Here’s a link to an excellent PPT presentation that comes to us by way of Chester Bateman.
Posted in Social Media, Web Communications | 3 Comments »
Time and location are two of the biggest challenges facing higher education. The sooner a university can learn to see past those barriers, the sooner they can craft a vision of what lies ahead.
Prior to the internet, if I wanted to find other people who shared similar interests, it had to be based on meeting them at a specific time and location, just like my classes at college. The web, particularly social media, eliminates those barriers. Online, I can participate in discussions on a particular topic based on my schedule. I should be able to do the same with a college course, within the necessary constraints of timeframes (quarters, semesters) and deadlines.
What does that mean for a geographically based university? Will the sprawling campus become a thing of the past? I would hope not since I picked my undergraduate university based partly on the campus, but it will change the physical nature of the university. Just as Myspace, Facebook, and other social networking sites have replaced physical hang-out spots for some people, particularly non-driving teens, the university has to develop an online counterpart to the classroom and lecture hall.
While some may balk at the notion of replacing in-class lectures with online video-streaming lectures, the end result isn’t to replace face-to-face interaction with online interaction, although I actually would have preferred a video lecture to attending the same lecture in a huge hall for some of my required courses.
One thing we need to remember is that we’re still in the early stages of developing and adapting to these new modes of interpersonal communication. Social media and online interaction can and should improve our time together when we meet in real life. And it should, eventually, free up more time for people to spend together doing the things they most enjoy.
If the vibrancy of the online communities surrounding an institution don’t do justice to the physical location and the physical communities, then you’re at a certain disadvantage when it comes to recruiting.
If we take it to the individual class level, instructors who have posted lecture and video content openly on iTunes U have noticed that their classes fill up quicker than those sections without public online content. Students are able to take the instructor for a test drive.
The same likely applies to an institution itself. A prospective student (or staff or faculty applicant) can test drive an institution on the online space via open content. Put up a barrier here and you’re at a certain disadvantage.
If/when an institution offers the bulk of courses and degrees entirely online, how will that change the physical nature of the institution? I love the feeling and community of a university campus, but I also see the desirability of being able to take any course online, from anywhere, yet still being able to engage in the classroom, even if I’m not physically there (and sometimes I felt that way even before the internet).
If the vibrancy of the online community supersedes that of the physical location, is there a downside? I feel as if I’d be losing a lot of what I loved about my college experiences on campus, but that might just be nostalgia on my part.
Obviously, some degrees or classes require physical presence, but for much of the liberal arts, I’m not sure how to qualify in-class education versus online.
A surprising quotation from the 2008 report on online education:
“The proportion of institutions declaring that online education is critical to their longterm strategy shows a small decline for fall 2007.”
I wonder how a university’s approach to online education affects their overall approach to online strategies, especially social media? They seem to go hand-in-hand to me.
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