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A brief on transformation in higher
education
Dr Mark Nichols, PFHEA
Executive Director Learning Design & Development
Open Polytechnic New Zealand
Mark.Nichols@openpolytechnic.ac.nz
Why no transformation?
1. The dynamic of the qualified specialist. We treat higher education as if
it is limited to the productivity of a qualified specialist.
2. No crisis of demand. Enrolments remain high, as demand for higher
education continues to grow.
3. Supply-side adoption. Technology is applied to higher education, but
mainly in ways that suit the university.
4. High barriers to entry. It is difficult for new competitors to develop the
brand and quality reputations they need to disrupt incumbent practice.
5. Systematic inertia. Achieving all that might be achieved requires changes
to funding and operating practices that are too complex to change.
Challenging the barriers
1. The dynamic of the qualified specialist. What if we assumed the
qualified specialist was part of an education system, not central to it?
2. No crisis of demand. What if we sought to meet all demand through a
new system, rather than assuming current ways of doing things?
3. Supply-side adoption. What if we thought about the education
experience from the real-life, learner perspective?
4. High barriers to entry. What if we sought to compete with ourselves,
from a true student-centred focus?
5. Systematic inertia. What if we had ways of changing ourselves such that
we better worked within existing quality and funding systems?
Digital distance education (DDE)
• Enriching university education
through digital possibilities
• NOT blended or hybrid; a distance
starting point
• Focus on learning activity design,
with an asynchronous bias
• A systems-enabled approach
• Based on education
Main points
1. There are five main reasons why technology has not transformed
education.
2. The need for better distribution of face-to-face education is not one
of them, so –
3. the recent pandemic will not result in lasting transformation.
4. Transformation is desirable to improve access and flexibility; reduce
cost; and add value to the student experience.
5. Transformation involves systematic change – which is difficult!

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Mark Nichols: A brief on transformation in higher education

  • 1.
  • 2. A brief on transformation in higher education Dr Mark Nichols, PFHEA Executive Director Learning Design & Development Open Polytechnic New Zealand Mark.Nichols@openpolytechnic.ac.nz
  • 3. Why no transformation? 1. The dynamic of the qualified specialist. We treat higher education as if it is limited to the productivity of a qualified specialist. 2. No crisis of demand. Enrolments remain high, as demand for higher education continues to grow. 3. Supply-side adoption. Technology is applied to higher education, but mainly in ways that suit the university. 4. High barriers to entry. It is difficult for new competitors to develop the brand and quality reputations they need to disrupt incumbent practice. 5. Systematic inertia. Achieving all that might be achieved requires changes to funding and operating practices that are too complex to change.
  • 4. Challenging the barriers 1. The dynamic of the qualified specialist. What if we assumed the qualified specialist was part of an education system, not central to it? 2. No crisis of demand. What if we sought to meet all demand through a new system, rather than assuming current ways of doing things? 3. Supply-side adoption. What if we thought about the education experience from the real-life, learner perspective? 4. High barriers to entry. What if we sought to compete with ourselves, from a true student-centred focus? 5. Systematic inertia. What if we had ways of changing ourselves such that we better worked within existing quality and funding systems?
  • 5. Digital distance education (DDE) • Enriching university education through digital possibilities • NOT blended or hybrid; a distance starting point • Focus on learning activity design, with an asynchronous bias • A systems-enabled approach • Based on education
  • 6. Main points 1. There are five main reasons why technology has not transformed education. 2. The need for better distribution of face-to-face education is not one of them, so – 3. the recent pandemic will not result in lasting transformation. 4. Transformation is desirable to improve access and flexibility; reduce cost; and add value to the student experience. 5. Transformation involves systematic change – which is difficult!