In a good education system, students move through school, graduate, and somewhere between 30 and 50% complete university. Formal training is complete, education is finished. People who were once students could relax and enjoy the benefits of the skills and networks they had developed through learning, and any decline in their skills would be offset by gains in experience and compensated for by the new generation of graduates coming through the education pipeline. This was an education system which was quite effective until the 21st century where we live in a more globalized and interconnected world.
Now, globalisation, accelerating technological change and massive demographic shifts demand a change in education systems: its purpose, where it happens, when it happens, how it happens. Since new technologies are appearing at such a fast pace, formal education in the first 20 years of life will only form a foundation for future learning. Lifelong learning will become a necessity, not a nice-to-have. And as the world shrinks, people in India or china or eastern Europe are competing with those in Indiana for jobs and those in Copenhagen collaborate with those in Cape Town. It is no longer good enough to be second best: everyone needs 21st century skills – not just better skills, but different skills.
To respond to this socio-economic shift, our education systems need to change. Curricula and pedagogy must focus on building skills for life and instilling a love for learning. We need to think about new ways of organising learning so that those who are currently excluded by geography, poverty or learning style have a real chance. Schools, colleges and universities need to open their doors, and become accessible centres of learning throughout life. And new partners, from the private sector to non-profits, to foundations need to become part of a wider coalition to deliver learning and drive continuous innovation and improvement.
Without these changes, we risk a difficult future: weaker economies, fragmented societies, unhappy people. Incremental reform is no longer enough – we must jointly take on the task of becoming a learning society.
Director, Cisco Global Education
Tags: 21st century learning environment, brain drain, cost-savings, distance, education, generation, higher education, learning, next generation learning
One of the things I like best about Fall is the Educause show, a time for us to take a pause in our busy lives and learn about the best thinking in how technology applies to higher education. It also gives us a chance to connect with one another and share ideas about how to effectively prepare students for the future and increase access to quality education. This year, these topics are especially important as together, we face one of the most troubling economic environments that we’ve ever encountered as a nation and global community.
What we know is that we need to think differently to address the challenges in front of us. We need to think differently to develop a range of options. The Educause tagline, “In Challenging Times, We Need Options,” could never be more accurate or true than it is today. Not only do higher education institutions need options in terms of how to deliver quality education, but students need options to get the very best education possible.
Technology plays a critical role in providing students with options, and Cisco delivers many of these technologies to the higher education market. Interacting with technology not only helps students to prepare for careers that are increasingly technology-dependent, but it also gives them better access to education. High-definition, life-like TelePresence solutions provide access to students in remote locations, and these solutions also allow universities to access experts from across the globe. Wireless technologies engage students in the learning process with wireless response systems and anytime, anywhere access to information. Collaborative learning solutions, such as WebEx, support online learning, offer virtual group work, and enable interactive learning experiences. And advanced video technologies create media-rich, connected learning environments that engage the “now” generation in the learning process.
We welcome the opportunity to connect with you at Educause. Please visit us at booth 322 to see a number of our demonstrations for higher education, including TelePresence, Campus Safety, Digital Media, and more. And, enter for a chance to win a new Flip Ultra II HD Video camera from Cisco to capture the spirit of Educause. We look forward to seeing you there.
Tags: education, educause, expanding access, higher, higher education, next generation learning, options, preparing the workforce, technology
What makes a university great? In 2002 MIT decided that it was not the educational resources they shared with their students with, but the quality of interactions between students and their teachers, so made a foray into distance education by starting to put their course materials online so as to provide access to quality educational materials for anyone who wanted to access them. This was the beginning of the Open Educational Resources (OER)movement. At the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunis in 2005 an initiative was launched in a partnership between the Development Gateway Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to connect anyone with Internet access and the desire to learn to a world of free, high-quality open educational materials. The Development Gateway Foundation’s “Open Educational Resources” portal aimed to equalize access to education and help people in developing countries improve their chances for a better life. OER are now available from a multitude of universities across the world and, with the introduction of iTunesU, there are no shortage of materials in a range of multi-modal formats available on almost any academic subject you care to choose.
Cisco has also supported a number of open educational resources through the Cisco Networking Academy, in which all its content is made freely available to registered Academies across the world, and through some of its social investments in education including hairdressing resources for Africa and the global programme, Teachers without Borders.
For developing countries the opportunity to obtain free, quality resources can only be beneficial, but if it is the collaboration and instruction on such resources that provides the maximum value, then universities and other educational institutions accessing OER need to ensure that they are able to support students effectively. Additionally such resources may need customisation and localisation, as the style and mode in which they are presented may not be appropriate to another culture. Infrastructure constraints and insufficient bandwidth may also need to be addressed so that media-rich content can be streamed and stored.
There are additional tensions around the provision of OER as overseas students are lucrative sources of funds for universities. Why would universities in the developed world help those universities in the developing world by providing support for improving teaching quality and help those universities to become more proficient and economically viable through dual-teaching and mentoring using OER? Why would they help find opportunities to keep the brightest brains in country to teach the next generation? Why would they encourage students to study overseas and risk perpetuating the brain drain which is hitting continents like Africa particularly hard?
If OER is to benefit those less fortunate or unable to benefit from an education at the leading universities of the world, then there needs to be a willingness to support developing world universities, access to all resources needs to be affordable, and adaptation of OER may often need to be undertaken to make sure that:
resources are culturally, pedagogically and technologically aligned
the language of instruction is appropriate
assessment models associated with OER are robust
links are made with books and other media
OER resources are accessible on low cost and low power access devices
there is an ability to partnering with radio and TV stations for either podcasting, broadcasting or both
With the multitude of collaboration tools available today, an effective way for universities across the world to work together will emerge which will result in a win-win situation for all.
Tags: brain drain, higher education, oer
Universities have traditionally been measured on the quantity and quality of research funding and research outputs as one of the main factors of institutional success. It is one measure used to rank universities both nationally and internationally and is used more than any other measure to attract both students and faculty. But is the way research effectiveness perceived about to change? The internet and web 2.0 have made collaboration easier and easier. Hours of library research have been reduced through not only sophisticated search engines and online journals and e-books, but access to blogs of leading academics, researchers and research students, and to tools such as Twitter, Del.icio.us and wikis.
In published research papers, arguments are based on the evidence of research data of which much is invisible, or evidenced through carefully selected quotations or the results of experiments. With the ability to store video and audio electronically as well as numerical and textual data, research publications will become increasingly multi-modal; and data-sets will be made easily accessible so that research results can be opened to greater public scrutiny as well as re-use by others.
Perhaps, as collaboration is made easier and facilitated between and across institutions sole authorship will become a thing of the past as academics work together on research questions, sharing data sets and interpreting them in new ways according to their research questions, their academic domain and their cultural experience. Researchers will post their research data in multiple formats onto collaboration web sites so others can take them down, re-interpret them together and add to the global pool of knowledge
Peer review and referred publications will be replaced by peer argument and co-creation and co-development of theory which means research council funding will need to be based on new criteria
This scenario is perhaps not too futuristic as the tools that make it possible are available now. So what will academic expertise mean in a web 2.0 world and how will academic rigour be judged? What will the criteria be for acceptance as contribution to research, and how will universities be judged on their scholarly output? And finally, what will be counted as authoritative research evidence and who will it belong to?
Tags: collaboration, higher education, peer review, research, web 2.0