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The university lacks capacity to change education

Make no mistake, dramatic changes are occurring in education. These changes, due to the reluctance of the academy to map activities to the reality of the external world, are driven by external innovation. Quite simply, higher education is not in control of its fate as it has failed to develop the capacity to be self-reliant in times of change. I’ve seen universities (such as University of Manitoba) reach out to consulting and accounting firms to provide structural and funding change recommendations. I’ve seen universities begin to partner with online course providers such as StraighterLine to extend course offerings because they (the university) are simply not capable of fulfilling these roles themselves – they lack capacity to participate in this new space of learning. I used to think that higher education and open access would do away with the dominant role of traditional publishers. It looks like I was wrong. Publishers are now offering full course content packages that blend textbooks with faculty-produced materials (i.e. McGraw-Hill’s purchase of Tegrity – a lecture capture software). The university’s reliance on external offerings to fill their capacity gaps is a growing trend. For some (traditional liberal education advocates) it’s a concern. For others (entrepreneurs) it’s a blessing. And for still others (traditional publishers and content creators), it’s a way to stay relevant and perhaps even become more integrated with educational institutions than was possible with a textbook publishing model.

One Comment

  1. Benjamin wrote:

    If educators have the capacity to change, then schools (even universities) have the capacity to change…eventually. I’m optimistic that bottom-up change will force administrators and the community to change. Once educators and students begin reusing, revising, remixing, and redistributing content, administrators and the community will begin to see the value of OERs as a viable alternative to outsourcing through closed authorship.

    I am currently working with colleagues in finding ways to implement and sustain contributions to OERs in a way that focuses more on the revision, remixing, and redistribution of content. Once there is greater involvement among educators and there is evidence to show for it, then our university will hopefully be more willing to get involved (i.e., through donations, teacher development, OER projects, etc.).

    I don’t (and maybe I should) concern myself with whether “higher education and open access [will] do away with the dominant role of traditional publishers” at a global level. What I am concerned about is getting involved as much as possible with the people I am in contact with in finding ways to not so much “sell” the idea of OERs, but to find practical ways to interact with OERs that are viable. A mix of open and closed authoring will aways exist but have to believe that once educators start learning how to properly implement OERs in their current teaching practice, we will at the same time see a gradual shift to open authoring.

    Saturday, October 23, 2010 at 11:05 am | Permalink