(keynote delivered at the Distance Learning Administration Conference on June 5, 2013)
I began writing this speech nearly three months ago. A week and a half ago, I wrapped it up and thought I had better run through it one last time in case any new educational technology had been released that I needed to discuss today.
I had the pleasure of attending last week’s Education Innovation Summit 2013 in Phoenix. Co-sponsored by Arizona State University (ASU) and GSV Advisors, this year’s event was the fourth and the largest by far. Because of my role in online education at American Public University System (APUS), I have been a member of the ASU/GSV advisory board and have attended all four conferences.
Pilot Program Forces Discussion of Online Learning, MOOCs, Student Retention, and the Future of Higher Education
Earlier this week, the California State University System (CSU) announced an online pilot program with Udacity, a for-profit provider of MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses). Udacity will provide a remedial algebra course, a college level algebra course, and a statistics course as part of the pilot that will initially be limited to 300 students at San Jose State University and several local community colleges.
You can’t read a recent issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education or Inside Higher Ed without seeing an article discussing the disruption that technology or MOOCs (Massively Open Online Course) are having or will have on the higher education sector. Because of the publicity, I receive questions from colleagues at conferences and other events asking me for my opinion about the potential for higher education disruption, the roadmap that it will take, and who will survive.
Ithaka S+R recently published a report funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and titled, “Barriers to Adoption of Online Learning Systems in U.S. Higher Education.” I have written extensively on this blog about the economic constraints facing institutions of higher education, issues of student persistence and retention, and the litany of other issues daunting the American higher education system today.
I have read three articles in the last three days about alternatives to earning a college degree, primarily through certification of one kind or another.
The first article, from The Chronicle of Higher Education, discusses the concept of “badges” that are awarded by various websites, training companies, individuals, etc. The concept is that the badge is relatively easy to earn (to keep the learner motivated and engaged) and indicates that they have achieved a certain skill level or learning competency.
Rich DeMillo has a lengthy background in academia serving as a professor at four different universities, Dean of Computing at Georgia Tech College of Computing, Director of the Computer and Computation Research Division of the National Science Foundation, and was Hewlett Packard’s first Chief Technology Officer. His latest book, Abelard to Apple: The Fate of American Colleges and Universities, developed from a five page memo that he planned to send to his colleagues about what was wrong at his university then evolved to a whitepaper in which he solicited the advice of friends and colleagues, and eventually to a book.
When I read Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns, I enjoyed Clayton Christensen and his co-authors’ application of the potential of disruptive innovations to the K-12 classroom. As a result, I looked forward to reading his new book, The Innovative University: Changing the DNA of Higher Education from the Inside Out.
An article in the August issue of Wired magazine about the Khan Academy and how it is changing the rules of education prompted me to write. Back in 2006 when my neighbor’s son was a middle school student at McDonogh School, I heard his mother describe how the math teachers at McDonogh had created math instructional videos for the students to use to grasp mathematical concepts.