Toffler and the Revolution

Gregory Mantell's interview of Alvin Toffler relating to he and his wife's latest book Revolutionary Wealth addresses a series of notions including the intangible nature of knowledge and its reprecussions to wealth and his prediction of a series of "Institutional Katrinas", where businesses, governments and educational systems will catastrohpically fail in delivering on promises. Watch the interview.

End Universities as We Know Them

For those of you in academia who think the revolution effecting everyone else won't be coming to greet you anytime soon, think again. Mark Taylor's recent Op-Ed in the Times sets forth the dirty secret of higher education. As with many industries, it is an unsustainable model that will soon meet its demise.

GRADUATE education is the Detroit of higher learning. Most graduate programs in American universities produce a product for which there is no market (candidates for teaching positions that do not exist) and develop skills for which there is diminishing demand (research in subfields within subfields and publication in journals read by no one other than a few like-minded colleagues), all at a rapidly rising cost (sometimes well over $100,000 in student loans).

Mark goes on:

The emphasis on narrow scholarship also encourages an educational system that has become a process of cloning. Faculty members cultivate those students whose futures they envision as identical to their own pasts, even though their tenures will stand in the way of these students having futures as full professors. The dirty secret of higher education is that without underpaid graduate students to help in laboratories and with teaching, universities couldn’t conduct research or even instruct their growing undergraduate populations. That’s one of the main reasons we still encourage people to enroll in doctoral programs. It is simply cheaper to provide graduate students with modest stipends and adjuncts with as little as $5,000 a course — with no benefits — than it is to hire full-time professors.

Read the Op-Ed piece and thanks Mark also visit how the university works for interesting debate on the topic.

Moodle - Open Source Learning - Welcome to the Cloud

The open system revolution is emerging with more and more content management systems delivering highly functional tools that deploy educational content rather easily. Moodle is one of these. Customizable, intuitive, and open; the system is used by 9 million participants in 200 countries with support for 80 languages. Design learning outcomes,  test your participants, include a variety of content and compatibility is rarely an issue. Best of all you don't have to have an IT department to deploy your educational content around the globe. Welcome to the clouds - the view is awesome from here !

Moodle Presentation from Alja Sulčič on Vimeo.

Education - Broken Institutions Must Change Their DNA

Nowhere is the evidence of institutional breakdown clearer than in education. For the first time in US history, Americans ages 25 to 34 are less likely to be "well-educated" by traditional definition, than the generation that preceded them.

College tuition and fees have risen three times as fast as the median family income. The National Center for Public Policy and Education reported this month that tuition and fees increased 439 percent from 1982 to 2007. Median family incomes rose by just 147 percent during the same time. At private universities the price tags and increases are even higher.

Hanging on to all outdated means and methods of "delivering" education, the solution proposed by most educators is to provide even more funding to this broken system. As Greg Whitby notes, educators have spent the 20th century perfecting a 19th  century model. The DNA of education is still founded on command and control tactics largely centered on irrelevant assumptions of the industrial revolution. We have to change that DNA and when we witness the disconnect off affordable education, it only proves this point.


Academic Publishing - The Revolution at Ground Zero

K.A. Wallace writes an eloquent analysis of the conflict emerging in academia: control of content isn't limited to commercial endeavors. The halls of "learning" are equally inundated with the dogma of control and old world paradigms of content ownership that have nothing to do with education.

Below  is an excerpt and the entire work that Wallace composes is located here.

"The rapidly developing digital publishing world is driven by an underlying tension between economic interests in controling access to digital products and the distributive logic of interlinked digital media. This tension has been playing itself out in well-known ways in the music and entertainment industry, the Writer’s Guild of America strike being one of the most recent incidents. The entertainment industry and, in the academic sector, the hard sciences have gotten the most attention, but humanities and social science scholars need to recognize that though there is less money and less cyberinfrastructure in place, they have professional interests to protect, as do institutions such as universities and scholarly professional organizations. Scholarly and research communities in the humanities and soft social sciences are well behind their peers in the hard sciences on open access and digital publishing in general. Because peer-reviewed scholarship in the humanities and social sciences is as much a public good as is research in the hard sciences, academic institutions and authors, particularly those in the humanities and social sciences who have not been paying attention to the shifts in the digital publishing landscape, need to both take control of how their works are published and distributed and become much more actively involved in setting the terms for the digital publishing world."