Thursday, July 22, 2010

Campus Technology – Day 4 – Part 3

The final act of the conference in which the closing keynote address in which Josh Baron, the director of academic technology and elearning at Marist College talks about The Ed Tech Journey and a Future Driven by Disruptive Change.

He began by defining what disruptive change is. He also encouraged people to tweet any comments and questions that he will respond to the next date.

He asked what was important about the dates of 4/28/03 and 4/3/08? – on 4/28/08 – Apple launched itTunes and on 4/3/08 it has become the largest music retailer in the US with 50 million customers.

So how will education look like in the future due to this change. He quickly looked at the past impact of digital revolution, which has been minimal. Data transfer speeds have expanded exponentially from the telegraph operator transmitted at 28 bits per second while the internet transfers at 48 billion bits per second.

Processing speeds and storage capacity  for computers have grown rapidly from the 1970s to the present.

In the classroom, he shows a picture of what he calls  the high-tech hall of the 1960s had two televisions.

In the 1996 high-tech lecture hall has an overhead projection system with a computer, a camcorder, VCR and television, but the teacher is still lecturing like in the 1960s.

So he asks why there is no disruption? He answers that we ae trying to just automate instruction, i.e. switch from transparencies to PowerPoint. There was some disruption from distance education and entry of for-profits. Currently 1 in 4 students take at least one online course per semester.


Emerging technologies are in two buckets. The first is Open eduction trends:

  1. Open course content – high quality university-level course materials are free to access, share, and remix without cost. Example MIT’s OpenCourseWare (OCW) project – 2000 courses online.
  2. Open Access Journals – to make scholarly journals free to the public. Jorunals can be found at Directory of Open Access Journals. The material goes through the typical vetting process.
  3. Open Textbooks – similar to open access journals – a leader is Connexions based at Rice University. Another example is a commercial ecosystem in Flat World Knowledge. Flat World Knowledge allows her to customize books for her needs (Ed Note: does this create a problem in which two students with two different teachers use the same Flat World Knowledge textbook, but have modified them. Can they have a fair debate over a topic if they have two different sources of information.
  4. Open Instructional Software. Carnegie Mellon is spearheading. It focuses on cognitive learning and the software has embedded cognitive tutor to assist.


His predictions for the future disruptions in education are:

  • The cost of educational content dramatically reduced that will lead in the collapse of the traditional publishing industry.
  • Also see trends toward “best of breed” content, materials will be constantly improved. This will allow faculty to focus on teaching, not content creation.
  • It will empower “self-directed learners” and they will ask questions about the cost of their education.

Many people think we are heading into a post-LMS era with a focus instead on personal learning environment which is highly personal. But LMS will not go away because of privacy issues around grades and other personal data found on LMS. He thinks their will be a mashup of LMS and PLE.

Next he focused on electronic portfolios. They have been around almost as long as LMS, but it was not until 2003 that their use has started to take over. Growth drivers is the value of “reflection” in student-centered learning. Other drivers are Accountability (Spellings Commission), and a means to capture all facets of learning such as curricular, cocurricular, and extracurricular. Unfortunately there is no credentialing module to give credit or extracurricular work.

Final disruption is the Semantic Web in which the machine can interpret the data in your system. Wolfram Alpha is an early attempt to address this issue. This will allow learners to ask computers deeper questions and learn from their answers.

The disruptions are:

  • Empowering of self-directed and informal learning
  • Enable documenting and credentialing of outcomes from self-directed and informal learning
  • Self-directed competes with higher education
  • The internet becomes  a powerful learning tool for knowledge generation

He finished by envisioning what the future holds for education.

Learning will not be held hostage by large, professional educational organizations in which you pay for the right to education.

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