Last Tuesday, I attended an international symposium on online higher education titled “Disrupting Higher Education.” It was somewhat random that I was even invited, but I had a wonderful time. I would say that five of the seven main presentations were excellent and memorable. In my world, that is unbelievably good.
The strangest thing about the symposium, particularly given the topic, is that it has no web page that I can find. It was claimed, though, that the presentations would be posted online and available as a podcast. I’ll follow up by email this week and, if I find anything, I’ll update this post. In the meantime, here’s a press release about the event, which does contain a link to the Provost of Trinity College’s1 prepared remarks2.
In this blog post, though, I want to mention two particular sources of inspiration to me from the day:
Simon Bates gave a talk titled “Flipping the Classroom, Flipping the Culture.” I’ve known about active learning for a long time, and I’ve tried to incorporate it into my teaching to some extent. But I’ve always felt that I could and should do more. This talk gave me a model that I’m going to try the next time I teach undergraduates.3 This Prezi appears to be an earlier version of the same talk.4
Audrey Watters, of the blog Hack Education, gave a talk titled “Who’s Education Data Is It?” It was an interesting talk, with lots of food for thought, and she put some of her thoughts on the subject in a Storify here. I enjoyed her talk, and I’m really glad that I found her blog, which distills a large amount of news and information into something that I can actually track. Watters also made a Storify which is currently probably the best available record of the symposium.
But the moment of inspiration actually came in the panel at the end of the day. Someone asked about the relevance of the app/music/ebook marketplace to higher education. Some panelists riffed on iTunesU and then started down a tangent about tools and platforms. And then Watters said: “The web is the platform.” I’ve heard this a million times, so it shouldn’t have been profound. But for years I’ve been guilty of sticking my course content into our Sakai-based LMS because it’s so easy. I need to do better and liberate that content onto the web. And the next time I teach a course, I will try to do so.
For my American readers, the Provost of Trinity College is the top university official, like the president of most American universities. He is also elected by the faculty for a fixed term, completely unlike the president of most American universities. ↩
His remarks were quite interesting to me, also, but I didn’t count them in the seven. ↩
My next teaching assignment will probably be a graduate course. I can’t figure out how to make this model work in a graduate course. Still thinking about that. ↩
I usually dislike Prezi. But this one was pretty well done, I thought. Another one during the day (which backed a good talk, nonetheless) practically gave me motion sickness. ↩