OU Potential

The shift to embracing an information abundance world is going to be much harder, and with more casualties than most of us can imagine.

I have talked to a number of academics who are not immersed in digital learning, and am surprised about their reactions to changes in the educational model. Virtually every one is incredibly defensive about what they have always done and how they approach their teaching. This is the way we’ve always done it, and this is the way we will always do it.

They get excited about the idea of a MOOC. They think that recording a lecture and putting it online is cutting edge. They think that the world will change at their pace. I think they are wrong.

I just watched Martin Bean’s keynote at the HEA conference this year (was going to Canada, so didn’t make the conference). I’ve heard him before, and his message is similar to what he has said before. What is frightening for the rest of HE is that he is the Chancellor of the OU! He is a visionary leader who can see the direction education is going, and he is shaping the OU to seize the initiative.

If anyone thinks this is not a big deal, the OU is one of the world’s leading institutions. With 250,000 students and leadership like Martin Bean, watch this space. I think that if the OU can shake off the traditional image it has as an alternative university and re image itself as the way of the future, there will be a reshaping of the HE environment like never before.

I think the Edx initiatives pale when compared to what would be possible if the OU pulled out all the stops and began to realise the vision Martin personifies.

Given the head in the sand mentality of most academics in traditional universities, the future doesn’t look rosy.


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