I was recently asked by Panos Vlachopoulos to answer the following questions. Here are my responses would be interested to here other people’s views.
1. What would you consider the top 3 challenges that the Higher Education sector faces in your country?
The top challenge for me is helping teachers make effective use of new technologies. They are confused by the plethora of possibilities and lack the necessary digital literacy skills to harness the affordances of new technologies. In relation to this then designing for learning is the key challenge facing education. Learning design has emerged as a new research field in the last ten years or so to address this.
In general the lack of digital literacy skills is an issue for both learners and teachers. Jenkins lists 11, which he argues are needed to be part of today’s ‘participatory culture’. I would add an additional one on creativity.
For formal educational institutions there is an issue in terms of new emergent business models, which are challenging the standard educational model of formal courses with accreditation. Examples include the peer-to-peer university, the OER University and MOOCs. In a world where resources and expertise are increasingly freely available what is the role for a traditional institution? I think we are beginning to see a disaggregation of learning, so that in the future many learners will opt to pay for particular things rather than take a full course. They may for example pay for high quality resource, which are kitemarked in some way, or they may pay to have a guided learning pathway or some structured form of support. Finally, they may choose to learn through free resources and then pay to be formally accredited.
2. Do you see any value of the OER (Open Educational Resources) movement in trying to address any of the challenges?
Yes I think OER have an important role to play, this is something we explored in the OPAL initiative where we derived a set of practices around the creation and use of OER, which we then translated into guidelines for learners, teachers, institutional managers and policy makers. The guidelines can be used to first benchmark existing OER practice and then create a roadmap and implementation plan for future development.
So those were my answers, Panos has collected a whole set of responses online.