So it is, so shall it ever be…

bus3, originally uploaded by Lawrence Whittemore.

When considering how changes in media might affect how education is delivered, I’ve been known to indulge in heaping helpings of hyperbolic speculation spiced with apocalyptic flavours. I can’t help myself, when I observe something like the meltdown of a cultural industry, my mind immediately begins toward similar scenarios in my own profession. Isn’t it possible that new media might spawn similar challenges to how education is funded and delivered? Are there equivalent threats to what Craigslist has meant to newspaper revenues out there?

I haven’t really gotten past that idle speculation phase, but a few recent developments have caught my attention.

* I had long wondered why the high and rising prices of textbooks hadn’t spawned an online piracy scene. Well, evidently that practice is indeed quite common.

* I’ve seen a few attempts by online communities to connect potential learners with potential instructors. The School of Everything has garnered a lot of buzz, and will be fascinating to watch.

* I thought David Wiley’s open course on Open Education was a fantastic model, and it’s clear the big happening in online learning for this semester will be George and Stephen’s course on Connectivism & Connective Knowledge. It’s hard not to be impressed with the many means of interacting with the course, or amazed with the sheer scale of the thing (the number of signed-up participants is in the thousands, hence the notion of massive open online courses (MOOCs). Looking at my schedule in the coming months, I refrained from signing up. But I intend to be observing and interacting – I have no choice, it’s where all of my friends will be! In any event, these sorts of courses, run on scalable open tools, can be successful without much regard for a lot of the conditions we are used to thinking of as essential to educational program delivery.

If we don’t do it right, somebody just might do it better.

About Brian

I am a Strategist and Discoordinator with UBC's Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology. My main blogging space is Abject Learning, and I sporadically update a short bio with publications and presentations over there as well...
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6 Responses to So it is, so shall it ever be…

  1. Jim says:

    I feel the Abject coming back into full sing, and I love it!

    Things are changing, and the wave is gonna be a motherfucker as someone once said 🙂

  2. Mike Bogle says:

    Hi Brian,

    I’ve signed up for the CCK08 course and am really fascinated by what’s emerged so far – not just from a subject standpoint, but also in terms of the learner relationships and social dynamic that’s started to develop, and the approaches people are starting to take to interpret and cope with the information flow. It’s hard not to be excited about the possibilities really.

    That said a great deal of what’s been discussed is brand new territory for me, so I’m doing a ridiculous amount of studying at the moment 🙂 It’s nice to be back in this mindset, but sleep is sometimes hard to come by!

    If there’s any chance of you posting your thoughts on all this I’d be really interested in hearing them.

    Hope this finds you well,



  3. Brian says:

    Jim, I guess it really is impossible for me to go a day without me saying ‘I love you’.

    Mike, reading your blog, I can’t help but be impressed with how energetically and thoughtfully you are engaging the material and the approach. I can’t see how you won’t benefit from the experience if you can manage to keep anything like that up. Of course, with a couple little ones in the house, it can be tricky, eh?

  4. A great post. I do enjoy reading your blog. Your right about online piracy of textbooks about a third of my group have illegally downloaded course books off the internet and I think the problem will just get worse.

  5. Jon says:

    I’m late to this party, but…

    “I think the problem will just get worse.”

    Why is it a “problem,” and what’s meant by it getting “worse”?

    As far as I’m concerned, the problem is the price-gouging on the part of textbook publishers. I’m teaching a course right now for which the textbook is over $150, and the accompanying workbook over $50. If I knew a site where the students could download these texts for free, I’d direct them to it like a shot.

  6. And the big guns are all sitting out the back waiting for their turn. Blamb calls “set!” and starts padding north with convincing enthusiasm. Not needing any second guess, a volley of followers head north after Blamb, still yet to see this set he’s spotted. A few teabags remain seated on their boards, stretching their necks over the swell to see if they can cath a glimpse of this so call set Blamb has called. Meanwhile Leroy is standing in the car park where he can see all, secretly giving Blamb signals as to which one is the one to take.

    Hey Jon, we (Otago Polytechnic, deep south New Zealand) has started authoring its own text books in Wikibooks. When at a finished stage, we load a copy up to to sell printed and bound. An immensly satisfying process and finished product. Example: Anatomy and Physiology of Animals

    We have also been running Wiley style courses ever since Wiley called that set, example running now: Facilitating Online Communities.

    But its only a matter of time before some pretty boy yuppy punk wanna be paddles out here with he’s shiney new plank and starts taking all the waves… and will probably catch the motherfucker too

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