Book Review: Higher Education in the Digital Age

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This looks interesting, addressing a number of issues (MOOCs, etc) that are highly current, although the focus appears to be on maintaining elitism:

What we call widening participation or access to higher education in the UK is not a central concern of this debate; rather it is about how higher education can contribute to the increased productivity of both elite higher education and the subsequent labour markets – both of which, of course, are already being transformed through technological change. Equally interestingly, these lectures, which have been available online since the colloquium, and this subsequent publication, make scant mention of how socially transformative these Moocs can be.

Read full review.

Chinese Politeness & Education

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A really interesting piece about the culture in Chinese universities:

Respect, in this instance, simply means having regard for those who know more than them. In the West, putting intellectual pressure on students can be dubbed “bullying”; here in China, they expect you to expect the best of them. In fact, most of my students are highly competitive, keen to demonstrate their aptitude for learning as well as their attitude to learning. It is a thirst for finding things out that is reflective of and responsive to the social dynamism in which they find themselves.

In the end, it is the willingness of my students to get on, to understand the world (not just their part of it) and to be critical and creative that is rewarding. As a result, there is also a refreshing pressure on me to perform. Besides, when all students are armed with mobile phone cameras – like a phalanx of Chinese tourists snapping away at my blackboard calculations – there is no way that I can blame them for copying things down incorrectly.

Read full post.

Dangers from MOOCs?

http://facultyecommons.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/what-is-a-mooc1.jpg

http://facultyecommons.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/what-is-a-mooc1.jpg

Interesting challenges to the standard model of University teaching from MOOCs – needs to be taken seriously:

There is a lot of apocalyptic language around at the moment. And not just in higher education: we are, after all, still picking our way through the aftermath of a financial “tsunami”.

So it was timely for the authors of a recent report on the challenges facing our own sector to couch their analysis in terms of an “avalanche”.

The upheaval forecast by the Institute for Public Policy Research in An Avalanche Is Coming: Higher Education and the Revolution Ahead is based largely on the advent of a new type of online learning – the now ubiquitous massive open online course, or Mooc. Co-authored by Sir Michael Barber (a former head of Tony Blair’s Delivery Unit who is currently chief education strategist for the education giant Pearson), the report warns of a coming era of unprecedented competition in higher education driven by proliferating online opportunities, and it generated widespread media coverage last month.

Read full article.

University Social Media Untrustworthy?

social-media-funConsidering that many marketing departments in Universities are still influenced by those who found their feet in old media, am not too surprised by this… social media is all about relationships/building trust…:

Prospective students are keen to engage with their university through social media channels, with one fifth of students saying that universities don’t make enough use of social media in recruitment, which meant they currently didn’t expect or look for information there.

What’s more, many of the students we surveyed were clueless that their chosen university even had a Twitter or Facebook account – showing that there is a need for universities to ensure their social media presence is clearly signposted to attract the widest audience.

There is also a question to be asked about what kind of content is relevant for social media profiles. We found that fewer than one in five students were influenced by university Twitter accounts and only one in four were influenced by Facebook pages or blogs.

Read full article.

Internal Communications

565499_news_news_and_more_newsInteresting piece on the need to keep staff informed internally – always something that we’ve talked about in the age of social media – if you want people to tweet good stuff about your organisation, they’ve got to feel a sense of ownership/involvement in it (aka not just ‘nice glossy newsletters from top-down’) – and also need to know the good stuff (but also a recognition that those ‘up top’ understand the down stuff too):

Staff members spend much of their time dealing with student problems, so “the ethos, or the story around your university really becomes one of mediocre performance”, he told delegates on 26 March at the annual conference of the Association of University Administrators in Edinburgh.

To change the common internal perception that a university was merely “OK” or “all right”, institutions needed to target their staff with news of student achievement, awards and successful research, he advised.

Read full story.

Changing Models of Higher Education

University written in Stone

http://www.rgbstock.com/photo/mg1Wq0K/University+Pillar

A number of changes, including increasing numbers studying, implementation of private provision, students paying their own way, new regions driving global competition, and internationalisation are impacting the way that HE works:

Private institutions, such as the 308,000-student University of Phoenix’s online campus, are taking a lead in creating “hybrid” models, which offer degree programmes through both online platforms and traditional campuses, while prestigious institutions such as Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are among those introducing massive open online courses in an effort to provide free, quality education to the masses (although most Moocs do not carry academic credit).

Having been involved in efforts to launch the nationally funded – and failed – UK eUniversity in 2000, Fielden is sceptical about the role of distance learning. Those working on the project “found then, as The Open University found, that you have to have some face-to-face contact”. The hybrid model “has more potential but it can be more expensive and difficult” to implement, he cautions.

Read full article.

Brazilian Universities on the Up!

http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1381962

http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1381962

I have a serious soft-spot for Brazil – having lived there for around 6 months, and had a return visit since – so really interested to see this story about the rise of Brazilian Universities:

The University of São Paulo is the top-ranked Latin American institution in the 2012-13 Times Higher EducationWorld University Rankings, at 158, and it is the oldest university in Brazil. Its leafy campus in the city is so huge that staff move between buildings in cars, while its students – some of whom would not look out of place in London’s trendy Hoxton neighbourhood – are known for keeping fit by criss-crossing the site on foot. Boasting four university hospitals and four on-site museums, the institution manages to achieve cultural dominance in a city of 11 million people, and it is set to expand even further. Some 11,500 students graduate from the University of São Paulo each year and, like other public higher education institutions in Brazil, it charges no tuition fees.

The university owes much of its might to its enormous budget. Most public universities in Brazil (typically the country’s oldest and most research-focused institutions) are managed by the federal government, but the University of São Paulo receives its funding directly from the state of São Paulo, the wealthiest region in Brazil. It is not the only institution to benefit from this arrangement: in a set-up enshrined in the state’s constitution, three of its universities receive a guaranteed 10 per cent of the state’s tax revenues each year between them. Up to 90 per cent of the funding distributed by the São Paulo Research Foundation, FAPESP, also typically goes to academics and students at these institutions via grants and scholarships. The foundation itself receives another 1 per cent of state tax revenues to spend on research, innovation and education – the equivalent of about £350 million a year.

Read full story – and maybe I want to pick up on my Portugues – or is it all about science?!!