© Tony Bates, 2011 - Creative Commons license


Welcome to week 6 of this Massive Open Online Course organized by George Siemens, Stephen Downes and Dave Cormier.

If you want to participate but haven’t registered with #Change11, please do so now by clicking here. It’s free!

This week’s topic

This week’s topic is Managing technology to transform teaching and looks at how university and college management can bring about changes to transform the institution. A key theme of the discussions will be: Can change come from within, or do we need to re-invent new forms of higher education that are de-institutionalized?

Why this topic?

New technologies will transform and are transforming post-secondary education in many different ways. Some argue that they will lead to the dismantling of universities and colleges as we know them.

However, it is my view that universities and colleges will be with us for some time into the future. There is always likely to be a need for guidance, structure and assessment of learning, and many learners will look to established institutions for such support, and for ways to validate what they have learned.

At the same time, it is also my view that universities and colleges need to change dramatically if they are to meet the future needs of learners, and in particular if they are to fully reap the benefits of technology for teaching and learning.

The issue

The issue then becomes: what changes are needed and why? And how best can these changes be facilitated and by whom? This is the topic I wish to facilitate in this MOOC.

Many university and college leaders recognize the growing importance of learning technologies, yet institutions are still extremely conservative in their actual use. Although there is a great deal of small scale innovation taking place, the basic structure of teaching, based on full-time campus attendance and face-to-face classroom teaching, is still the predominant paradigm. Online distance education is growing but still constitutes less than 15% of all enrollments in North America. In any case, the future is not likely to be sharply divided into classroom and distance education, but will combine a rich mixture of digital and face-to-face learning.

If institutional leaders – and many faculty – see the need for change, why is it so slow in coming? What could be done to speed up the changes? What strategies and actions could be taken to support innovation in teaching, better use of technology, and better learning at the same or lower cost? These are some of the topics I would like to discuss during this week of the MOOC. I’m very much looking forwarding to participating in this MOOC with you all.

How will this week of the MOOC work?

I plan to do this by drawing on a recent book I have co-authored with Albert Sangra, of the Open University of Catalonia, Spain. It is based on the strategic plans for technology for 36 universities around the world, and on 11 more in-depth case studies. By comparing the strategies used by institutions for supporting the use of technology for teaching and learning with the extent of technology use for teaching within these institutions, we were able to identify best practices leading to technology integration in teaching and learning. I will use this to provide some content to discuss in this MOOC, but I also am looking to participants to add their knowledge and ideas. The goal is to suggest ways to speed up the transformation of the post-secondary institution to a more modern, more effective, digitally-based organization that will better meet the needs of 21st century learners.

The structure of this week will be as follows:

1. A 60 minute webinarwhich lays out the main findings from the book. An audio recording of the webinar on Sunday is now available: MP3 Audio recording

When: Sunday, October 16. This webinar will be at 12.00 noon PST, 3.00 pm Eastern standard time, 8.00 pm GMT.

For copies of the slides in pdf format, click here

2. Posts on this web site (look for #Change 11 in the title of the post, in the RSS feed). Please use the comment box for discussion or questions about the postings.

3. Follow-up activities using the book web site: http://batesandsangra.ca, which includes extracts from the book, scenarios, and discussion topics.

4. Asynchronous online discussion, using the forums in the batesandsangra web site.

5. A wrap-up posting on Sunday, 23 October, at this web site.

Do I need to buy the book?

 You do not need to buy the book to participate in this MOOC session, but it would obviously help. Jossey-Bass, the publisher, sells it as an e-book at US$37 a copy and  Amazon will deliver a hardback copy at around C$40 within two or three days.

Suggestions for reading

Bates, A. and Sangrà, A. (2011) Managing Technology in Higher Education: Strategies for Transforming Teaching and Learning San Francisco: Jossey-Bass/John Wiley & Co.

There aren’t many other books that deal with this topic. The nearest/most convenient and also most relevant is:

Davidson, C and Goldberg, D. (2010) The Future of Thinking: Learning Institutions in a Digital Age Chicago: The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (freely downloadable)

In particular, read Chapter 5: Institutions as Mobilizing Networks. For lots of reasons why change in universities is difficult, see Chapter 4: FLIDA 101: A Pedagogical Allegory. See also my review of this book.

Katz, R. et al. (2008) The Tower and the Cloud: Higher Education in the Age of Cloud Computing Boulder CO: EDUCAUSE – again, available for free downloading. This book deals with some of the technical issues around technology management in the age of cloud computing.

A good book that lays out why universities and colleges need to change their approach to teaching (even though its focus is mainly on the k-12 system) is:

Gilbert, J. (2005) Catching the Knowledge Wave: the Knowledge Society and the Future of Education Wellington, NZ: New Zealand Council for Educational Research

Ehlers, U-D. and Schneckenberg, D. (eds. ) (2010) Changing Cultures in Higher Education: Moving Ahead to Future LearningHeidelberg/London/New York: Springer, 610 pp, US$129.00. Note the price. If your library has a copy though it is well worth reading.

Next steps

These are just suggestions. There’s a lot of material here already but here’s a suggested ‘action plan’ for you:

1.Participate in the webinar on Sunday if you can.

2. In any case, download the slides from the webinar.

3. Post any comments or questions you have on the webinar or slides as comments to this post or one of the others on this site with the #Change 11 tag.

3. Go to batesandsangra.ca and browse through the site. Read in particular the executive summary and go to the list of contents and click on each chapter to get a summary.

4. Also read some of the scenarios.

5. Go to the forums on batesandsangra.ca and pick a topic. If a topic is heavy with contributions, go to another – there’s lots of discussion questions.

6. Look out for further posts on this site during the week and use the comment box to respond.

The next post will follow on from the webinar. I look forward to your comments, both on this web site and at http://batesandsangra.ca.

Have fun and I’m really looking forward to discussing this issue with you all.

Later posts and comments

To follow up on later posts and comments from participants on this topic, go to:

#Change 11: Week 6 Managing Technology: the discussion so far


#Change 11: Week 6: Managing Technology: final thoughts and closing




  1. Some posts on this week of the MOOC culled from the web:

    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 on the key questions for this week: can change come from within?

    Multilitteratus incognitus discusses particiption in MOOCs – not directly relevant to the manging 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 (the answer is both, but with some qualifications).

    Jeffrey Keefer’s Silence and Voice wonders why there has been so little discussion on this topic, I point I will address on a separate post.

    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.


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