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Are we at the Napster moment in Higher Education?

Martin Bean Key Note – notes from the 2012 HEA conference.

If there is a transcript please let me know!

Martin Bean, the Vice Chancellor of the Open University (OU) makes the point that technology in education has everything to do with brain-ware, not software, that ‘we thought our job was done when we got people plugged in’ – (he comes from a commercial technology background).

Martin Bean calls for educators in tertiary education to ‘do the right thing by our student’

Technology is the enabler – it still requires great teaching.

He is at pains to point out that our approach to education is stuck in the past, that it is NOT about rote learning to regurgitate in an exam, but helping students make sense of the information available to them.

Martin Bean is HIGHLY critical of research students who rely on the top 15 hits in Google Search and Wikipedia.

His handle on the current student is insightful.

He makes the point that ‘they want to blend their digital lifestyles with their learning – rather they would say it is ‘just the way they live’.

‘We need to create a trusting environment where the student can challenge the information’. Martin Bean

There needs to be deconstruction and reconstruction of the pedagogy to make it more relevant

Martin Bean calls for the ‘sage on the stage to coach on the side’.

He makes the point that the OU’s National Surveys say that our students want to spend time with us.

This human component is crucial for success and retention.

Martin Bean asks, ‘what would Steve Jobs do?’

  • People and process remain more important than the technology
  • What the OU does: relevant, personalised, engaging learning.

How do we inspire people in those informal moments?

The OU are lucky and unique to be able to work with the BBC on productions like the Frozen Planet …

  • YouTube as an open education repository
  • iTunes – 1:33 come in to find out more
  • Apple authoring tools

The value and opportunity of mobile

  • Akash – a tablet from India running on Android for under £50, so cheaper to give students one of these and access to the Internet than buy academic books.
  • 400 eBooks. e.g. Schubert’s poems, listening to music, seeing the manuscript, reading annotations then looking at the original handwritten manuscript …

How do we as educators do what we do so well?

  • MOOCs – engagement of hundreds of thousands, if not millions in meaningful ways.
  • More than anything esle technology creates access

We are at the Napster moment in Higher Education

See the Hewlett Foundation website for the scale of OERs. 12,000 hours of OU Open Learn for example.
Nurturing powerful communities of learning

In his final remarks Martin Beans suggests

  • Breaking the content down into shorter milestones
  • And the need for qualifications with market currency

Martin Bean, OU Vice Chancellor: We are at the Napster moment in Higher Education

Martin Bean Key Note – notes from the 2012 HEA conference.

If there is a transcript please let me know!

I took a couple of hours as part of H818:The networked practitioner to follow this presentation closely. It makes you proud to be an OU student, or in my case now, an OU Graduate. Our Vice Chancellor, better perhaps than any other, has an inspired and informed, and often witty outlook on the future of education.

He makes the point that technology in education has everything to do with brain-ware, not software,. that ‘we thought our job was done when we got people plugged in’.

He calls for educators in tertiary education to ‘do the right thing by our student’

Technology is the enabler – it still requires great teaching.

He is at pains to point out that our approach to education is stuck in the past, that it is NOT about rote learning to regurgitate in an exam, but helping students make sense of the information available to them.

He is HIGHLY critical of research students who rely on the top 15 hits in Google Search and Wikipedia.

His handle on the current student is insightful. He makes the point that ‘they want to blend their digital lifestyles with their learning – rather they would say it is ‘just the way they live’.

We need to create a trusting environment where the student can challenge the information.

There needs to be deconstruction and reconstruction of the pedagogy to make it more relevant

He calls for the ‘sage on the stage to coach on the side’.

Our National Surveys say that our students want to spend time with us.

This human component is crucial for success and retention.

Martin Bean asks, ‘what would Steve Jobs do?’

  • People and process remain more important than the technology
  • What the OU does: relevant, personalised, engaging learning.

How do we inspire people in those informal moments?

The OU are lucky and unique to be able to work with the BBC on productions like the Frozen Planet …

  • YouTube as an open education repository
  • iTunes – 1:33 come in to find out more
  • Apple authoring tools

The value and opportunity of mobile

  • Akash – a tablet in India running on Android for under £50, so cheaper to give students one of these and access to the Internet than buy academic books.
  • 400 eBooks. e.g. Schubert’s poems, listening to music, seeing the manuscript, reading annotations then looking at the original handwritten manuscript …

How do we as educators do what we do so well?

  • MOOCs – engagement of hundreds of thousands, if not millions in meaningful ways.
  • More than anything esle technology creates access

We are at the Napster moment in Higher Education

See the Hewlett Foundation website for the scale of OERs. 12,000 hours of OU Open Learn for example.
Nurturing powerful communities of learning

  • Break the content down into shorter milestones
  • Qualifications with market currency

Who would you invite to an e-learning dinner party?

Fig.1. The dining room at Appleby Castle, Cumbria

I posed this challenge to an e-learning group on LinkedIn:

‘If you could invited anyone in the world to a dinner party who would it be?’

I could run this every month on a different continent and keep going for a couple of years … 12 might work better as I’d like to include a few undergraduates and graduates … perhaps guests would be asked to bring a member of their faculty, a young work colleague or inspiring student.

I’ve left myself off. As the host I would be at their service. Running the event behind the scenes and enjoying the conversation before and after.

Martin Bean, Vice Chancellor, Open University. Inspirational champion of distance learning and accessible education. The Open University has over 257,000 active students.

Dame Professor Wendy Hall, DBE, FRS, FREng – Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton, UK, and Dean of the Faculty of Physical and Applied Sciences.

Vilayanur.S. Ramachandran – Behavioral Neurologist and Professor at the Center for Brain Cognition at the University of California, San Diego. Influential academic/research on how we think in symbols and metaphors

Professor Daphne Koller, Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University and a Third generation PhD. Informed on big data, open learn and the future of higher education.

Cammy Bean, VC Learning Design, Kineo US. An instructional designer who mixes creativity and the pragmatic.

Sugata Mitra – Professor of Education Technology at the University of Newcastle. Best known for the ‘hole in the wall’ computers used in research in rural India (and city slums).

Donald H Taylor – Founder and CEO of Learning Skills Group and annual Learning Technologies conference in London every year.

Kirstie Donnelly, Director of Product Development, City & Guilds. From linear video production to a global leader in applied, workplace learning. 

12-16 would give me more scope.

I’d book the dining hall at the Oxford Union.

Dr Zbigniew Pelczynski – Founder of the School for Leaders, Poland. Retired Oxford Professor of Philosophy and Politics.

Dr B Price Kerfoot – Harvard Medic and educator, ‘Spaced Education’ and QStream

George Soros – Investor, entrepreneur and educational philanthropist.

Thomas Garrod – Wiseman of e-learning Global Network, educator, learning design.

Double the numbers and I’d run it as an exclusive weekend on the Isle of Eriska – the castle would be ours with 32 guests for the conference and another 18 family members for the extended visit.

  1. Jonathan Vernon – A career in video communications, training and coaching.
  2. Matt Bury – Wiseman of e-learning Global Network, learning design.
  3. John Seely-Brown – Learning from the periphery, former Xerox educator.
  4. Yrjo Engestrom – Cultural historical activity theory and knotworking
  5. Gilly Salmon – E-tivities, e-moderation
  6. Agnes Kukulska-Hulme – Professor of mobile learning at the Open University
  7. Martin Weller – Digital Scholar
  8. Diana Laurillard – Chair of  Learning with Digital Technologies
  9. Gordon Bell – long lived, lifeblogging, Microsoft research and experimenter.
  10. Jay Cross – educator, speaker, inspired thinker on learning and e-learning
  11. Sir Jonathan Ive – SVP Design, Apple
  12. William Hague – Oxford, Insead and UK lifelong politician. Engaging and extraordinarily bright.
  13. Walter Isaacson – A pupil of Dr Pelczynski (see above), journalist and author of the Steve Jobs exclusive biography.
  14. Steven Pressfield – Author, thinker, influential pusher of the ‘War of Art’ (overcoming resistance).
  15. Marc Lewis – Advertising entrepreneur and Dean of London’s highly influential School of Communication Arts (SCA 2.0)
  16. Viktor Mayer-Schonberger – Director of Advancement of the OII and Professor of Internet Governance and Regulation
  17. Sir Martin Sorrell – WPP CEO. Highly influential and well regarded businessman.
  18. Richard Davey – Founder, owner of influential global law publishing group.
  19. David Waller – Ex FT Lex Columnist and Bureau Chief Germany, Founder of PR agency, Author, Head of Communications at Mann Group, previously for Deutsche Bank.
  20. Susanna White – award winning documentary and filmmaker.

(At the time this photograph was taken Appleby Castle was, aptly, the HQ and Training Centre for a UK based PLC. Managers attended from the US, Australia, Hong Kong, South Africa, the UK and various parts of Europe.)

 

Is education a problem or a business opportunity?

‘In Business’ with Peter Day on BBC Radio 4 recently included insights on higher education from the Open University Vice Chancellor Martin Bean.

Martin Bean enlightens, enthuses and convinces us of a model that puts the student at the centre of things, supported by great teaching that exploits everything online and distance learning can now offer.

Personally I always need a transcript alongside radio or TV before I can discuss it so I offer a partial transcript here:

The Open University point of view is expressed in the first eight minutes.

PETER DAY (PD) suggests that people are complaining about education.

This is ‘In Business’ so the angle is on the transition of graduates into business. HP sponsors students through degrees (something accountancy giant KMPG launched last year with several universities and of course the armed service have done for decades)

‘Almost everywhere education seems to be failing to produce what people want from it’.

Now businesses are getting much more involved we are told.

Is education a problem or a business opportunity?

‘Wherever they come from and whatever they are learning what should students be taught? That’s something companies are increasingly getting involved with because they are finding it difficult to get the trained people they need’.

Various industry leaders are interviewed, but a substantial part of programme, indeed the first 8 minutes of a 30 minute piece goes to the Open University, Vice Chancellor, Martin Bean, (MB) who we are reminded comes from industry himself having led education at Microsoft.

How is the OU introduced?

One of the global pioneers in new kinds of education was the Open University set up by the British Government 43 years ago to create distance learning based on broadcasting to reach students outside lecture halls. The internet now provides huge new opportunities for the Open University. Here’s one of the OU’s online lessons:

(The remit for the ‘University of the Airwaves’ wasn’t simply to exploit the technology of the day: broadcast TV and radio, but to give educational opportunities to those who had or were missing out from conventional routes).

The History of English in 10 minutes (narrated by Clive Anderson), an iTunes podcast is offered as an example of the online learning experience.

PD: Education is in some kind of crisis: why?

MB: Institutions needs to have the student at the heart of the equation otherwise it leads to dissatisfaction either with the teaching, or worse still the outcomes when they graduate.

Are employers getting 21st century skills, softer skills that are really about people, about the ability to collaborate, group problem solve, the ability to communicate effectively verbally, the ability to work in teams and our model as you know is based on practice-based learning, so the beauty of embedding learning in the workplace with the Open University model means that you’re actually getting the best of both worlds. I think the fact that over 80% of the FTSE 100 companies in the UK sponsor a OU student gives a pretty clear indication to me that that model is one that overcomes some of that

PD: There is competition from the more traditional universities now?

MB: Other more traditional universities are embracing more innovative practices that we’ve been using and I think that’s fantastic, that’s what students are demanding, these are students now that view technology and access and real time interaction an absolute necessity in their life.

It’s all about embracing the technology of the day.

MB: What’s on my agenda now is to continue to leverage the web, and the personalisation of the web, to fully embrace these new tablet and mobile devices that are proliferating the world and directly link them in to our virtual learning environments, so that people can get as much out of a tablet or mobile device as they do for entertainment today they can get as much if not more using it as a Higher Education learning device.

PD: Looking at the history of technology it is often thought that the new will replace the old?

MB: We have to redefine what personal means. The web has moved from being very content centric to very people centric.

The personal side of higher education is where the magic happens.

MB: What’s interesting though is the redefinition of what ‘personal’ can actually be. We used to think of personal as meaning physical, having to be in the same room, what’s interesting in what has happened to the web is it has moved from being very content centric to being very people centric and enabling us to engage and collaborate in Facebook-type ways that we could not have contemplated even five years ago.

PD: Is it better?

MB: It’s not fair to compare classroom or lecture with online as it is all to do with the quality of teaching.

What is effective teaching?

When we get that precious time with an academic we want is discourse, want we want is challenge.

The real question is ‘what’s fit for purpose?’

Other contributors were:

Nick Wilson
Managing director, HP UK

Rob Williams
Principal lecturer, University of the West of England

Ralph Mainard
Deputy master, Dulwich College

Joe Spence
Master of Dulwich College

Jim O’Neill
Chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management

Kunal Bahl
Founder of Indian coupon website Snapdeal

Krishnan Ganesh
Founder Tutorvista

Eric Schmidt
Chairman, Google

REFERENCE

Day, P (2011) In Business. TX 5 JAN & 9 Jan 2012 http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b018xwtc (Accessed 10 Jan 2012)

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