Friday, March 27, 2009 - A glimpse at the future of education?

I was off the grid for a few days rock climbing at Indian Cove in Joshua Tree National Park.  Beautiful!  I highly recommend it.  One of the top rock climbing destinations in the world.

Getting back into the online world was oddly unappealing at first.  But then I found the tweets about YouTube/edu and that got me back into the game. 

Are Open Universities the future of higher ed?  I don't know, but oddly enough the OU web site looks an awful lot like a regular university.  I don't think its innovation when you simply do what you are doing...but instead do it online.  I have not taken any courses through OU and I have not deeply researched OU or contacted any staff.  I'm simply making an observation based on first impressions.

So, let's get back to YouTube.  The YouTube (actually Google) approach seems to blend more appropriately with the user in mind.  What I mean is, if a student were to create his/her method of using the Internet to learn (or earn a degree), my guess would be that it work EXACTLY the way they currently use the web.  Instead of supporting how users actually use the web, online universities seem to force the technology into the same old boring university model.  And yes, I understand the "paving the cow paths" analogy here.  And so I understand the THEY must follow this path, but the rest of us don't.

Google understands better than anyone how the web is being used and so EDU is paving the cow path from a different point of view.  EDU is not that much different for plain ol' YouTube accept that the content is specifically sorted and categorized by institution, topic, etc...all based on learning content.  So, a user can search for and learn something new in exactly the same way they search for the latest funny cat video.

I think EDU has much broader implications as well.  Many of which have not even been thought of or explored...yet.  What are your thoughts?


dan r said...

Hey Brent

OU, the future? It's been around a long time. It was founded back in the day to find a use for the newly created city of Milton Keynes. Despite that inauspicious start I do believe it is quite a well respected university and sits comfortably in the UK national rankings.

I do think however that you may be right insofar as the distance learning model was all well and good, but it really needed the Internet to be invented and come along to make it more worthwhile, in which case they should really be hitting their stride.

And usefully, as a publicly funded and minded body they are throwing a lot of money into worthwhile programs, like offering a lot of their peripheral content out for the world to use and funding FOSS projects like Moodle.

And you get to go to Joshua Tree, while me and my boy have to make do with resin holds on the inside of a converted church here in Bristol :(

dan r said...

Oh, and this looks like another interesting take on the online edu content, which describes itself as "Thousands of video lectures from the world's top scholars." Why drag my ass in to college to see some ill suited researcher doing some obligatory podium time when I can get this on my laptop in the coffee shop at the end of the road?..

Plasmid said...

I believe:
Education is media