Category Archives: Higher Education
The recent discussion created by Stanford student, Ben Rudolph, in his blog post about the Rigor of Stanford’s Free Classes, is a good opportunity for us to step back and critique the larger picture of our digital course delivery strategies. The reality for most of us is that we will deal with an increased adoption of online interaction in higher education teaching and learning. For pure online courses there are best practices, similar rules for blended or hybrid delivery and yes traditional course delivery can benefit from the adoption of online tools. But we have to keep a proper focus on what the product really is. For the traditional college degree which still relies on a Face-2-Face model, that product may be less about the dissemination of information but it will always be about the shaping of knowledge.
Stanford student, Ben, does ask some valid questions about why his course experience may be diluted by a course design that caters to a massive public audience. And it may be that this specific course lost its true compass, but it has caused me to consider where this may be headed. I think most of us have been intrigued by the increased amount of open access to courses at some of our most prestigious institutions. I have written it off mostly as publicity that they can afford. Of course it does offer valuable structured learning material that is sometimes helpful to other educators. And these open courses that Stanford and MIT have offered that connect a form of certification of completion do move toward a new form of a student’s accreditation of learning. This is good for our society, it provides opportunity for all. But let’s make sure we in higher education understand our product. We help a student transform information into knowledge and hope to mold their character so they utilize that knowledge to benefit a greater “Good” for all. Higher Education must deliver a version of that product and our warranties must be true to the expectations of our students.
We are starting to see the new wave of digital content that foretells the impending digital transformation of higher education. My EdTech team now understands that the trend for these digital materials is moving toward more sophisticated web based packages and of course E-Textbooks represent the most rapid transition. As our university’s president has been trying to convey to our community, we the academic institution is no longer the source for information, we must learn to be the mentor for the information that our students now have access to. We will no longer discount the value of public or commercial sources for information because we can no longer compete with their quality.
Possibly a significant milestone for this transition is the announcement of my higher education IT colleague, Adrian Sannier, becoming the Vice President of Product Marketing for Pearson eCollege. Adrian has been the UTO of Arizona State University for the last five years. In that time many of his accomplishments are representative of the transition of higher education. Outsourcing, ERP efficiency, business collaboration such as for the delivery of communication services. However, what Adrian may be most known for is his statement that we should just burn down the libraries and quit wasting money air conditioning all of those books. Well you know, Adrian is now in a position where he can actually influence this change that he has spoken about. I can’t think of a better person to be at the creative helm for one of the companies that will help lead that charge.
If you have followed my blog or George Fox University you know about our laptop program where in recent years we have given out an Apple MacBook to all incoming freshman. The purpose for the program was for marketing, standardization and convenience. The issue for us is the changing landscape of educational computing and the value dilution of a laptop for a traditional undergraduate. George Fox University happens to find itself at the crossroads for both of these issues.
We had been hoping that the iPad would be the perfect transition technology, but I address some of the shortcomings of the iPad that prevented us from offering the iPad in place of the MacBook next year. However, in looking for a way to offer an option to the MacBook we have decided to offer the iPad as an alternative choice. I think this will be a very interesting opportunity that will first be marked by the percentage who select the iPad and second by the success we find in utilizing and supporting it. Now we will make sure the iPad offering is as complete as possible and we won’t be able to give any guarantees that the iPad equally replaces the MacBook. In fact the smarter value choice would be for the MacBook, but what will the students choose?
There will be many reasons why students may choose an iPad and it will typically break down into those who already have their laptop of choice or those who actually believe that the iPad is the more functional computing device for them to be a successful student. How the numbers work out will be interesting, but no matter what I think we will see many iPads, iPhones and iTouches throughout the undergraduate population. We will be deliberate in tying to integrate these mobile devices into our Teaching & Learning strategies, but in most cases we will just be observing whether the iPad satisfies the technology needs for undergraduate higher education. Of course the rapid availability and our adoption of E-Textbooks will strongly influence the value of the iPad. Stay tuned.
I probably should be posting everyday if I wanted to keep everyone up-to-date on the many discussions and issues circulating around our investigation of the iPad as our university’s recommendation for a student educational technology device. But I took 5 days out to celebrate my dad’s 95th birthday and now the SuperBowl will require some attention. Go Colts.
So a quick update – the excitement that the iPad has generated was summed up well by our President who was in Washington DC during the Apple iPad event where he observed that the iPad announcement received more media attention then the State of the Union Address. Many who fear the change that the iPad will bring have argued for what it can’t do. Here is an example: “but it does not do handwriting recognition” or “it does not have a camera”, “it does not multi-task”, etc. So let’s be clear – the iPad is not a Tablet, or Laptop, or iPhone. It is an iPad and it is not intended to be like anything else, it is a NEW and innovative technology.
Many play the skeptical role questioning whether it will be successful and they are content to wait and see. I say the iPad has no risk of failure, worst case it will be successful if nothing more then as a replacement for our love affair with having a morning newspaper. There is a reason why the book publishers are embracing the iPad and this is different from the music industry and the iPod. First, the music industry did not see or understand what hit them. Second, the iPad comes in as the second or third generation eBook reader that solves most of the problems. Third, the business concept has already been defined and Apple is not the enemy, Amazon and Google have been.
So I need to allocate enough time to fulfill my obligation as a die hard Colts fan this weekend and then I have to present a proposal to my university for why I believe the iPad would be a more effective education technology device then the current MacBook that we give to our students. However, the iPad has no chance of winning that role without the support of our faculty to leverage the iPad’s technological advantages in the classroom and on campus.