Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Edgeless University

Today (23rd June 2009), the thinktank Demos launched "The Edgeless University", a new pamphlet exploring the impact of technological and social change on universities. The launch was by David Lammy MP (Minister for Higher Education and Intellectual Property) Peter Bradwell (Researcher, Demos) Malcolm Read (Executive Secretary, JISC) Ann Mroz (Editor, Times Higher Education, Ed Smith (Demos Trustee and Board Member, Higher Education Funding Council for England) and Richard Reeves, (Director Demos (Chair))

The full document can be downloaded from here an dit addresses why higher education must embrace technology.

Here are some key quotes:

"The aim has to be to make those running universities realise that technology isn’t just something that means you build a room full of computers on your campus."

"Universities provide spaces for developing expertise, validating learning and they bring prestige to those affiliated to them. This is not going to change. Instead they will have to start to open up continued learning and innovation to a wider population. Giving more people more ways to learn and research will be the only way to reconcile aspirations to maintain a world-class education system with high participation rates and moves towards equality of access."

"Institutions will find it difficult to continue to absorb rises in student numbers, or to pursue research excellence or handle the diversity of needs on campus. And people will continue to
take advantage of more flexible opportunities to learn outside the system. This is the value of and opportunity for the ‘Edgeless University’. At its most radical, edgelessness can lead to
institutions exploring new ways of accrediting learning, of providing recognition of research and learning and of offering affiliation. Those in informal learning can be offered help in finding routes to formal qualification, connecting with alternative providers or alternative open learning resources and of finding new forms of course provision."

The document looks at the importance of getting the technology right, but just as importantly getting the policy right.

Chapters are:

1 Universities challenged
2 Technology as cause: information technologies, learning and collaboration
3 Technology as solution: becoming edgeless
4 Managing the Edgeless University: challenges and recommendations

I'll blog more on the document once I've read it in more detail,but suffice to say there is plenty here for us to listen to, to consider where we are now as a Faculty or University, to recognise where we are already doing well under some of the headings, and most importantly where we need to do more.

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