Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Edgeless University

(Apologies for the focus on Higher Education, I'm afraid I do have a bias in that direction) A paper was launched about a week ago by the authors & by the UK Minister for Higher Education and Intellectual Property and a representative of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (thus signalling that Government may pay attention to it). Demos is a UK consultancy/ think tank.
Bradwell, P (2009) The edgeless university why higher education must embrace technology. London: Demos. http://www.demos.co.uk/files/Edgeless_University_-_web.pdf?1245715615
They interviewed a smallish sample of opinion-holders connected with higher education and form it into a fairly anecdotal narrative, with a series of recommendations at the end.
Their starting point is: "The forces now confronting higher education have been called ‘a perfect storm’. They are serious challenges. Universities must offer more varied provision to a growing number of students in an era when they can no longer depend on ever- increasing allocation of funds. These are challenges to institutions set up to cater for a different age. The challenge is to find ways to make available resources match society’s unchanged aspirations for education. In Britain this challenge is twofold: maintaining a continued international reputation for excellence in teaching, research and innovation; and continued progress to eradicate inequality of access."
The recommendations are: "Government policy must help higher education institutions develop new ways of offering education seekers affiliation and accreditation." "Institutions need strong leadership from advocates of technology within the institutions" (i.e. greater roles of CIOs); "What students want: Universities are already paying more attention to what students want. They should connect this with how they develop their technology policy."; "Use open technology"; "Greater recognition of teaching"; "Promote easy to use best practice guides."; Engage with the geeks"; "Promote shared resources and open course material"; "Curatorship" (serious attention to curating digital assets).
What one might recognise as information literacy (evaluating & using information) does get mentioned as something that students lack, at one point, but I would say that the report is not strong on identifying how the edgeless universities enable potential students to develop information and digital literacy skills to engage with them. I could critique this report ... but I don't think I have the time at the moment ;-)

Photo by Sheila Webber: Calliandra (powder puff) tree, Thessaloniki, Greece, June 2009

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