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Computers are no substitute for good teachers . . .
Or, a more adept phrase might be – what I’m thinking about as I prepare for EDUCAUSE next week. When reviewing the conference program, one can’t help but be struck by the degree to which the agenda is dominated by topics covering the (potential) impacts of technology on learning. I’m pretty sure that many attendees would agree with the statement that technology itself is no panacea for the present challenges of higher education – equality of access, adequate preparation of incoming students, escalating costs, and graduate preparedness. When thinking of these challenges, my mind harkens back to my own higher education – an experience where good teachers were absolutely critical in providing me with support and mentoring, and that experience was a very big part of putting me on a path of lifelong learning.
Ben or Larry?
Over the past few weeks I have been reading news reports discussing potential candidates to replace Ben Bernanke, the retiring chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve. One leading candidate, Larry Summers - a former U.S. Treasury Secretary and president of Harvard, is well known for being polarizing and sometimes abrasive. Summers has his fair share of supporters and detractors alike. What I have found interesting is the discussion of Bernanke’s leadership style and the contrast with that of his would be successor.
Clayton Christensen: The Real Disruption for Higher Education
I found today, following a Tweet from my good friend Stephen Landry (@landryst), one of the more concise and powerful explanations from Clayton Christensen regarding the present challenges for higher education. These challenges have more to do with basic economic principles than disruptions posed by technology or the Internet.
Historically there has never been competition on the basis of price. Colleges would compete by adding professors, enhancing programmes or building nicer facilities. So they competed by making institutions better. This initiates retribution [from other colleges] which make things better and better. And every step adds cost. So the cost of higher education has increased faster than healthcare. And there just isn't any more space in the budget to do this. So this year you are seeing, in a fixed cost environment, that colleges need to fill all their spaces.
Randy Pausch's Boldest Innovation
A central concern with MOOCs and other student directed learning experiences is that by decentering the traditional gatekeeping role of teachers, such experiences lack an authoritative center for determining the rigor and depth of a course as well judging the mastery of learning outcomes by students. In a traditional one-to-many style of pedagogy, teachers simultaneously perform the roles of content creator, disseminator, and arbitrator of student success. The basis for academic rigor is based on structures such as the credit hour – students meet for three hours a week, complete three hours of homework between meetings, and repeat this cycle for 15 weeks.
Why MOOCs are like Farmville, Part II
On January 18th, I laid out my concerns with Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs), understanding their rapid ascent within the confines of Gartner’s Hype Cycle. In doing so, my purpose was to suggest that the true innovations posed by MOOCs will be much different than what is commonly presumed.
Three Vexing Problems and their Common Origin
Walk around any institution of higher education, even those well known for effective delivery and use of information technology, and you will find the following to some degree or another.
The 'Sage on the Stage' and the End of the Classroom Lecture
I remain a traditionalist, a traditionalist in the sense that I believe the most important relationship on any college campus – the one with greatest potential to impact students in a positive way – is the relationship between students and faculty. I also believe that, at its core, this relationship has to be about the processes of discovery and innovation. There is nothing more impactful on students than faculty who conduct research in the lab, in the field, or in the library, and who then bring their innovations into the classroom each day.
Why MOOCs are like Farmville
Another day, another report from one of the thought leaders on higher education. This time it is from Moody’s, which proclaims the death of the traditional model of higher education. While the concerns raised by Moody’s are real – diminished resources due to state budget cuts, declining family incomes, and less willingness by students to take on debt – we should hesitate before leaping to the conclusion that these challenges necessitate a radical change, through massive adoption of online learning technologies such as MOOCs. Count me among the skeptical – I’m not yet convinced that MOOCs are going to lead students to jettison a traditional higher education experience anytime soon.
My Report Card for 2012
A year ago, I set out my resolutions for 2012. Here’s my report card.
What I said I would do: Write more. Use both blogging and twitter as a part of my overall leadership and communication strategy for the IT organization I lead at the University of Georgia.
What actually happened: My performance was inconsistent; sometimes I would write a new blog each week and tweet daily, but in some months – not much happened at all. Earlier in the year, I was asked to start contributing my blog The Accidental CIO as a part of EDUCAUSE Review Online, which is a great platform and opportunity to spread some of my ideas. Over the next year, there is an opportunity to contribute more. My grade: C+
Why I’m Looking Forward to EDUCAUSE Next Week
Next week is the annual EDUCAUSE conference, with this year’s event returning to the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver. Attending the annual EDUCAUSE event remains one of the highlights of my fall semester. Here are some of the things I am looking forward to next week.