Opening Comments, ALT policy board, 29th April 2013
Martin OliverPresident, Association for Learning TechnologyAs briefed byJohn SlaterActing Director of Development, Association for Learning TechnologyOPENING COMMENTSALT POLICY BOARD29TH APRIL, 2013
• Education is on the brink of being transformed throughtechnology; however, it has been on that brink for somedecades now.(Laurillard, 2008)
• E-learning exploits interactive technologies and communicationsystems to improve the learning experience. It has the potentialto transform the way we teach and learn across the board. Itcan raise standards, and widen participation […] It cannotreplace teachers and lecturers, but […] it can enhance thequality and reach of their teaching, and reduce the time spenton administration. It can enable every learner to achieve his orher potential, and help to build an educational workforceempowered to change. It makes possible a truly ambitiouseducation system for a future learning society.(DfES, 2003)
• Games and game play tend to be treated as “out there,” beyondthe school gate, in some better, more authentic, moredemocratic, more meaningful place, other than the current andfailing educational regime. By bringing games into educationalpractice and theory, the hope is, it often seems, that thediseased, geriatric body of education can be treated through therejuvenating, botox-like effect of educational game play.(Pelletier, 2009: 84)
• The UK is seen as world class, and often world leading, innetworking, content and digital libraries, access management,and many areas of e-learning. Until recently the UK was worldclass in providing e-infrastructure for research and in e-science.We lag behind in generating and making available high qualitymodern learning and teaching resources. It is essential that theUK does not lose its lead, and continues to play a full andleading role internationally in the ICT world.(Cooke, 2008)
What has contributed to past success?• Perceived quality (QAA, regulation, etc.)• English language• Pedagogy and Technology used• Historical influence (power, colonies, legacy of status)• Tourist destination• Research profile
What was the way forward?• A new approach to virtual education based on a corpus of openlearning content• Revitalised investment into e-infrastructures• Development of institutional information strategies(Cooke, 2008)How much of this happened? Did it change anything?
• As the Government focuses on growth there are few sectors of oureconomy with the capacity to grow and generate export earnings asgreat as higher education. Every overseas student on average paysfees of about £10,000 a year and spends almost as much whilst theyare here. That means 400,000 overseas students bring in almost £8billion a year.• Overseas students travelling to the UK to study is just one way we cangrow. Last year 400,000 overseas students came to the UK to study.But for the first time this was exceeded by the record 500,000 peoplewho benefitted from British higher education whilst living abroad.(Willetts, 2012)
• The vast majority of ODL offered by HE institutions is at postgraduate level• It was not easy to find ODL courses through routine searches. This problemwas compounded by a lack of clarity in the terminology used by institutionsto describe their ODL programmes. […] there is no reliable or accurateconsolidated source of information about ODL courses offered in the UK thatis readily available to students, or other parties, interested in finding ODLprogrammes, and much of the information on ODL currently remains „hidden‟in labyrinthine institutional websites.• Technology was described as „vital but not central‟• Recognition of the requirement for low student-tutor ratios and regularfeedback and assessment points to ensure that students are engaged andretained(White et al, 2010)
• No significant differences? (Reeves, 2005)• The meta-analysis found that, on average, students in onlinelearning conditions performed modestly better than thosereceiving face-to-face instruction. […] Analysts noted that theseblended conditions often included additional learning time andinstructional elements not received by students in controlconditions. This finding suggests that the positive effectsassociated with blended learning should not be attributed to themedia, per se.(US Department of Education, 2010)
• A consensus that in order to expand strategically the provision of highquality ODL courses, a robust institutional infrastructure fordeveloping, delivering and maintaining courses is essential. A keyconsideration is the extent to which institutions provide central supportto facilitate such developments. In many cases, ODL offerings haveevolved from a „cottage industry‟ style approach with developmentsled wholly at departmental level. While this approach was seen tohave many benefits, not least ensuring academic quality andpromoting innovation, it was also seen as a challenge and a potentialbarrier to expanding provision.(White et al, 2010)
We knew this from the UKeU:• One of the biggest challenges large-scale e-learning initiativesface is how to ensure overall coherent coordination of theproject, while still maintaining a balance and respect for theindividualism, idiosyncrasy, creativity and unsystematic workingprocesses of the academics involved.(Conole et al, 2006)
Perceived threats:• Cheap private providers, from US and elsewhere• Specialist distance learning providers, e.g. Phoenix• Growth of English language courses across Europe• Cost
• Enrollments at the University of Phoenix and in the for-profitsector over all have been declining in the last two years, partlybecause of growing competition from other online providers,including nonprofit and public universities, and a steady drumrollof negative publicity about the sector‟s recruiting abuses, lowgraduation rates and high default rates ... including manycharges that the schools enrolled students who had almost nochance of succeeding, to get their federal student aid.(Lewin, 2012)
• Here in the US this week I have been struck by the surge ofactivity in distance learning. Professor Agarwal President ofEdx, a not for profit set up jointly by Harvard and MIT, told me ofhis ambition to getting a billion students across the worldstudying online. Here on the West Coast social enterprises likeCoursera spun off from Stanford are similarly ambitious. Wemay be at a tipping point in distance learning as technologyoffers more efficient and more effective ways of learning thanever before. British higher education must not be left behind.(Willetts, 2012)
• Whether or not these rates matter depends largely on the perceivedpurpose of the MOOCs in the first place. If the aim is to give theopportunity of access to free and high-quality courses from eliteuniversities and professors, then high dropout rates may not be aprimary concern (Gee, 2012). However, it is widely agreed that itwould be useful to improve the retention rates of MOOCs by findingout why and at what stage students drop out of courses.(Yuan & Powell, 2013)• If all we want is self-directed learning, why not leave it to wikipedia?• Can we extend meaningful participation beyond the 1:25 ratio?
• The flexible student is not a spontaneous occurrence. Students(including full-time students) have been engineered to becomemore „flexible‟ as a result of policies, which have put morefinancial pressures on them to work in particular ways. It hasalso the created conditions under which the only way for manyadults to access higher education is via „flexible‟ modes ofdelivery. In this sense, students are forced to become „flexible‟and the flexibility to which they are supposed to conform is aparticular pre-determined set of learning practices or process.(Clegg & Steel, 2002)
• Those with social advantage find it easier to take advantage ofnew opportunities; advantage can be perpetuated, not eroded,by introducing new forms of learning and teaching.(Holley & Oliver, 2010)
• “There is a significant question for higher education institutions toaddress: are online teaching innovations, such as MOOCs, heraldinga change in the business landscape that poses a threat to theirexisting models of provision of degree courses?”(Yuan & Powell, 2013)Will prestige providers‟ MOOCs squeeze out lower prestige fee-charginginstitutions?…if institutions such as Antioch University give degrees for completingthem…?• “Commercial organisations see MOOCs as a way to enter the HEmarket by providing a MOOC platform and developing partnershipswith existing institutions and to explore new delivery models in HE.”(Yuan & Powell, 2013)
• The kind of issues raised in this paper in terms of the UKeU project(technical, organizational and pedagogical) are crucial in any e-learning project, which by its very nature, and not only in the particularform it took in the UKeU as a public/private partnership, bringstogether people from different backgrounds and from different sectorsinto teams.• “some of the people I was dealing with within UKEU had noconception of what we were talking about. As far as they wereconcerned these were clients. This was just another client and thiswas washing machines that were being sold. I have had peoplebanging my table saying „I want you to do this‟ and I‟d say „No, anddon‟t talk to me like that. I ain‟t doing that because it is wrong‟.”(Conole et al, 2006)
• The number of Indian students studying at UK universities fell by 24 per centlast year, as the government‟s tightening of the student visa system tookeffect […] Jo Beall, British Council director of education and society, said theIndia and Pakistan falls were “very alarming indeed”.(Times Higher, Jan 2013)• The government‟s own impact assessment for its early reforms to studentvisas estimated the effect on net migration as a reduction of 56,000 by 2015(UKBA 2011), less than a proportionate contribution to hitting the target. Butit has made further reforms since then, and has indicated that it will continueto make further adjustments, with the intention of „bearing down‟ further onnumbers, throughout the current parliament.(Cavanagh & Glennie, 2012)• With news stories like London Met, and competition from Australia, Malaysiaetc, how will the UK fare?
• Vietnam and Malaysia have the top highest growth rates for eLearningproducts in the world at 44.3% and 39.4%, respectively. Thailand, thePhilippines, China, and India are also in the top ten countries with thehighest growth rates on the planet.• There are three major catalysts in Asia. Two catalysts — the massive contentdigitization efforts across the school systems in every country in the regionand the large-scale deployments of tablets in the academic segments —essentially create a new delivery platform for suppliers.• The third catalyst is the explosive growth of online higher educationenrollments. Combined, these catalysts have created a massive demand forpackaged content.(Adkins, 2012)
SUMMARY• A period of profound change, with technology set to transform education ……again.• “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”;(Santayana, 1905)• Preoccupation with MOOCs, standing for wider issues• Globalisation• International markets• Education (not just learning by the few) at scale• Higher Education‟s social contract• Relationships between public and private institutions
REFERENCES• Adkins, S. (2012) The Asia Market for Self-paced eLearning Products and Services: 2011-2016 Forecast andAnalysis. Ambient insight regional report. http://www.ambientinsight.com/Resources/Documents/AmbientInsight-2011-2016-Asia-SelfPaced-eLearning-Market-Abstract.pdf• Cavanagh, M. & Glennie, A. (2012) International Students and Net Migration in the UK. London: Institute for PublicPolicy Research. http://www.ippr.org/images/media/files/publication/2012/04/international-students-net-migration_Apr2012_8997.pdf• Clegg, S. & Steel, J. (2002) Flexibility as myth? New technologies and post-Fordism in Higher Education.Proceedings of Networked Learning, 2002.http://www.networkedlearningconference.org.uk/past/nlc2002/proceedings/symp/08.htm• Conole, G., Carusi, A., de Laat, M., Wilcox, P. & Darby, J. (2006) Managing differences in stakeholder relationshipsand organizational cultures in e-learning development: lessons from the UK eUniversity experience. Studies inContinuing Education, 28:2, 135-150.• Cooke, R. (2008) On-line Innovation in Higher Education.http://www.dius.gov.uk/policy/documents/online_innovation_in_he_131008.pdf• DfES - Department for Education and Skills (2003) Towards a Unified e-Learning Strategy. DfES: Bristol.http://www.education.gov.uk/consultations/downloadableDocs/towards%20a%20unified%20e-learning%20strategy.pdf• Holley, D. & Oliver, M. (2010) Student engagement and blended learning: portraits of risk. Computers & Education54, 693-700.• Lewin, T. (October 17, 2012). "University of Phoenix to Shutter 115 Locations". The New York Times.
REFERENCES• Laurillard, D. (2008) Digital technologies and their role in achieving our ambitions for education, A professoriallecture, Institute of Education, London. Republished by the Association for Learning Technologies, Oxford.http://ioe.academia.edu/DianaLaurillard/Papers/452697/Digital_technologies_and_their_role_in_achieving_our_ambitions_for_education• Pelletier, C. (2009). Games and Learning: whats the connection, International Journal of Learning and Media 1(1),83-101. http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1162/ijlm.2009.0006• Reeves, T. C. (2005). No significant differences revisited: A historical perspective on the research informingcontemporary online learning. In G. Kearsley (Ed.), Online learning: Personal reflections on the transformation ofeducation (pp. 299-308). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.• US Department of Education (2010) Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysisand Review of Online Learning Studies. Washington DC: US Department of Education.http://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/tech/evidence-based-practices/finalreport.pdf• White, D., Warren, N., Faughan, S. & Manton, M. (2010) Study of UK Online Learning: Final Report. Oxford:Technology-Assisted Lifelong Learning. http://www.jisc.ac.uk/media/documents/projects/UKOnlineLearningStudy-FinalReport-Mar10-FINAL-FORPUB.pdf• Willetts, D. (2012) Keynote Speech on international higher education, Goldman Sachs-Stanford University GlobalEducation Conference. http://rnn.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/Press-Releases/David-Willetts-s-keynote-speech-on-international-higher-education-67baa.aspx• Yuan, L. & Powell, S. (2013) MOOCs and Open Education: Implications for Higher Education. A White Paper. JISCCETIS, http://publications.cetis.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/MOOCs-and-Open-Education.pdf