From DSC:, an excellent resource, now uses digital playlists.

Here’s an idea.  How about, in the future, students will be able to run through a series of digital playlists:

  • Focusing on a particular topic and/or a course from:
    • A particular college or university
    • A consortium of colleges and universities
    • A group of approved subject matter experts

If and when a person gets stumped — and the artificial intelligence has reached the end of its usefulness — provide a way for that student to connect with a TA, a professor, the subject matter expert, and/or with other students.


College branding: The tipping point — from by Roger Dooley


Change is coming to this market. While there are multiple issues of increasing importance to schools, two stand out as major game-changers.


From DSC:
Important notes for the boards throughout higher education to consider:

Your institution can’t increase tuition by one dime next year. If you do, you will become more and more vulnerable to being disrupted. Instead, work very hard to go in the exact opposite direction. Find ways to discount tuition by 50% or more — that is, if you want to stay in business.

Sounds like the scene in Apollo 13, doesn’t it? It is. (i.e. as Tom Hanks character is trying to get back to Earth and has very little to do it with. The engineers back in the United States are called upon to “do the impossible.”)

Some possibilities:

  • Pick your business partners and begin pooling resources and forming stronger consortia. Aim to reduce operating expenses, share the production of high-quality/interactive online courses, and create new streams of income. Experimentation will be key.
  • Work with IBM, Apple, Knewton and the like to create/integrate artificial intelligence into your LMS/CMS in order to handle 80% of the questions/learning issues. (Most likely, the future of MOOCs involves this very sort of thing.)
  • Find ways to create shorter courses/modules and offer them via online-based exchanges/marketplaces.  But something’s bothering me with this one..perhaps we won’t have the time to develop high-quality, interactive, multimedia-based courses…are things moving too fast?
  • Find ways to develop and offer subscription-based streams of content


UK universities forge open online courses alliance: FutureLearn Consortium will offer uni-branded MOOCs starting next year — by Natasha Lomas


Today’s [12/13/12] news means even more MOOCs will be offered next year, as 12 UK universities are getting together to form a new company that will offer the online courses — under the brand name of FutureLearn Ltd. The universities are: Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, East Anglia, Exeter, King’s College London, LancasterLeedsSouthamptonSt Andrews and Warwick, along with UK distance-learning organization The Open University (OU).


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From Boardroom to Classroom — from by Alexandra Tilsley


By joining forces, the three universities hope to leverage the languages they don’t all have, affording students more options, and to deepen existing programs by, for example, facilitating collaboration between instructors of the same language at different institutions.



From DSC:
Higher-level courses at smaller colleges might want to look at this as well.  If an economically-feasible minimum threshold can’t be reached on one campus, open it up to a consortium of institutions (similar to Semester Online).



New consortium of leading universities will move forward with transformative, for-credit online education program — from
Semester Online™ will be first of its kind featuring rigorous, innovative, live courses

Excerpt (emphasis DSC)

LANDOVER, Md. — Nov. 15, 2012 — Today, a group of the nation’s leading universities announced plans to launch a new, innovative program that transforms the model of online education. Consortium members include Brandeis University, Duke University, Emory University, Northwestern University, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Notre Dame, University of Rochester, Vanderbilt University, Wake Forest University and Washington University in St. Louis. The new online education program, Semester Online,will be the first of its kind to offer undergraduate students the opportunity to take rigorous, online courses for credit from a consortium of universities. The program is delivered through a virtual classroom environment and interactive platform developed by 2U, formerly known as 2tor.


From DSC:
Interesting to see the impact of competition…



Addendum on 11/16/12:

Elite Online Courses for Cash and Credit— from by Steve Kolowich


A consortium of 10 top-tier universities will soon offer fully online, credit-bearing undergraduate courses through a partnership with 2U, a company that facilitates online learning.

Any students enrolled at an “undergraduate experience anywhere in the world” will be eligible to take the courses, according to Chip Paucek, the CEO of 2U, which until recently was called 2tor. The first courses are slated to make their debut in the fall.

After a year in which the top universities in the world have clambered to offer massive open online courses (MOOCs) for no credit, this new project marks yet another turning point in online education. It is the first known example of top universities offering fully online, credit-bearing courses to undergraduates who are not actually enrolled at the institutions that are offering them.


From DSC:
It’s not a stretch to think that we’ll soon be able to take part in this type of thing from our living rooms…

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



Also relevant here/see:
Attend the Global Education Conference
from your living room

Addendum on 11/19/12:

A liberal-arts consortium experiments with course sharing — from The Chronicle by Jeff Selingo — 4/4/12

But advances in technology can now link together institutions that are separated by thousands of miles. An experiment by a group of 16 liberal-arts colleges and universities in the South might serve as the blueprint for other small institutions looking for ways to maintain a core of academic programs but offer enough variety to attract students.

The initiative will get its start in the fall with a half dozen to a dozen courses at four institutions that have committed so far to the classroom technology, which costs upwards of $250,000. In an effort to maintain the feel of small liberal-arts classes, professors on the home campus of a course will teach in a classroom outfitted with conference capabilities and students on other campuses will take part in real-time, synchronous discussions.

From DSC:
Also see:



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Comprehensive report regarding online learning in Austrialia - April 2011

Originally saw this at
one of Stephen Downes’ blogs



In particular, the report outlines the operations of two significant distance-learning institutes in Australia:

  • Open Universities Australia (OUA), a consortium of universities providing distance-learning opportunities for students across Australia.
  • eWorks, focusing on Technical and Further Education (TAFE), equivalent to college education level courses.

This report outlines unique features and best practices of both organizations, details specific roles within the organizations, and explores options for potential collaborations and project partnerships.

Open Universities Australia (OUA), a $70 million for-profit consortium which originated in 1992 with Federal Government funding, is now fully funded from student fees and projected to double in growth in the near term. 70% of students receive financial aid. As a consortium, it relies on the reputation of its constituent members. The board, comprised of participating university chancellors and independent directors from the professional workforce which includes an academic committee, governs the introduction and quality of programs and vets new providers. Most course work is delivered asynchronously with increasing progression towards synchronicity. Demand (rather than supply) drives new courses which are offered to complement existing courses in accordance with market forces. More than $1 million is available to aid in development of online delivery of existing face-to-face courses.

eWorks, a support service of The Australian Flexible Learning Framework (AFLF) develops (rather than delivers) content, based on nationally mandated curriculum competencies for the Vocation Education and Training sector (VET) sector, and coordinates access to existing vendor products into a single environment, generated from a single platform. Standardization of both learning objects and formats for storage and accessibility resulted in a federated search engine: the Learning Object Repository Network (LORN). Success of LORN relies on standards compliance by each state and territory.


[iNACOL] Lessons learned from virtual schools: Experiences & recommendations from the field

GLENDALE, Ariz., Nov. 15, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) announced the release of its first published book: Lessons Learned from Virtual Schools: Experiences and Recommendations from the Field at the annual Virtual School Symposium (VSS) today. The book was edited by Cathy Cavanaugh and Rick Ferdig.

According to Ferdig, “K-12 Virtual Schools are an important part of our 21st century educational system. This book captures the successes and lessons of leaders from some of the most experienced state-led and consortium-based virtual schools in the nation. Readers will get advice and strategies on everything from teacher professional development to data management.”

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An island no more: A game-changing application suite for LMS — from by Trent Batson

…a “Google Analytics” for the LMS.

…perhaps the most revolutionary aspect of plugjam, allowing both students and teachers to intelligently search open educational resources (OERs) maintained by Merlot and 10 colleges and universities through the new OER Global Consortium inspired and supported by MERLOT, including Johns Hopkins, MIT, Notre Dame, The Open University, Universidad Politecnica de Madrid, Stanford University, Delft University, University of Massachusetts Boston, The University of Tokyo, and Yale University. Other institutions offer additional OERs, such as Carnegie Mellon, Rice, and others.

…essentially allowing faculty and students to create a portal with a live instantiation of the LMS interface on the same page as social software and other functionalities, literally putting your LMS into the social Web.

Why is all this important? The campus book library of 10 years ago has changed radically: It is now augmented (and perhaps surpassed) by the library on the Web, more easily searched, portable to any Web site, and potentially a broader-based, more up-to-date set of resources than was ever available before to the campus community. With many more Web academic resources becoming available everyday and the LMS, with plugjam, capable of becoming its own “lending library,” each course can be content-rich beyond imagination.

The world changed, colleges missed it — from by Tom Vander Ark

A bunch of colleges are going out of business, only they don’t know it. They pretend that trimming costs and jacking tuition is a solution.  They haven’t come to terms with a world where anyone can learn anything almost anywhere for free or cheap. Art Levine, Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, sees three major change forces: new competition, a convergence of knowledge producers, and changing demographics.

To Art’s list of three big change forces, add shrinking government support, the press for more accountability, and emerging technology…the next few decades will be marked by a lumpy move to competency-based learninginstant information and the ability to learn anything anywhere.

The shift to personal digital learning is on.  Some colleges get that.  Others will seek bailouts until they go out of business.  Working adults are getting smart on their own terms.


From DSC:
Time will tell if Tom’s assertions are too harsh here, but personally, I think he’s right.

I have it that:

  • There is a bubble in higher ed
  • There also exists a perfect storm that’s been forming for years within higher ed and the waves are cresting
    .The perfect storm in higher ed -- by Daniel S. Christian

  • Institutions of higher education need to check themselves before they become the next Blockbuster
    .Do not underestimate the disruptive impact of technology -- June 2009

  • We must not discount the disruptive powers of technology nor the trends taking place today (for a list of some of these trends, see the work of Gary Marx, as well as Yankelovish’s (2005) Ferment and Change: Higher Education in 2015)
  • Innovation is not an option for those who want to survive and thrive in the future.

Specifically, I have it that we should be experimenting with:

  • Significantly lowering the price of getting an education (by 50%+)
  • Providing greater access (worldwide)
  • Offering content in as many different ways as we can afford to produce
  • Seeking to provide interactive, multimedia-based content that is created by teams of specialists — for anytime, anywhere, on any-device type of learning (24x7x365)at any pace!
  • “Breaking down the walls” of the physical classroom
  • Pooling resources and creating consortiums
  • Reflecting on what it will mean if online-based exchanges are setup to help folks develop competencies
  • Working to change our cultures to be more willing to innovate and change
  • Thinking about how to become more nimble as organizations
  • Turning more control over to individual learner and having them create the content
  • Creating and implementing more cross-disciplinary assignments



ASU partners with Pearson to expand online learning services — from
Partnership will enhance the online student experience and reach new students

Arizona State University (ASU) and Pearson today announced an innovative partnership to develop new technology and management services to support ASU’s online students. The agreement will equip ASU with various capabilities designed to maximize learning outcomes through student engagement and retention, as well as increase overall course offerings. It will enable the university to reach potential students around the country who are not served by brick and mortar or other online institutions.

“When it comes to learning online, there is a direct correlation between quality services and student success,” said Philip Regier, Executive Vice Provost and Dean of ASU Online. “The reality is that learning online is very demanding and most students already have family and work responsibilities. The more support they receive, the better their learning outcomes and overall experience will be.”

From DSC:
With the pace of technological innovation and the costs involved in creating engaging, interactive, multimedia-based materials, it seems that such pooling of resources is wise, efficient. That is why I’m a fan of
consortiums and pooling resources. This type of thing also quickly brings TEAMS of people together.

How long does it take to create learning? (2010 Research) — from by Bryan Chapman

Bryan Chapman reports on the number of hours it takes to create 1 hour of ____ training


From DSC:
I have it that in the near future, it will take a team of specialists to create and deliver effective learning content that is able to engage folks (the for-profits, as we’ve seen, are already doing this).  No doubt this takes time and money. That is why, within the world of higher ed, I think the use of pooling resources and expanding the use of consortiums might take off;  and/or…perhaps there will be more contributions to open source alternatives…I’m not sure. But this report shows that it can take a significant amount of time to create the content.

The important thing for the online world here is to leverage these efforts again and again and again. The more times that a course is used/taken, the ROI goes up and the cost per delivery goes down.

Michigan colleges create joint film institute

Michigan colleges create joint film institute — Kim Kozlowski / The Detroit News
Wayne State, U-M, Michigan State to launch 8-week summer program

Nearly two dozen students gathered Wednesday to participate in a program with the state’s three largest universities to drive Michigan’s burgeoning film industry, Gov. Jennifer Granholm announced.

The 2010 Creative Film Alliance Summer Institute launched on Gull Lake in Kalamazoo County’s Ross Township, with nearly two dozen students from Wayne State University, Michigan State University and University of Michigan.

During the eight-week course, the students will take film classes at all of the universities, shoot a 20-minute film and network with Hollywood professionals, including producer Bill Mechanic, a 1972 MSU alum and head of a production company that produced this year’s Academy Awards show.

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Remember what I said earlier about consortiums/pooling resources?
Here’s a great example of that.

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Academia in crisis: Brian Hawkins addresses the NITLE Summit — NITLE

Brian L. Hawkins, co-founder of the Frye Institute and the first president of EDUCAUSE, gave an impassioned presentation “The Information Resource Professional: Transformation, Tradition & Trajectory” to an engaged group of conference participants at last week’s NITLE Summit. He didn’t mince words: along with institutions in all other sectors of higher education, it is urgent that liberal arts colleges invent a new future together, working in true collaboration. Today’s uniquely dire higher education fiscal environment is the driver. Institutional failures to respond energetically will result in the institution not surviving (emphasis DSC).

Hawkins based his argument both on astute observation of the current milieu and on comparisons with the trajectory of events and transformations he observed during his long and distinguished career of higher education leadership (emphasis DSC). Drawing on his experience in roles ranging from Senior Vice President at Brown University to EDUCAUSE leader, and returning to his many publications and presentations throughout that career, Hawkins delineated the current environment, painting an unsettling picture: (emphasis DSC — which I call a game-changing environment).

  • Public universities, once beneficiaries of state support, are increasingly competing for the same tuition and research dollars as private institution, and public funding will likely not return.
  • Private institutions are increasingly priced beyond the means of most American families.
  • Smaller colleges and universities are as vulnerable to environmental stresses as fish in small fish tanks.
  • The model of higher education that has obtained in the US for 130 years “is broken and no longer works.”
  • Because of the constrained fiscal environment we face as a nation, higher education has lost its traditional political supporters in state and federal government. Politically “we have no allies.”
  • Institutions are dysfunctional: resistant to change, slow to adapt, fraught with “special interests,” mistaken that they can return to an earlier time, and precluded by their own distinguished and complex histories from “starting over.”
  • The “new normal,” as delineated by Cornell president David Skorton in the opening plenary (PDF) at  NAICU’s annual meeting this part January, includes lost endowment income, weakened fund raising, smaller tuition increases, and more demands for financial aid, moving forward.
  • The global information environment has evolved far more quickly than have educational institutions.

…Hawkins further stressed the critical importance of genuinely transformative inter-institutional collaborations: “We have to stop thinking of collaboration as an avocational approach…… it is the only means of competitive survival.”

© 2024 | Daniel Christian