Comments to date on Managing Technology to Transform Teaching
ZML Didaktic (Austria): Good set of notes of the webinar and a few comments
Death by Structure Very interesting posting by Viplav Baxi with very thoughtful comments.
Umair comments on the need to change the classroom model.
x28′s new blog directly addresses one of the key questions for this week: can change come from within?
Multilitteratus incognitus discusses participation in MOOCs – not directly relevant to the managing technology topic, but I’ll be responding to this later
Paul Prinsloo in a deeply thoughtful posting discusses the ‘enhance’ vs ‘transform’ issue, arguing that even though there are still benefits in using technology to enhance teaching and learning, in fact in the end technology will transform it.
Squire Morley has excellent notes from the webinar and an interesting discussion
Jenny Mackness in Jenny Connected asks ‘Is our education system in crisis?’ and discusses the issue of whether change can come from within or without.
Jeffrey Keefer’s Silence and Voice wonders why there has been so little discussion on this topic, a point I will address below.
Jaapsoft in Connective argues that education is about relationships and changes will come from technologies that support relationships
Squire Morely has excellent notes from the webinar and a discussion that includes the issue of costs of technology.
Have I missed other postings? If so, please let me know and I will add them – or please add your comments directly below.
Discussion of the topic
I’m finding it difficult here to separate form from function. The nature of a MOOC clearly influences the form of participation and the nature of the comments.
Not surprisingly, the discussions were less than conclusive on whether change will come from within or from without the institution. In general, those who commented argued that change will come both from within (but slowly) and from without. I particularly liked Paul Prinsloo’s discussion of how technology changes the nature of knowledge, that even using technology to enhance traditional forms of teaching will effect change.
Change from outside
Surprisingly though no-one argued that if digital technologies are to be fully exploited that this is more likely to come from new ways of teaching and new forms of organization that will exist outside the traditional institutional models of schools, colleges and universities (an argument I was expecting from a MOOC organized by Stephen Downes and George Siemens). This also happens to be my view of what is likely to happen.
In other words, innovative teaching that fully exploits new digital technologies and which help develop the core skills and competencies needed in the 21st century will mainly come from outside the formal, public education system (or will be marginalized within the system). The inertia and the barriers to change within the public institutions are just too great, unless they reach a crisis point, by which time it is likely to be too late. This would fit the pattern of disruptive change argued by Christensen (2011).
The full exploitation of digital technology for teaching and learning is likely to come about in two distinct ways. The first will be through the privatization of education. Institutions such as the University of Phoenix do not face the current barriers to change of the public institutions (especially universities), and will move aggressively into providing more modern and more sustainable forms of digital education that will increasingly be attractive to employers and to students.
The second means of change will be through open non-formal offerings, such as MOOCs, open educational resources, and possibly free or low cost new organizations, something along the lines of the University of the People or the Khan Academy, or regrouping of existing public institutions into new structures such as oerU. However, such regrouping will be at the margins of public institutions, not core. The main barriers to these developments are employer acceptance of such forms of education, which I don’t think will last for long, and academic credibility, which I think will be more serious.
Change from within
It is the threat to academic integrity that most concerns me about the failure of traditional institutions to change quickly enough from within. There are many important aspects of academic knowledge that could easily be lost through these new forms of learning and learning organizations, in particular, academic freedom, academic integrity, and a loss of scientific thinking.
This really needs a book to explore fully, but I would be concerned about the likely impact of the privatization of higher education on academic freedom and academic integrity. Academic integrity is more of a challenge to explain, but it is partly related to the quality of thinking and research needed at an advanced academic level, and the need to enforce standards when learners are increasingly demanding entitlement to qualifications, irrespective of performance. I see traditional public universities more likely to insist on these standards for all types of learning.
It would be better then if our current formal, public institutions attempted to change their methods of teaching to take full account of the potential of digital learning, while ensuring academic standards are maintained or enhanced. The full exploitation of digital learning and academic integrity are not contradictory, but without an institutional framework, they could become separated. Critical, evidence-based thinking and argument, scientific methodologies, and authenticated original work that is assessed through the application of high academic standards are more likely to be developed and maintained within an institutional framework, although the form and structure of such a framework may or probably should be very different from what it is now. However, I still struggle to understand how such standards are likely to be developed in an unstructured, entirely open or non-formal system of education, although open and non-formal education are excellent for the purposes of lifelong learning, once academic standards have been established and internalized.
This is a very lengthy way of arguing for change from within, but I don’t think it’s going to happen, and the consequences could be dangerous for the maintenance of of rationale and scientific thinking.
However, I would really appreciate your thoughts on this.
MOOCs and discussion
Related to the issue of the difference between academic and everyday knowledge, I was struck by the nature of discussion in this week of the MOOC. Jeffrey Keefer in his post asked:
Why so little discussion on something seemingly so valuable? Even after talking about this on the live #change11 session (with thousands of people registered and others informally participating),….and even with those finding this through other means,why so little discussion?
It’s a good question. (To be precise, Jeffrey was not just commenting on this MOOC, but on the lack of discussion in general on the web about the book). I tracked 11 comments related to my post in the MOOC. There were about 30 participants in the webinar and an unknown number of downloads of the webinar recording.
There could be all kinds of reasons for the shortage of comments on this week’s topic, but I was more struck by the form in which they occurred. Participants did not comment directly to my post for this week, but within their own blogs. I call this the syndrome of the selfish blogger. We all do this. If we have something interesting to say, we’d rather say it on our own web site than someone else’s (it would be nice though if the post was also copied to the site that originated the topic). I had to go and cull all the comments from the #Change 11 newsletter and from pingbacks to get them into one place, so I could comment on them as a whole.
The advantage of posting comments on the participants’ blogs is that the MOOC reaches a wider audience – all those who follow the blogs of the participants. The traffic on my site did increase by about 30% from Monday to yesterday (an increase of over 200 hits a day), mainly because of the MOOC.
However, no-one commented directly to my post, and up to the time of writing, no-one had taken advantage of the forums on the book site that are directly related to the topics covered this week (even Jeffrey commented on his blog, not to my post, which is somewhat ironic). Thus I failed to generate a conversation or set of conversations around this topic (at least so far, five days into the week). This is different from my experience of using threaded discussion forums in a learning management system, where I’ve been able to generate intense and prolonged conversations around topics. In my view, this is more likely to lead to deeper engagement and hence better learning and certainly a more structured discussion than the very scattered responses in this week of the MOOC.
- Could I have done something that would have resulted in more comments, more discussion and more integration of the discussion in this MOOC?
- Or is the topic itself the problem – just not of interest to most people in this MOOC?
- Or are people just too busy to go beyond the webinar and a short response?
Over to you! (if you’re interested)
Clayton M. Christensen, Michael B. Horn, Louis Caldera, Louis Soares (2011)Disrupting College: How Disruptive Innovation Can Deliver Quality and Affordability to Postsecondary Education Mountain View CA: Innosight Institute