tisdag 25 januari 2011

Future trends in higher education

The text below is an excerpt from a lecture for university staff on net-based learning. Here I have picked some paragraphs treating what in my view might be future changes.

It is obvious that we will use ICT whether we like it or not in higher education and most university staff already do in one way or another. We are probably already mixing modes (net and campus). However, this might still be quite traditional education. In the future we are likely to utilize the affordances of new media in ways that will take education into new and still uncharted territories.

Today open has become a keyword on the net. We have OER, OA, and even OCW. Still I think that most university staff feel somewhat uncomfortable with these trends. We may still want to keep our PowerPoints to ourselves and publish our creations behind copyright restrictions.

To give an example of what the future might entail and what we might engage with (or being forced to) in the future, I will tell you about a MOOC. Last autumn I subscribed to a MOOC, a massive open online course. The idea of such a course is that it is open to anyone interested, which means it can have thousands of participants.

Connecting resources
All course resources, texts, videos and presentations are freely available on the net and you are free to decide how much you want to participate in the course, if you want to contribute to the discussions or remain a lurker.

The theoretical foundation for such a course is connectivism, a theory that posits that knowledge is so complex that it is always distributed or stretched across multiple sources and persons and therefore it is more important who you know than what you know. By participating in the course you will be introduced to sources of information and the skills of how to make use of these. The ability to connect to sources of information will turn out to be the most valuable result of the course. It is not unlike knowledge building in any research groups or among scholars in general.

How is it possible to get a structure in this mess?
First of all we must learn to let go; we cannot survey everthing. The course management makes some structuring efforts by providing the course theme, suggesting weekly themes and readings and automatically aggregating participant contributions. By the time, you will probably find people who discuss themes in which you are more interested and thus you concentrate on these instead of trying to keep everything in focus which of course is impossible.

Directing personal attention to some theme of interest and collecting resources in order to create meaningful knowledge is sometimes described as building one's personal learning environment (PLE). With the aid of other's contributions and various resources on the net you remix or repurpose what is out there to something that makes sense to you. It can take the form of texts, bookmarks, tweets, wikis, or blogs. By sharing what you create, on the internet, you keep the process going so that others can build on your ideas.

Last autumn I tried to explore the ideas presented in a MOOC called PLENK2010, personal learning environments networks and knowledge, and this is what came out of it for me:

During fall 2010 I started a blog (http://netinhe.blogspot.com) and created a Twitter account (http://twitter.com/gulejon). Till now (January 2011) I have created approximately 65 blog postings and all contributions have something to do with the net in higher education. Whether anybody will read my contributions or not is of secondary importance even if it is interesting to receive feeback in the form of a comment now and then.

I have also embedded photos from Flickr and here I have chosen images which are CreativeCommons licensed. I already had a Flickr account of my own (www.flickr.com/lejon2008) where I upload my photos, all of them with cc-license, of course. Why would I put something on the net if nobody was allowed to use it. Better to keep it in my drawer then.

Concerning Twitter I haven't been so active lately but what is most valuable with Twitter is to have an army of scouts ”out there” who constantly inform you of what is going on. You follow persons, as in my case, write about net-based learning and not about there kittens and their shoppings and the like.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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