-level perspective? AE: Analytics is sometimes characterized misleadingly as “data-driven decision…

Sources of Information on Higher Education

If you are interested in how higher education operates, or are doing research on issues pertaining to higher education, these organizations may be of value: Ithaka S+R The Center for College Affordability and Productivity Education Sector Contact North Survey Reports | The Sloan Consortium NMC Horizon Project | The New Media Consortium EDUCAUSE Library | EDUCAUSE.edu The John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy Publications | HESA Pullias Center for Higher EducationHigher Education at Penn Lumina Foundation Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) JISC : Inspiring innovationLeadership FoundationNexus Research & Policy Center LH Martin Institute HEPI The Delta Cost Project on Postsecondary…