Art Fridrich is the first Director of Distance Education at Virginia State University, where he's charged with bringing courses and programs from the classroom to the online environment. Art also works with faculty members to change the in-class experience for students. Prior to his role at VSU, he spent over 30 years in higher education as a consultant, administrator and technologist with over 70 colleges and universities in the US and abroad.
But the comparison to the music and news industries tends to understate the degree to which individual learners are restricted from seeking out and assembling educational experiences according to their own criteria. Whereas consumers of music and journalism are free to make up their own minds as to what constitutes good value, what constitutes "educated" is defined by social conventions, regulatory and loan systems, and, of course, employers. Determinations of what constitutes good value in education can’t be made unilaterally. New and more flexible forms of credentials will continue to become more widely accepted, but the processes of disintermediation and unbundling will unfold far more slowly than in other sectors.
Then . . . MOOCs happened. Suddenly, this public demonstration of an institution’s instructional practices became front page news. Not merely local news or industry news (e.g. The Chronicle), but the New York Times, The Guardian, and The Atlantic. Now university presidents paid attention. They recognized that MOOCs could be one of the most potent forms of marketing for their institutions — for better or for worse. While they may not have shown much interest in online learning previously, Presidents of elite universities moved quickly to take part in this “me-too” public relations strategy. The investments made in these courses climbed quickly. Videographers, make-up artists, lighting crews and even actors started receiving invitations to the campus to help create a professional look and feel.
It has often been suggested that higher education is undergoing the changes we've seen unfold in other sectors - notably music recording and journalism. The Internet will do to us what it did to them. Apparently, we won’t like it. "Look at the music industry. It's been completely overturned by the Internet. My vision of the … Continue reading Higher Education is Not a Newspaper (Except when it is)
There is no end to the topics worth debating: rising costs in higher education (and who's to blame), identity politics, the "adjunctification" of academic labor, and rising calls for accountability, to name but a few. The role of educational technology is now a frequent focus.
As more opportunities and solutions get thrust in front of academic leaders, they need to combine an understanding of instructional value with a sensitivity towards how these different opportunities will or won’t succeed within the institutional setting.
"It's time to get creative about how and what we learn." A talk from the impossibly young Rainesford Alexandra. Keith Hampson, PhD is the founder of digital / edu / strategy, a research and consulting service that helps colleges, universities and education businesses develop better strategies for maximising value.