Vertical thinking

The “education vertical” sounds a bit more thrilling than it is.  The first time you hear it, it seems to share the weird poetic syntax of “the body electric” and “the life everlasting”. It’s education, on an updraft. A bit of googling fishes up a turn of phrase that has more concrete aspirations. This vertical is both market and solution  (“Callista cracks open education vertical“) and it continues intermittently to appear in the promotional talk of software vendors and government procurement….

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Tablets, tablets everywhere

Ferdinand von Prondzynski, VC at Robert Gordon University, is asking why universities have been relatively slow to mainstream the innovative teaching practices that will match the speedy uptake of mobile and tablet devices by their students.  As he puts it, technology-enabled learning shouldn’t be “the preserve of nerds”. The need to break out of the nerd enclave is critical for any institution hovering on the brink of committing to an enterprise-wide LMS contract. This is going to cost so much that…

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Open all hours

Ben Wildavsky has a message for Australian universities.  He’s the author of The Great Brain Race: How Global Universities are Reshaping the World, just out from Princeton U. Press. He’s keen to promote the benefits of free trade in higher education, not least of which is that “knowledge is not a zero sum game”, and that if we create more of it in one country, we don’t lose it in another. Somehow this is calling to mind the joke about…

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Houston, we need to talk about content

One of the features of Australian life that surprises visiting American students is that we’re watching the same movies and TV shows they just left back home, only with the neat variation that ours are seasons out of date. So they arrive at the airport having been told to expect novelties of all sorts (usually, some variation on kangaroos in the suburbs, laid-back anti-authoritarianism, a funny accent, and sharks), to find that they’ve stepped back in time to their own…

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Online charlatans?

Today the Sydney Morning Herald has lent its editorial elbow to the effort to figure out whether online learning represents the end of traditional university teaching, in much the same way that the Buggles taught us back in the 70s that video killed the radio star. They way they tell it, defeat is inevitable: In cyberspace, the ivory towers of academia are undoubtedly crumbling. Thrilling stuff.  It’s like that middle section of The Lord of the Rings where everything has gone…

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Online learning in the iron triangle

We’re hearing from every direction that online learning is going to be the solution to the coming bricks and mortar shortage. This week, Swinburne DVC(A) Shirley Leitch writes that: If we are to meet the target of 40 per cent of 25 to 34 year olds holding a bachelor degree by 2025, we need to move beyond bricks and mortar to learner-centred solutions. I’m not so sure that these two things are simple opposites.  My daughter is at the stage…

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