Monday, May 18, 2009

Committee of Enquiry into the Changing Learner Experience

This committee has produced a report titled Higher Education in a web2.0 world, which was looked at in one off my meetings today (the Information and Knowledge Board). Full report can be found at (published 12th May 2009)

The background findings of the report are under heading of:
  • Prior experience of HE learners
  • Learner Expectation
  • web2.0 use in HE now
Critical issues are classed as:
  • immediate and fundamental - the digital divide, information literacies,
  • ongoing drivers for change -tradition, environmental factors, diversity in the learner population, a richer educational experience, practice in schools, open source materials and online universities, skills development
  • fundamental over time - the role of the tutor
The conclusion of the executive summary states:

"Higher education has a key role in helping students refine, extend and articulate the diverse range of skills they have developed through their experience of Web 2.0 technologies. It not only can, but should, fulfil this role, and it should do so through a partnership with students to develop approaches to learning and teaching. This does not necessarily mean wholesale incorporation of ICT into teaching and learning. Rather it means adapting to and capitalising on evolving and intensifying behaviours that are being shaped by the experience of the newest technologies. In practice it means building on and steering the positive aspects of those behaviours such as experimentation, collaboration and teamwork, while addressing the negatives such as a casual and insufficiently critical attitude to information. The means to these ends should be the best tools for the job, whatever they may be. The role of institutions of higher education is to enable informed choice in the matter of those tools, and to support them and their effective deployment."

I was interested in the short section on Open Source Materials and Online Universities - commenting on the amount of online content available, the committee felt it not unreasonable to foresee a situation with a small number of international purveyors of HE, and that students may choose to use these, or go overseas for study. This links to my thoughts on Jeff Jarvis' book "What Would Google Do" (see earlier in this blog). What a University must do is to define itself not as a provider of information and knowledge, but as something else (doing what you do best, and linking to the rest). Indeed the committee report does go on to say that the idea of a university as a place to go to is firmly embedded in the national consciousness (but for how much longer?) but that they should develop their potential to ensure continuing relevance and centrality to society.


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