January 20, 2018

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

Comments to date on Managing Technology to Transform Teaching

It’s now Friday, five days into the week, and I’ve tracked the following comments or responses to the webinar and my earlier post on this topic:

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



#Change11: Welcome to week 6: Managing Technology to Transform Teaching

© 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



MOOC: #Change 11- Change: Education, Learning and Technology

George Siemens, Stephen Downes and Dave Cormier have been running this Massive Open Online Course now for five weeks. A MOOC is being facilitated by an ‘innovative thinker, researcher, and scholar’, over 30 in all from 11 different countries. The draft schedule is available here. (This week David Wiley is leading discussion on the history and future directions of open education.)

For those of you unfamiliar with a MOOC, Wikipedia gives a concise description:

A Massive open online course (MOOC) is a course where the participants are distributed and course materials also are dispersed across the web. This is possible only if the course is open, and works significantly better if the course is large. The course is not a gathering, but rather a way of connecting distributed instructors and learners across a common topic or field of discourse. …..Typically, participation in a MOOC is free…. Although the courses generally do not have specific requirements all MOOCs provide rough timelines in the form of weekly topics to focus discussion. The rest of the structure can be minimal – often consisting of a weekly presentation on the current topic, discussion questions, and suggested resources. In recognition that those attending a MOOC are expected to make the course their own, guidance tends to focus on allowing curriculum and structure to emerge from the exchange between participants. Posting in discussions, reflecting on topical ideas, and sharing resources using a variety of social media are at the core of the MOOC learning process.

It’s my week starting on Monday, although I plan to do a webinar at 3.00 pm EST, 8.00 pm GMT, on Sunday (16 October) as I’m travelling on the Monday. Details of how to connect to the webinar will be posted here shortly when I have the information.

The 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?

I will be using this web site for posts on this topic, and also the web site for the book ‘Managing Technology in Higher Education’ at http://batesandsangra for additional learning materials and a large number of discussion forums, so the MOOC will be the main topic for this site until October 23, although there will be some other posts as well.

If you wish to follow this MOOC and are not registered yet, its free, but please register here.

More details are coming in another post, but in the meantime I cordially invite all of you to join me in this interesting experiment.