Technology in Higher Education – Innovation Policy – Skills – Digital Literacy

Following is an article by Rogoff in Project Syndicate on the adoption, or not, of technology in universities and higher education whether MOOCS, flipped learning model, online or e-learning etc.

From Project Syndicate:

When Will Tech Disrupt Higher Education?

Feb 5, 2018 KENNETH ROGOFF

Universities pride themselves on producing creative ideas that disrupt the rest of society, yet higher-education teaching techniques continue to evolve at a glacial pace. Given education’s centrality to raising productivity, shouldn’t efforts to reinvigorate today’s sclerotic Western economies focus on how to reinvent higher education?

CAMBRIDGE – In the early 1990s, at the dawn of the Internet era, an explosion in academic productivity seemed to be around the corner. But the corner never appeared. Instead, teaching techniques at colleges and universities, which pride themselves on spewing out creative ideas that disrupt the rest of society, have continued to evolve at a glacial pace.

Sure, PowerPoint presentations have displaced chalkboards, enrolments in “massive open online courses” often exceed 100,000 (though the number of engaged students tends to be much smaller), and “flipped classrooms” replace homework with watching taped lectures, while class time is spent discussing homework exercises. But, given education’s centrality to raising productivity, shouldn’t efforts to reinvigorate today’s sclerotic Western economies focus on how to reinvent higher education?…

…Universities and colleges are pivotal to the future of our societies. But, given impressive and ongoing advances in technology and artificial intelligence, it is hard to see how they can continue playing this role without reinventing themselves over the next two decades. Education innovation will disrupt academic employment, but the benefits to jobs everywhere else could be enormous. If there were more disruption within the ivory tower, economies just might become more resilient to disruption outside it.

 

Issues for higher education may emanate from teaching and/or learning tradition or habits, physical size and complexity e.g. silos, self-perception of being leaders not followers, older generations lacking digital literacy making strategic decisions, interests of permanent versus temporary personnel, slow moving and long communication lines both top down vertical, and lateral.

 

Tradition versus Innovation?

 

One could argue that traditional university lectures, religious preaching and political propagation have centred round expert or influencer communicating physically to non-experts in familiar formats that have not been challenged since the time of Gutenberg, duplicator and photocopiers?

 

Further, underlying issue is may be existing personnel, hence processes and systems, preclude taking on new digital technology (optimally) as observed in other sectors due to perceived disruption or lack of encouragement, or even discouragement.

 

Digital or e-Marketing and Communications

 

Marketing and communications in international education was a case in point whereby strategy informed by faculty attendance at international events was replicated in ‘international marketing’ with focus upon events including professional development and networking opportunities, versus marketing grounded in enrolled students on campus (customer journey, relationship management, satisfaction, testimonials, peer influence and word of mouth).

 

Digital or e-marketing arrived by early noughties but at best was used by universities etc. for international marketing as modest ‘budget allocation’ through traditional advertising and promotional channels. Described by some technophobes as something for the domestic ‘web marketing team’ when in fact digital behaviour upends traditional channels requiring bottom up analysis and strategy development, plus KPIs and ROI.

 

Architecture of Higher Education and Policy

 

Another concern with the focus now upon effective, efficient or economic education delivery and digital technology is the specialisation and/or atomisation of those working in all levels of education versus well rounded professionals with skills of content, teaching, learning, design, delivery, assessment, evaluation, administration and technology.

 

Rather than expecting or commissioning sub-contractors to consult with subject matter experts (SMEs), doing ‘instructional design’ (possibly lacking knowledge pedagogy and andragogy), narrow evaluation e.g. of course design only, using doctorate qualified temporary instructors for blended learning or flipped model but lacking skills of teaching; why not multi-skilled educators delivering based upon customer or student learning needs?

Advertisements