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EDUCAUSE - Anticipating the future

Several EDUCAUSE sessions tried to guess how changing trends in both society and in IT will affect the future of Higher Education.  One such was the second keynote session, which combined two presentations and a discussion on the theme of how the worlds of academia and work combine for students.  The point was made that only a third of post-secondary education takes place in universities (in the USA), with the other two-thirds happening in the corporate world.  On a more prosaic note, it was also noted that many students have to work just to support themselves during their degree, which can constrain when they are able to engage with their courses.  Both speakers suggested that a more flexible model of education may be needed, sometimes (often?) in collaboration with corporations.

I wonder what my academic friends would say to this notion.  Many of them are strongly opposed to the idea that university education should primarily about preparing people for the world of work.

Other "big picture" sessions looked at the impact of MOOCs.  I caught the one about Stanford's Coursera, which is the company that the University of Edinburgh is working with. (Edinburgh has a long-standing relationship with Stanford).  I was interested to see not just the impact on the wider world but also the effect within Stanford, encouraging more interest in methods for online pedagogy and assessment.  There was also an addendum by the CIO of another university, presenting the impact from the IS side.

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