You are doing some great work in Oklahoma – you are deep into battling the operational issues that make progress and change happen…I can’t help you with that – you ARE the experts in change for your institutions.SO: while you battle the alligators – I’d like to talk to you about the swamp.About what we at SREB are looking at as the drivers, guideposts, and cognitive dissonaters of change in education today.
As you mentally gird your academic loins for out adventure over the next few minutes…I would like you to also ponder on this question: Why is a textbook like a deck chair?
So – as we being – you have every right to know: Who is Myk… Photographer and CC faculty for 10 years - Distance Educator since 1987BEFORE SREB: Academic leader of Kentucky Virtual Campus from 1999 —2008 [Chief Academic Officer — Executive Director — and VP for eLearning for CPE]BEFORE THAT: Executive Director Distance Education Policy & Planning — USGCo-Author: National Study of Virtual College and University Consortia (2003)Co-Author: Lessons Learned from Virtual Universities (2009)Joined SREB in 2008 — which has had a pivotal role in State Virtual School movementan Academic Innovator – an Agent of Subversive and Viral Change (with OCTD)a “Techno-evangelist” – A Digital Utopian At my CORE I am a CHANGE AGENT – what do I change?Georgia State Economics Professor plotted the last 30 years of education funding against Gross Domestic product
As evidence I proffer the saga of Dwight Eisenhower's transition from President of the United States to leading Columbia University. How many know this one? It’s a Great one!In opening his first faculty meeting, he addressed the assembled professors as the "employees of Columbia." Whereupon a very senior member of the faculty in the back of the room stood up and explained, "Mr. President, we are not employees of the university. We ARE the university.”I would also like to note that textbooks are dead. THEREFORE: I shall endeavor to link the strength and vibrancy of faculty – with the obstinate challenge of the cost of the content used to attain an education.
First –the textbooks. I heard a senior vice president from Pearson Education say it two years ago. Textbooks are dead – we just don’t know it yet. The future, the executive went on to say, is already here – it just isn’t evenly distributed. We only see pieces of it – we don’t see the elephant. Well, from what we’ve learned this morning – there are a lot of people looking at the pieces now.
To begin with - textbooks are expensive. The average college student spends from $700 to $1,000 each year on textbooks. In the K-12 sector states such as Texas at over $600 million and Florida at over $100 million annually struggle to provide textbooks and materials to students.
Because of this – over half the states are entertaining legislation to either study or address the costs of textbooks. In addition to attention here in Oklahoma - Florida is looking into open-source content as an alternative and possible solution. California has reviewed open source textbooks against its state standards.One thing is VERY clear:Cost IS the enemy – for everyone (even publishers). So, if cost is the question…
Zero must be the answer. I told that Pearson executive they could own the content market (naive me – I didn’t know they effectively already did) if they offered their content for free. At this point I learned the how the term “monetize” meant survival in the publishing world – and zero meant going the way of the music and the newspaper businesses.Apparently this is NOT their intended business model.
Nevertheless – the race continues…Foundations have spent millions supporting the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement. Even though it seems to be taking forever for OER to move from nascent to disruptive - it does mean we are firmly locked into a race to zero. While we may not achieve absolute zero in textbook costs – the potential of technology and new pedagogies promise we will achieve reductions that aresignificant orders of magnitude lower than where we are now.
Of course the next question – after cost - is quality. How do we accomplish the marriage of zero cost with maximum quality? Not to worry. Quality is the purview of faculty – UNFORTUNATELY: cost – all too often - is not.It is the problems caused by this disconnect – that we are addressing today – and that I hope to informIn Kentucky, for example, across the 14 institutions of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System -over 70 different textbooks are specified for the Freshmen Composition course. Is this anexample of academic freedom - or of fiscal turpitude? I was told this fact by a legislator…and he didn’t seem to think it was the former.
And SREB has been active in this area. Over the past five years the SCORE project has enabled its 16 states to prepare and increase their ability to develop, publish, catalog and share content both within – and among their states…Our latest guidelines – which will be out at in early April – describe the policies states need to put in place to ensure that content, funded by public dollars – is effectively and explicitly sharable – to maximize the millions of dollars of content states themselves have produced – and are producing every year.HOWEVER – I want to be sure not to miss this opportunity to talk to you about OPPORTUNITY – and the FUTURE…In the SHORT-term – addressing the cost of textbooks is good…you are doing a great job of that…today. What I need to talk to you about is the LONG-term – maybe 2-3 Internet years away – when everything we are so good at is keeping us from moving in the ways we need to move…HEALTH ALERT: high-blood pressure, pacemakers, academic anemia suffers beware!
In the SHORT-term – addressing the cost of textbooks is good…you are doing a great job of that…today. What I need to talk to you about is the LONG-term – maybe 2-3 Internet years away – when everything we are so good at is keeping us from moving in the ways we need to move…HEALTH ALERT: high-blood pressure, pacemakers, academic anemia suffers beware!To address this – I think we need to understand the relationships of faculty, quality and cost. I’d like to start with the somewhat altered words of CharletonHeston, from the movie Soylent Green – standing alone in that urban wasteland of the future - screaming forth his discovery about the namesake product…
"Education is People!“Well - people - are individuals. Faculty have always understood this – focusing on being student-centric –on"individualized“ instruction for each learner.Indeed - with the increasing calls for standardization to cut costs…
for example, in the K12 sector the National Common Core Initiative of the Council of Chief State School Officers, the need to individualize learning is even GREATER. While consistent expectations is a good thing for the enterprise, as we know “one-size-fits-all” all too frequently means “this size fits no one student perfectly.” And perfect is what we are after. But I’m not focusing on students here…I’m talking about faculty.
So, I will revise my premise so aptly startedby Mr. Heston to: "Education is Faculty!" Here I think we are on a solid ground of common understanding. Faculty are the national common core for higher education. And they are, each and every one, individuals! This is the wonder of our myriad matrices of individualized teaching. We are all different - we each bring different skills to the classroom - and we all teach differently.
As is our inherent right. The American Association of University Professors and the Association of American Colleges and Universities states that “teachers are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject” and that “they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline.”The statement however is mute on the issue of cost. Presumably education must be free at all costs. But, as we have agreed – when these costs preclude learning – then we tread on the edge of turpitude.
Fortunately for us - technology can help lower the cost of content. Technology provides new tools to organize, present, discuss, manage, monitor and assess learning. Properly deployed it can reduce distribution and updating costs for content to NEAR zero. SORRY: just went a bit utopian there… SO – we thoughtfully ask - what does “properly deployed” mean?
Well, one initial instinct to control costs is to mandate that faculty members teaching the same class should use the same textbook (note my earlier reference to Kentucky’s 70 variations of textbooks for Freshman Comp). But this would be wrong. First, as we have agreed, it is the unique nature of each professor knitted together into a faculty that is, as the dons of Columbia asserted, the strength of the university. Secondly, it tries to provide today’s solution (of standardization) to tomorrow’s opportunity (of individualized of instruction). To understand just how wrong this is - we need to examine the significance of May 10th, 1869. On this date a momentous event occurred (no – the Morrill Act was in 1862)…
Think - Promontory Point in Utah. The Central and Union Pacific Railroads are connecting their tracks together and establishing the first transcontinental railroad. THE LESSON: Technologies that connect things together are powerful. They demand and drive standards. At this time in our history - there were hundreds, if not thousands, of time zones across the United States. In truth nobody knew how many – every town seemed to keep its own time. And this was okay – because when walking or riding a horse between towns – it made little difference what time you left and what time you arrived. But -when there was a railroad running through your town, it suddenly mattered a lot what time it was – and whether your train was on, or off, the track. The change? On November 22, 1883, by order of Congress, the United States had reduced it’s chronological chaos to four time zones. The paradox of this lesson becomes evident when we try to apply it to our seemingly similar situation in education today…
One could reason that, with the advent of online learning – it makes a difference when schools within the same system or state start their teaching - that they should all start at the same time. Now, initially, this does make sense.We have had students taking a distance learning course from one (distant) school in their system show up at their local school for library services or to watch a webinar only to find the local school did not open for instruction for another week. So, the lesson of the railroads would tell us that all the colleges within the system should start at the same time…right? Of course, wrong!
The real need, based on individualization, is that the campus should be open all the time – and instruction be ready to start whenever the student is ready. Rio Salado College in the Maricopa Community College System simulates this with instructional start dates every two weeks. So, what is the lesson for textbooks? That – in this case - standardizing maynot be the answer. Each student STILL needs to buy a book –regardless of the title – so mandating common textbooks will only achieve – at best – incremental reductions in cost based on volume.More importantly – and more to my point – any potential gains in student performance due to individualization are reduced and seriously restricted…
Therefore – I propose that even using powerful new technologies - we cannot truly realize the very necessary, significant, order-of-magnitude, transformative cost reductions, we need - if we do not utilize technology in new ways. Further – I would propose that faculty are the ones to make that difference happen. But - are faculty ready for that challenge? I have spent my career as a member of a faculty – and working with faculty – and I would answer unequivocally – Yes! Sort of…
It would be naïve to say that technology is not already altering our time-honed and honored traditions of teaching - and that it will continue to do so. However, study after study has resulted in the disturbing evidence that technology makes no significant difference in student learning. What the research shows is - rather than the technology - it is, MORE THAN ANYTHING - the individual faculty member - and her or his unique amalgamation of order, materials, work and performance that makes the significant difference in learning.
But it would be perilous to be satisfied with this knowledge – because – if you read disruptive innovation theory – the most dangerous thing to be in a time of tsunamic change (and we ARE in that time) is to be really good at an old model.
In the words of an almost ancient Apple computers marketing campaign, we need to “Think Different.” I like this phrase – not only because it directly identifies the challenge – but because, through its grammatical excentricity, it grates on us, it challenges us to consider something can be right – and wrong – at the same time. And that is where I think we are headed. A place that both feels wrong (based on what our academic gut is telling us now) and, as every synapse of our intellectual prognosticating center is telling us, is very right. Of course I mean mass customization.
The real lesson of the railroads, campus calendars and the social web is that it is about moving from bricks and mortar – or clicks and eyeballs – to dynamic networked learning ecosystems. How does that work with the textbook? In this brave new social order – the book becomes digital content. It becomes granular, searchable, taggable, recombinable – it becomes plastic, malleable data and knowledge that can be anything the user wants it to be…Sorry: it’s that utopian thing again…
Okay – point being – when you constrain yourthinking to the idea of 14th century textbooks - you limit your vision. I command you now - Forget the straight-jacket of the textbook! The textbook IS dead - it SHOULD be dead! (say it with me…) Okay Myk, so you say it's about content…right? Yes. But that is NOT enough! If you want to make a significant difference you have to do something significantly different – and that means changing when, how – and by whom – content is made coherent.
Of course, we are now challenging the central role of faculty. But this is good! I would argue that it is not in selecting the textbook, assigning the readings or giving the lectures – where faculty bring their true value to learning – though all of those are important parts of it. It is about the gestalt that the syllabus becomes – it is about zeitgeist of constructing, managing and assuring a coherent, challenging path towards knowledge for each student. And this is where change is needed…Getting away from formal textbooks, rethinking the content thing is good. But remember – we agreed only moments ago that while this will result in incremental increases to the efficiency of our current – and imperiled – models…it will not result in the significantly different, transformational, game-changing, paradigm-shifting, discontinuous and disruptive changes education MUST have to successfully marry cost with quality.I propose, if we are going to realize the decreases in cost and increases in academic achievement (that Carol Twigg and the National Center for Academic Transformation have proven we can achieve) - we are not just going to have to be able to "Teach Different" – we will have to become guides for our students as they
"Learn Different." Let’s take a moment to think about that…Experience with online learning is teaching us powerful new pedagogies, new strategies to increase individualization.
Baker, Hale & Gifford (Educom Review 1997) “compared with students enrolled in conventionally taught courses, students who are provided with regular access to well-crafted computer-mediated instruction generally receive higher scores on summary examinations (improved learning effectiveness), learn their lessons in less time (increased learner efficiency, like their classes more (greater learner engagement), and develop more positive attitudes toward the discipline under inquiry (enhanced learner interest.”WAIT: didn’t we say not significant difference? What about the teacher? Well – teachers ARE important (even critical as we will see) It turns out sot too is “individualization.” When instruction is customized – the learning is increased.The challenge in our current model is that, while individualization is key to increasing student performance while also reducing costs – faculty, in our current model of instruction, can’t individualize for every student. The answer – as Baker, Hale & Gifford imply - is to have students individualize for themselves – using technology - under the mentorship of the faculty.
To Explain what I mean I’d like to use the contrarian example of building the textbook backwards. Instead of faculty assembling the content into a coherent whole PRIOR to the students arriving in the course – the new model of student-directed learning (as described by the Task Force on Psychology in Education of American Psychological Association) would have the students arriving in a course bereft of content, lacking assigned readings, and with the lectures unwritten. Students start the course with nothing but questions.
And the content? It may come from prescribed locations, bastions of approved content, and it might come from anywhere else – and that’s the point…They find it – they create it – they mash it - they share it. Fine, you say. This is not that different from what we do now – this is just portfolio-based learning with another name. And you are right!
Projects like the History Engine at the University of Richmond demonstrate the power and capability of this model quite elegantly…students finding and assembling their own content – fine.But…what about the context?
Well, in this new model (Myk is heretically describing) that's what faculty bring to the room. Instead of prognosticating the course up-front, prescribing the content, predicting the branching and individualized paths to be taken – the instructor brings the questions – the students assemble, critique and compile content into a coherent – INDIVIDUALIZED – learning experience – under the guidance, consultation and critique of the faculty member. Why do I feel so certain this model could work? My learning – derived for years trying to increase faculty use of learning object repositories. Faculty are much more interested in critiquing the work of a colleague – than in adopting it. Their sweet spot is critique – and this model aligns perfectly with that propensity…As a side note, this does raise a most interesting question: can students build a better book than their teacher?
Of course the annoying part is that every student will probably do it different. There will be no standardization – everything will be individualized. Every “textbook” (what we call an ePortfolio today) will be different – significantly. It will be chaos – anarchy…and individually more engaging, effective – and (though we hate the term) more cost-effective – than where we are today… This, I posit, is the true opportunity for academic freedom. Of escaping those 1940-based strictures of “conformity with any orthodoxy of content and method” by allowing both academic freedom for each faculty member while empowering, individualizing and guiding instruction for every learner – differently.
SO – Let’s Wrap up…As Theodore Levitt opined in his 1975 article for the Harvard Business Review "Marketing Myopia" – because railroaders thought their job was to run trains - they failed to realize they were in the transportation business…I would posit to you – the corollary AND the lesson for us in education is: Increasingly the job of faculty is not to stay married to giving great lectures (although great lectures will always be needed) – but to develop new models of learning that engage and guide eager minds to greatness.
It is clear that we must embrace change to meet the challenge of cost. And who but faculty are most able to make this significant difference a reality? With great freedom comes great effort -the need for great creativity – and most of all – the courage to make bold choices…Hopefully I have been sufficiently dissonant in my cognitive diatribe today – that you will take these propositions and admonitions to heart…BUT: just to be sure – let’s end with a short homily on deck chairs…
An intriguing question posed by our ongoing economic struggles is: Is Education too big to fail? Of course not…But just in case – like with big ships – it is always good to have some life preservers and life boats hanging around. Unless you think your ship is too big to sink…Photo taken April 10, 1912 by Father Frank Brown taken during the Titanic's passage from Southampton to Ireland – before its meeting with an iceberg at 2:00 am on the 15th.So about the deck chairs – they were fine for the environment the passengers knew - sitting on a dry deck in their grand ship of state
The danger is – when your ship is breached and your environment is rapidly turning liquid – that we don’t think out of the boxGo with me on this…Like a textbook whose core material is content – deck chairs, made of wood, could be broken down and reassembled into boats for the new ocean environment…you are about to enter. Though admittedly - sufficient amounts of Gorilla Glue and NACSAR 200 mile an hour tape would be needed…And - if you are trying to be efficient building these new deck chair boats - you don't wait for the captain to do it all himself -everyone pitches in and builds...you mass customize your way to the next shore…SO: The next time you think about a textbook – think about the deck chairs on the Titanic – what are you going to be doing with them when your world changes?
Significant Differences Using Content, Creativity and Courage in the Face of Disruptive Change
Myk’s Career Correlated, Causal or Just Chaotic? Myk works for Eastman Kodak Company Myk joins Southern Regional Education Board Myk joins Kentucky Virtual University Myk works for American & General Motors US Gross Domestic Product Bureau of Economic Analysis
Change is in the Legislature…Title “Higher education faculty and staff members [need] to consider the least costly practices in assigning instructional materials for a course…” HB 2103 Section 3218 Oklahoma Legislature, 2007
The Race to Zero is On!First One There Wins…What? “The textbook industry will never reinvent itself…since legacy cultures and business models die hard. It will be up to scholars and students to do this collectively.” Tapscott & Williams EDUCAUSE Review 2010
The Race Continues “Universities are losing their grip on higher learning as the Internet is, inexorably, becoming the dominant infrastructure for knowledge…” Tapscott & Williams EDUCAUSE Review 2010
Freedom or Turpitude? “If institutions want to survive the arrival of free, university-level education online, they need to change...” Tapscott & Williams EDUCAUSE Review 2010
Active EngagementSharable Content Object Repositories for Education SCORE Metadata Digital Content Workshops Policies for Sharing Content Expectation of Sharing April 2010
Beyond this Point… “At every crossway on the road that leads to the future each progressive spirit is opposed by a thousand men appointed to guard the past” Maurice Maeterlinck Belgian Nobel Laureate
1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure “A college or university is a marketplace of ideas, and it cannot fulfill its purposes of transmitting, evaluating, and extending knowledge if it requires conformity with any orthodoxy of content and method.”
FacundiaPosterusFaculty of the Future “Don’t be afraid to fail… failure often opens up doors to success.” John Krutsch
Change velExsistoMortuusChange…or Else! “I think technology has created the greatest productivity improvement in history over the past 20 years across every segment of our society – except in education.” Robert Mendenhall Western Governors University October 25, 2007 (EDUCAUSE)
Changing Everything…Sort of “The real value of what [the campus] offers is not the lecture per se but rather the whole package – the content tied to the human learning experience on campus…Colleges and universities cannot survive on lectures alone.” Tapscott & Williams EDUCAUSE Review 2010
Who Customizes for the Masses?The Masses. “When educators shift from mass production to mass customization of student’s learning, outcomes improve.” Tapscott & Williams EDUCAUSE Review 2010
DRIVEN TitleTitle The Learner-Centered Psychological Principles Cognitive & Meta-cognitive Factors Nature of the Learning Process Goals of the Learning Process Construction of Knowledge Strategic Thinking Thinking about Thinking Context of Learning Motivational & Affective Factors Motivational & Emotional Influences Intrinsic Motivation to Learn Effects of Motivation to Learn Developmental & Social Factors Developmental Influence on Learning Social Influences on Learning Individual Differences Factors Individual Differences in Learning Learning and Diversity Standards and Assessment 32 APA Work Group of the Board of Educational Affairs (November, 1997)
Too Big to Sink… “Businesses do die, even big ones.” Leslie Hannah London School of Economics Learning by Doing in Markets Firms and Countries
One Last Thought… …each of us has known mutations in the mind When the world jumped and what had been a plan Dissolved and rivers gushed from what had seemed a pool. For every static world that you or I impose Upon the real one must crack at times and new Patterns from new disorders open like a rose Mutations Louis MacNeice
Significant Differences Using Content, Creativity and Courage in the Face of Disruptive Change