Terence Armentano asks:
…what are universities across the world doing about this information revolution? How are we demonstrating to our future students that we are not only a part of this human network but that we are leaders in the movement? Most universities were built and designed to function effectively in a single geographic location to a specific group of people in a print based environment. Now that we can communicate with people around the world instantly and access books, journals, presentations, videos, and more online, we should think of the world as our classroom. Future students understand this information age and expect universities to be on the front lines. As the world moves toward a global economy and information can be accessed from anywhere in the world, universities need to think more critically about how they want to proceed in developing leaders of this brave new digital age.
I spoke with Phillip Long of MIT during the recent EDUCAUSE ELI focus session. He had presented on iLabs (remote online lab access for real, not simulated, experiments using equipment that might not be available in certain institutions or countries). I asked him why MIT was offering these resources to other institutions (without charge). His response – it doesn’t cost MIT anything to allow others to use their equipment when it’s idle. But, in return, MIT hopes others will partner with them by writing and sharing learning activities, data sets, course outlines, etc. While this openness is certainly not common across all institutions, it does reveal a mindset shift: knowledge is not held or owned by an academic institution – it’s owned by a discipline. While we have created structures to “lock down” knowledge, it has always been owned by a discipline (scientific discoveries at one institution influenced activities in another). Great to see these gestures of collaboration from leading universities.