From DSC:
We don’t want to be looking at a similar article — albeit directed at institutions of higher education this time — a few years from now. Innovation and being willing to experiment with new models/approaches/pedagogies/delivery mechanisms is key.
We don’t have to have all the answers (as the answers/most optimal solutions will be in constant flux as well), but we need to be willing to change.

The university lacks capacity to change education — from George Siemens

Make no mistake, dramatic changes are occurring in education. These changes, due to the reluctance of the academy to map activities to the reality of the external world, are driven by external innovation. Quite simply, higher education is not in control of its fate as it has failed to develop the capacity to be self-reliant in times of change. I’ve seen universities (such as University of Manitoba) reach out to consulting and accounting firms to provide structural and funding change recommendations. I’ve seen universities begin to partner with online course providers such as StraighterLine to extend course offerings because they (the university) are simply not capable of fulfilling these roles themselves – they lack capacity to participate in this new space of learning. I used to think that higher education and open access would do away with the dominant role of traditional publishers. It looks like I was wrong. Publishers are now offering full course content packages that blend textbooks with faculty-produced materials (i.e. McGraw-Hill’s purchase of Tegrity – a lecture capture software). The university’s reliance on external offerings to fill their capacity gaps is a growing trend. For some (traditional liberal education advocates) it’s a concern. For others (entrepreneurs) it’s a blessing. And for still others (traditional publishers and content creators), it’s a way to stay relevant and perhaps even become more integrated with educational institutions than was possible with a textbook publishing model.

From DSC:
Sorry George, but I just have to post this in its entirety, as I think that you are right on the mark here!

From behind my “lenses” the way I “see” this is that:

  • Higher ed must become more nimble, willing to change, and work to address our shortcomings.
  • We must be responsive to changes outside of our control (which is the majority)
  • We must experiment with things and be willing to fail. Because…

…we are not nearly as in control of things as we suppose.

Disappearing Departments — from

Kean University department chairs have spent a year on the endangered species list, and now they appear headed for all-but-certain extinction.

A rough plan to eliminate chairs took shape last May amid heavy protest, and administrators now have a draft proposal they say could be carried out as early as July. The plan, which would replace departments with schools headed by presidentially-appointed “executive directors,” has been met with renewed furor from faculty, who view it as a power grab that leaves the future of many disciplines uncertain. The university has already moved to eliminate such departments as philosophy and social work, but this plan would kill even large departments like English and biology, dividing faculty members into new organizational structures they played no role in creating.

“The university has become a battlefield, [where administrators] do as they see fit, when they see fit without any academic justification,” said Bryan Lees, a chemistry professor (emphasis DSC).

From DSC:
And what would you do if you were in the administration’s position? Funds are running short…budgets are tightening big time…and we’re getting down to the bone in many institutions of higher education (if you doubt this, check out one of Ray Schroeder’s blogs).

Like it or not, institutions of higher education are businesses — most often with excellent, noble goals that better our societies around the world. But they are businesses; and, like so many other types of organizations out there, it comes down to funding and sound business models.

To survive and thrive today, we all must come to the table to help initiate change where it is necessary to do so. Let’s be proactive, and creative in our thinking — being willing to make changes — before it’s too late. If we do not, administration may have no choice (in many situations out there) but to make some tough decisions and you and I might find ourselves on the short end of the stick. The ax may have to come out.

Did we sit back and watch this situation unfold? What steps did we take to stop this bubble from getting any bigger? Regardless…the key question now is:

How can we survive and thrive during this period of change?

  1. To me, the first and foremost answer to that question is that we become willing to change.
  2. Secondly, we realize that we are on the same team; it should not be administration vs. everyone else.
  3. We be creative and responsive in our thinking. Let’s not get broadsided. Keep an eye on the trends out there and be responsive to them.
  4. Develop new types of cross-disciplinary degrees, especially ones that allow for students to be creative, and to identify and follow their passions.
  5. Then see my other suggestions at:

Teachers as Master Learners — from Will Richardson

Quoting Will:

More and more, though, as I look at my own kids and try to make sense what’s going to make them successful, I care less and less about a particular teacher’s content expertise and more about whether that person is a master learner, one from whom Tess or Tucker can get the skills and literacies to make sense of learning in every context, new and old. What I want are master learners, not master teachers, learners who see my kids as their apprentices for learning. Before public schooling, apprenticeship learning was the way kids were educated. They learned a trade or a skill from masters. When we moved to compulsory schooling, kids began to learn not from master doers so much as from master knowers, because we decided there were certain things that every child needed to know in order to be “educated.” And we looked for adults who could impart that knowledge, who could teach it in ways that every child could learn it.

From DSC:
Coming from the world of an instructional technologist, I would also like to add how key it is for teachers, instructors, professors, etc. to be willing to try new things out. Let’s forget about being experts in anything! It’s ok to not be an expert in something. For me, it’s almost unbelievable that anyone can be an expert these days…because for most of us, the world’s spinning far too fast to be an expert in anything anymore.

To Will’s point, we need to be constant learners. But we also need to be willing to try and do things differently (at least in areas where it makes sense to give things a try). Whether teaching or not, I think we all need to learn from our students…and from each other. Let’s be willing to try some new things out. We can fail and model learning from our failures. We can show courage; humility. We can show our students that they too are going to need to be willing to change.

Willingness…it’s key.

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