Reflections on “Clay Shirky on Mega-Universities and Scale” [Christian]

Clay Shirky on Mega-Universities and Scale — from philonedtech.com by Clay Shirky
[This was a guest post by Clay Shirky that grew out of a conversation that Clay and Phil had about IPEDS enrollment data. Most of the graphs are provided by Phil.]

Excerpts:

Were half a dozen institutions to dominate the online learning landscape with no end to their expansion, or shift what Americans seek in a college degree, that would indeed be one of the greatest transformations in the history of American higher education. The available data, however, casts doubt on that idea.

Though much of the conversation around mega-universities is speculative, we already know what a mega-university actually looks like, one much larger than any university today. It looks like the University of Phoenix, or rather it looked like Phoenix at the beginning of this decade, when it had 470,000 students, the majority of whom took some or all of their classes online. Phoenix back then was six times the size of the next-largest school, Kaplan, with 78,000 students, and nearly five times the size of any university operating today.

From that high-water mark, Phoenix has lost an average of 40,000 students every year of this decade.

 

From DSC:
First of all, I greatly appreciate both Clay’s and Phil’s thought leadership and their respective contributions to education and learning through the years. I value their perspectives and their work.  Clay and Phil offer up a great article here — one worth your time to read.  

The article made me reflect on what I’ve been building upon and tracking for the last decade — a next generation ***PLATFORM*** that I believe will represent a powerful piece of a global learning ecosystem. I call this vision, “Learning from the Living [Class] Room.” Though the artificial intelligence-backed platform that I’m envisioning doesn’t yet fully exist — this new era and type of learning-based platform ARE coming. The emerging signs, technologies, trends — and “fingerprints”of it, if you will — are beginning to develop all over the place.

Such a platform will:

  • Be aimed at the lifelong learner.
  • Offer up major opportunities to stay relevant and up-to-date with one’s skills.
  • Offer access to the program offerings from many organizations — including the mega-universities, but also, from many other organizations that are not nearly as large as the mega-universities.
  • Be reliant upon human teachers, professors, trainers, subject matter experts, but will be backed up by powerful AI-based technologies/tools. For example, AI-based tools will pulse-check the open job descriptions and the needs of business and present the top ___ areas to go into (how long those areas/jobs last is anyone’s guess, given the exponential pace of technological change).

Below are some quotes that I want to comment on:

Not nothing, but not the kind of environment that will produce an educational Amazon either, especially since the top 30 actually shrank by 0.2% a year.

 

Instead of an “Amazon vs. the rest” dynamic, online education is turning into something much more widely adopted, where the biggest schools are simply the upper end of a continuum, not so different from their competitors, and not worth treating as members of a separate category.

 

Since the founding of William and Mary, the country’s second college, higher education in the U.S. hasn’t been a winner-take-all market, and it isn’t one today. We are not entering a world where the largest university operates at outsized scale, we’re leaving that world; 

 

From DSC:
I don’t see us leaving that world at all…but that’s not my main reflection here. Instead, I’m not focusing on how large the mega-universities will become. When I speak of a forthcoming Walmart of Education or Amazon of Education, what I have in mind is a platform…not one particular organization.

Consider that the vast majority of Amazon’s revenues come from products that other organizations produce. They are a platform, if you will. And in the world of platforms (i.e., software), it IS a winner take all market. 

Bill Gates reflects on this as well in this recent article from The Verge:

“In the software world, particularly for platforms, these are winner-take-all markets.

So it’s all about a forthcoming platform — or platforms. (It could be more than one platform. Consider Apple. Consider Microsoft. Consider Google. Consider Facebook.)

But then the question becomes…would a large amount of universities (and other types of organizations) be willing to offer up their courses on a platform? Well, consider what’s ALREADY happening with FutureLearn:

Finally…one more excerpt from Clay’s article:

Eventually the new ideas lose their power to shock, and end up being widely copied. Institutional transformation starts as heresy and ends as a section in the faculty handbook. 

From DSC:
This is a great point. Reminds me of this tweet from Fred Steube (and I added a piece about Western Telegraph):

 

Some things to reflect upon…for sure.

 

“Access to Justice” – the first open access issue of Dædalus — from amacad.org

Excerpt:

“Access to Justice” – the first open access issue of Dædalus – features twenty-four essays that examine the national crisis in civil legal services facing poor and low-income Americans: from the challenges of providing quality legal assistance to more people, to the social and economic costs of an often unresponsive legal system, to the opportunities for improvement offered by new technologies, professional innovations, and fresh ways of thinking about the crisis.

 

To attract talent, corporations turn to MOOCs — from edsurge.com by by Wade Tyler Millward

Excerpt:

When executives at tech giants Salesforce and Microsoft decided in fall 2017 to turn to an online education platform to help train potential users of products for their vendors, they turned to Pierre Dubuc and his team in fall 2017.

Two years later, Dubuc’s company, OpenClassrooms, has closed deals with both of them. Salesforce has worked with OpenClassrooms to create and offer a developer-training course to help people learn how to use the Salesforce platform. In a similar vein, Microsoft will use the OpenClassrooms platform for a six-month course in artificial intelligence. If students complete the AI program, they are guaranteed a job within six months or get their money back. They also earn masters-level diploma accredited in Europe.

 

 

With flip of a giant ceremonial switch, CMU starts effort to energize ‘learning engineering’ — from edsurge.com by Jeff Young

Excerpt:

Pittsburgh, PA—For a moment this week, the provost of Carnegie Mellon University looked a bit like a game show host as he grabbed the lever of an oversized switch and called on an audience to join him in a countdown—“5, 4, 3, 2, 1.” Then, he toggled the cardboard lever and declared open a new website, one that gave away software that took more than $100 million in grant funding to develop.

It was an unusually theatrical moment for a gathering to announce the release of software tools to help professors improve their teaching. But the organizers were playfully acknowledging the size of their project’s ambition—which they hope will spark a more data-driven and experimental approach to teaching at colleges around the country. And the flair was fitting, since success will end up being based not so much on how well the software works, but on how well its creators can attract momentum to their cause—and change the culture of the academic profession to make teaching an area professors are excited to make discoveries around.

Plenty of others have tried in the past to bring the principles of engineering to college teaching, though with limited success. In fact, the effort at Carnegie Mellon is named for Herbert Simon, a longtime professor at Carnegie Mellon who won a Nobel Prize in economics and devoted his energy and academic capital to trying to spread his ideas about turning teaching from a solo sport to a team effort. But it didn’t catch on widely in his lifetime.

 

From DSC:

…and devoted his energy and academic capital to trying to spread his ideas about turning teaching from a solo sport to a team effort. But it didn’t catch on widely in his lifetime.

Why do you supposed getting faculty members to use a team-based approach is so difficult? We really need to look at that, especially if institutions of higher education are going to keep increasing how much it costs to take courses at their schools — and all the while placing the emphasis on research…not teaching.

Like using an indexing fund in investing — vs. a hand-picked set of stocks — a team-based approach will be more effective the majority of the time. How can it not? There are simply too many skillsets/interests needed, especially as teaching and learning continues to move more online.

 

“Learning by doing appears to have a 6x better [outcome] than learning by watching or reading,” Koedinger said. He and his colleagues published an academic paper with the finding called Learning is Not a Spectator Sport.

 

Also see:

 

 

Higher Education’s 2019 Trend Watch & Top 10 Strategic Technologies — from EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR)

Most Influential Trends

  • Growing complexity of security threats
  • Student success focus/imperatives
  • Data-driven decision-making
  • Increasing complexity of technology, architecture, and data
  • Contributions of IT to institutional operational excellence
  • Each of these trends is influential at 63% or more of colleges and universities. And, they are enduring—these are the same trends that exerted the most influence on IT strategy in 2018.

 

 

Learning and Student Success: Presenting the Results of the 2019 Key Issues Survey — from er.educause.edu by Malcolm Brown

Excerpts:

Here are some results that caught (Malcolm’s) eye, with a few speculations tossed in:

  • The issue of faculty development reclaimed the top spot.
  • Academic transformation, previously a consistent top-three finisher, took a tumble in 2019 down to 10th.
  • After falling to 16th last year, the issue of competency-based education and new methods of learning assessment jumped up to 6th for 2019.
  • The issues of accessibility and universal design for learning (UDL) and of digital and information literacy held more or less steady.
  • Online and blended learning has rebounded significantly.

 

 

 

6 key trends to 21st century teaching — from edsurge.com

Excerpt:

It’s popular these days to complain that college teaching hasn’t changed in hundreds of years. And sure, it’s possible to find some professors on any campus holding yellowed lecture notes, or clinging to dusty chalk. But the reality is that the internet and digital technologies have already brought profound changes to instructional styles and tools in higher education.

So what are the new teaching approaches catching on at today’s campuses? And what are the broader cultural changes around college teaching?

We set out to answer those questions over the past year, with a series of articles and interviews exploring what teaching in the 21st century looks like. Some show the nuances of the challenges of teaching with technology by telling stories of innovative professors, including how a water agency official who teaches an online community college course got started in creating open educational resources when her class was incorporated into a zero-cost textbook degree program. Others dive into research on the culture of teaching, like a talk with an anthropologist studying how professors react to (and sometimes resist) research on teaching practices.

 

 

 

Caselaw Access Project (CAP) Launches API and Bulk Data Service — from the Library Innovation Lab at the Harvard Law School Library by Kelly Fitzpatrick

Excerpt:

[On 10/29/18] the Library Innovation Lab at the Harvard Law School Library is excited to announce the launch of its Caselaw Access Project (CAP) API and bulk data service, which puts the full corpus of published U.S. case law online for anyone to access for free.

Between 2013 and 2018, the Library digitized over 40 million pages of U.S. court decisions, transforming them into a dataset covering almost 6.5 million individual cases. The CAP API and bulk data service puts this important dataset within easy reach of researchers, members of the legal community and the general public.

To learn more about the project, the data and how to use the API and bulk data service, please visit case.law.

 

 

Also see:

 

 

 

Where teachers can find free audiobooks for their students — from thetechedvocate.org by Matthew Lynch

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Audiobooks are fantastic ways to bring stories to life in your classroom and keep students engaged. Reading Rockets explains, “Audiobooks have traditionally been used in schools by teachers of second-language learners, learning-disabled students, and struggling readers or nonreaders. In many cases, audiobooks have proven successful in providing a way for these students to access literature and enjoy books.” However, educators have found that audiobooks benefit all students!

Unfortunately, audiobooks are pricey, so you should not expect your students to have them at home. You should also not plan on spending large amounts of money to build your audiobook collection for your classroom. For instance, the widely popular Audible site for downloadable audiobooks is a subscription-based service, but it only allows you to choose one book per month. Instead, take advantage of the wealth of free audiobooks available for teachers and students.

 

 

Educause Releases 2018 Horizon Report Preview — from campustechnology.com by Rhea Kelly

Excerpt:

After acquiring the rights to the New Media Consortium’s Horizon project earlier this year, Educause has now published a preview of the 2018 Higher Education Edition of the Horizon Report — research that was in progress at the time of NMC’s sudden dissolution. The report covers the key technology trends, challenges and developments expected to impact higher ed in the short-, mid- and long-term future.

 

Also see:

 

 

 

 

Michelle Weise: ‘We Need to Design the Learning Ecosystem of the Future’ — from edsurge.com  by Michelle Weise

Excerpts:

These days, education reformers, evangelists and foundations pay a lot of lip service to the notion of lifelong learning, but we do little to invest in the systems, architecture and infrastructure needed to facilitate seamless movements in and out of learning and work.

Talk of lifelong learning doesn’t translate into action. In fact, resources and funding are often geared toward the traditional 17- to 22-year-old college-going population and less often to working adults, our growing new-traditional student population.

We’ll need a different investment thesis: For most adults, taking time off work to attend classes at a local, brick-and-mortar community college or a four-year institution will not be the answer. The opportunity costs will be too high. Our current system of traditional higher education is ill-suited to facilitate flexible, seamless cost-effective learning pathways for these students to keep up with the emergent demands of the workforce.

Many adults may have no interest in coming back to college. Out of the 37 million Americans with some college and no degree, many have already failed one or twice before and will be wholly uninterested in experiencing more educational trauma.We can’t just say, “Here’s a MOOC, or here’s an online degree, or a 6- to 12-week immersive bootcamp.”

 

We have to do better. Let’s begin seeding the foundational elements of a learning ecosystem of the future—flexible enough for adults to move consistently in and out of learning and work. Enough talk about lifelong learning: Let’s build the foundations of that learning ecosystem of the future.

 

 

From DSC:
I couldn’t agree more with Michelle that we need a new learning ecosystem of the future. In fact, I have been calling such an effort “Learning from the Living [Class] Room — and it outlines a next generation learning platform that aims to deliver everything Michelle talks about in her solid article out at edsurge.com.

The Living [Class] Room -- by Daniel Christian -- July 2012 -- a second device used in conjunction with a Smart/Connected TV

 

Along these lines…I just saw that Amazon is building out more cashierless stores (and Walmart is also at work on introducing more cashierless stores.) Now, let’s say that you are currently a cashier. 2-5 years from now (depending upon where you’re currently working and which stores are in your community), what are you going to do? The opportunities for such a position will be fewer and fewer. Who can help you do what Michelle mentioned here:

Working learners will also need help articulating their learning goals and envisioning a future for themselves. People don’t know how to translate their skills from one industry to another. How does a student begin to understand that 30% of what they already know could be channeled into a totally different and potentially promising pathway they never even knew was within reach?

And that cashier may have had a tough time with K-12 education and/or with higher education. As Michelle writes:

Many adults may have no interest in coming back to college. Out of the 37 million Americans with some college and no degree, many have already failed one or twice before and will be wholly uninterested in experiencing more educational trauma. We can’t just say, “Here’s a MOOC, or here’s an online degree, or a 6- to 12-week immersive bootcamp.”

And like the cashier in this example…we are quickly approaching an era where, I believe, many of us will need to reinvent ourselves in order to:

  • stay marketable
  • keep bread and butter on the table
  • continue to have a sense of purpose and meaning in our lives

Higher ed, if it wants to remain relevant, must pick up the pace of experimentation and increase the willingness to innovate, and to develop new business models — to develop new “learning channels” so to speak. Such channels need to be:

  • Up-to-date
  • Serving relevant data and information– especially regarding the job market and which jobs appear to be safe for the next 5-10 years
  • Inexpensive/affordable
  • Highly convenient

 

 

 

OER Adoptions on the Rise — from insidehighered.com by Lindsay McKenzie
The number of faculty members choosing open educational resources over traditional textbooks has nearly doubled in the last year, but awareness over all remains low.

Excerpt:

More and more instructors are choosing open educational resources over traditional textbooks, a survey of more than 2,700 faculty members reveals.

The “Opening the Textbook” survey, published by the Babson Survey Research Group today, reports that the number of faculty members at two- and four-year institutions using OER as textbooks has nearly doubled in the last year — from 5 percent in 2015-16 to 9 percent in 2016-17.

Awareness of OER — openly licensed and freely accessible teaching and learning materials — has also increased. Twenty-nine percent of faculty described themselves as “aware” or “very aware” of OER this year, up from 25 percent last year and 20 percent the year before. The proportion that reported they had never heard of OER fell from 66 percent in 2014-15 to 56 percent this year.

But while increases in adoption and awareness have been significant, Jeff Seaman, co-director of the Babson Survey Research Group, points out that over all, awareness of OER is still low. He noted that many faculty members also continue to report significant barriers to wider adoption of OER, particularly finding and evaluating the quality of materials.

 

 


Also see:


 

 

 

 

 

 

Innovating Pedagogy 2017 — from iet.open.ac.uk

Excerpt:

This series of reports explores new forms of teaching, learning and assessment for an interactive world, to guide teachers and policy makers in productive innovation. This sixth report proposes ten innovations that are already in currency but have not yet had a profound influence on education. To produce it, a group of academics at the Institute of Educational Technology in The Open University collaborated with researchers from the Learning In a NetworKed Society (LINKS) Israeli Center of Research Excellence (I-CORE). We proposed a long list of new educational terms, theories, and practices. We then pared these down to ten that have the potential to provoke major shifts in educational practice, particularly in secondary and tertiary education. Lastly, we drew on published and unpublished writings to compile the ten sketches of new pedagogies that might transform education. These are summarised below in an approximate order of immediacy and timescale to widespread implementation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Excerpt:

Artificial Intelligence has leapt to the forefront of global discourse, garnering increased attention from practitioners, industry leaders, policymakers, and the general public. The diversity of opinions and debates gathered from news articles this year illustrates just how broadly AI is being investigated, studied, and applied. However, the field of AI is still evolving rapidly and even experts have a hard time understanding and tracking progress across the field.

Without the relevant data for reasoning about the state of AI technology, we are essentially “flying blind” in our conversations and decision-making related to AI.

Created and launched as a project of the One Hundred Year Study on AI at Stanford University (AI100), the AI Index is an open, not-for-profit project to track activity and progress in AI. It aims to facilitate an informed conversation about AI that is grounded in data. This is the inaugural annual report of the AI Index, and in this report we look at activity and progress in Artificial Intelligence through a range of perspectives. We aggregate data that exists freely on the web, contribute original data, and extract new metrics from combinations of data series.

All of the data used to generate this report will be openly available on the AI Index website at aiindex.org. Providing data, however, is just the beginning. To become truly useful, the AI Index needs support from a larger community. Ultimately, this report is a call for participation. You have the ability to provide data, analyze collected data, and make a wish list of what data you think needs to be tracked. Whether you have answers or questions to provide, we hope this report inspires you to reach out to the AI Index and become part of the effort to ground the conversation about AI.

 

 

 

How to be an ed tech futurist — from campustechnology.com by Bryan Alexander
While no one can predict the future, these forecasting methods will help you anticipate trends and spur more collaborative thinking.

Excerpts:

Some of the forecasting methods Bryan mentions are:

  • Trend analysis
  • Environmental scanning
  • Scenarios
  • Science fiction

 

 

 

 

From DSC:
I greatly appreciate the work that Bryan does — the topics that he chooses to write about, his analyses, comments, and questions are often thought-provoking. I couldn’t agree more with Bryan’s assertion that forecasting needs to become more realized/practiced within higher education. This is especially true given the exponential rate of change that many societies throughout the globe are now experiencing.

We need to be pulse-checking a variety of landscapes out there, to identify and put significant trends, forces, and emerging technologies on our radars. The strategy of identifying potential scenarios – and then developing responses to those potential scenarios — is very wise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!

© 2019 | Daniel Christian