Mike Caulfield has a post on how automation of middle-class jobs, increases competition for poory paid job, which removes the incentive to innovate in technology for those jobs. It made me think how many postgrads going into an academic career now don't really expect it to be well paid, or secure. They approach higher education career with a very different mindset than I did. When I came into academia it was with the hope of getting the "cushiest job on the planet". Professors used to be part of the prosperous middle class, now they hover just above the precariat.
This chimed with another thought I'd had which was that for my daughter she has mostly only ever known living in a post-financial crisis world. She was born before 2008, but most of her formative memories will be of the age of austerity. Going on the principle that a bad naming idea worked once, so why not try it again, we could label her and her generation "austerity natives".
What will be the attitude of austerity natives to money and government? There was a report out today about teenagers in the UK (basically, they're a lot nicer and care more than the media give them credit for). But what of the generation after, and specifically their relationship to money and economics? Will they be fearful of credit, having seen the damage it caused? Will they be like children who were brought up in a strict household who go a bit wild when they are suddenly let loose at uni? They may have a frivolous attitude to money, because hey, it's all screwed up anyway. I suspect there is an interesting longitudinal study in there somewhere...
[The following is an adapted extract from the upcoming Battle for Open book, which I'm bouncing off you lot first].
I am not by nature an overtly political person, in that I don't interpret everything through a political lens. So, rather like Clay Shirky and higher ed, writing on politics is not my strongest point. Which is by way of saying, sorry of what follows is a bit rubbish.
I often avoid given a tight definition of open education, because I want to admit degree and variation in practice. Whilst some areas, such as OERs, have a very clear definition, others such as open scholarship, represent more of a general approach and set of beliefs. Finding one definition would exclude some elements of the open education story that are interesting, hence I prefer to think in terms of a set of coalescing principles. This approach however does allow for a vagueness in the term which potentially renders it meaningless, or subject to abuse.
In his thoughtful critique of open source publisher Tim O’Reilly, Morozov argues that this vagueness around the term has been deliberately constructed by O’Reilly to create good PR:
“Few words in the English language pack as much ambiguity and sexiness as “open.” And after O’Reilly’s bombastic interventions—“Open allows experimentation. Open encourages competition. Open wins,” he once proclaimed in an essay—its luster has only intensified. Profiting from the term’s ambiguity, O’Reilly and his collaborators likened the “openness” of open source software to the “openness” of the academic enterprise, markets, and free speech. “Open” thus could mean virtually anything.”
For Morozov, O’Reilly’s co-option of the term allowed him to ally it to economics, which the market found more palatable, allowing O’Reilly and many in the software movement to “look political while advancing an agenda that had very little to do with politics”. Openwashing suggests that there is market capital now in proclaiming open credentials, and ambiguity around the term facilitates this.
Stephen posted a piece last week about the OU, history and MOOCs (we had a bit of a misunderstanding about it), which highlights that history has political connotations. Many accounts of open education usually have one of two starting points. The first is the founding of the Open University, for instance Andy Lane contends that “The discourse around the role of openness in higher education can be said to have seriously started with the inception of the United Kingdom Open University (UKOU) in 1969”. The second, alternative, starting point for history is that of the open source movement, which is what Wiley & Gurell use, while admitting that “Histories are difficult to write for many reasons. One reason is the difficulty of determining where to begin telling the story – for there is never a true starting point to a tale woven of people, events and ideas.” The choice of starting point will have an influence on the type of interpretation of open education put forward: the OU based one may suggest a university and student focused approach, whereas the open source one might indicate a more technological and license driven perspective.
Peter and Diemann propose a longer historical perspective, highlighting aspects of open education in the Middle ages with the founding of universities which “contained in them the idea of openness, albeit by no means comprehensive. This period highlights “open” as learner driven, resting on a growing curiosity and increasing awareness of educational opportunities.” Open education can be traced through the 17th Century with coffee-houses and then into the industrial revolution with schools and working clubs. Their overview of this broader history of openness is shown below:
A history of Openness From Peter, S., & Deimann, M. (2013). On the role of openness in education: A historical reconstruction. Open Praxis, 5(1), 7-14. ) released under a CC-By license
This longer historical perspective has some illuminating lessons for the current debate. The authors conclude that “Historical forms of openness caution us against assuming that particular configurations will prevail, or that social aspects should be assumed as desired by default. … After a period of open movements many times there have been slight but important shifts from “pure” openness towards “pretended” openness, i.e. some aspects have been modified to offer more control for producers and other stakeholders.”
This illustrates that openness has always been perceived as problematic, and one of its principle difficulties is that it operates against an individual’s, and more significantly, an organisation’s need to control. And to return to my original subject, where there are issues of control then there is undoubtedly a political aspect. Peters and Britez are blunt about this in their book on open education, opening with the statement “Open education involves a commitment to openness and is therefore inevitably a political and social project.” It is possible to argue, as the open source community do, that openness is simply the most efficient way to operate, and there is some truth in that, for instance the argument for learning objects and OERs makes this case. But even if that is so, a degree of politics follows. This can be a set of assumed beliefs, in democracy, altruism, sharing, and a general liberal perspective for instance, or more directly, it can be political lobbying, for instance to introduce open textbooks into a country or a region.
There have been explicitly political criticisms of aspects of open education. For instance MOOCs have been seen as exploiting academic labour, and of having a neoliberal agenda. The Silicon Valley narrative can itself been seen as embodying a form of neoliberal capitalism, and so there should be no surprise that MOOCs can be seen from the same perspective. For others, the open education movement is not being radical enough in its reconceptualization of the role of universities. Joss Winn asks “Is Open Education being used as a method of compensating for a decline in the welfare state? Is government advocacy of OER a way of tackling resource scarcity in an expanding system of higher education?” Winn and others favour a more social interpretation of openness, which draws on some of the historical trends mentioned above, as well as the strong ethical basis of Stallman’s free software movement. In this interpretation, open education leads to a cooperative university which is “a free association of people who come together to collectively produce knowledge. It is also a political project.”
Even if one ignores such politically explicit aspects of open education there is an unintentional (or maybe intentional) form of cultural imperialism associated with exporting the open education beliefs which are inextricably aligned with open education resources. Dave Cormier suggests that OER can be viewed as a means of exporting an educational model. The power of an global institutional brand, such as MIT, combined with free (as in cost), makes it difficult for local providers to compete, both in terms of cost and voice. As Dave puts it “How are local professors, debating the relative value of their curriculum against the standardizing power of a major university, going to be able to forward their own ideas?”
So even in our definition of open education (or lack of one), our history and practice, there are political dimensions. When it was just straightforward open vs closed the fine differences between these perspectives may not have mattered, but if I had to make a prediction, I'd say that we will see more explicitly political arguments about the direction of open education over the next decade.
Some of you will have seen a report about a survey conducted on the use of Open Course Library (OCL) free, open textbooks. The findings were that use was "extremely limited". Over the 42 courses that could use the textbooks, this amounted to 98,130 possible students, but only 2,386 did, some 2.4%. All that is rather disappointing to say the least, and it left me a little puzzled. Why would uptake be so low? Given the question "do you want to buy this $100 textbook or have this free one?" one might expect more than 2.4% to go for free.
Tony Bates posted a very good response to it which captured much of my feelings. The survey itself raised a number of questions he suggests:
Let us for now, accept that the survey is a true reflection of the state of uptake (although I agree with Tony, using stores as a measure seems an odd way to approach it). This raises other questions about OER adoption. Simply existing is not sufficient for a number of reasons:
What this mostly comes down to is awareness. Given time enough students may pass around knowledge about this material, but to really make an impact OERs have to be competing with large marketing budgets. This represents the next phase in this particular battle for open I would suggest. Having created the content, getting into the system is now the challenge.
One of the common themes you'll see when people complain about rising university costs is the increased cost of administrative staff. This is usually portrayed as simply greed, or laziness on the part of universities, for instance this Wall Street Journal article reports a 37% increase in admin staff from 2001 to 2012. The Center for College Affordability and Productivity has little doubt about the lack of value admin staff add, stating: "You can have a university without administrators, but not without students or faculty. The minimization of administrative costs and bureaucracy should be sought in any university reform. A few decades ago, few universities had more than a small centralized public relations staff."
A report detailed in Inside Higher Ed comes to a similar conclusion: "They waste a lot of money on redundant administrative activities and could probably save money in the long run if they made big changes to their structure". And this article suggests that Pennsylvania universities increase in admin spending rose by 53% from 2001 to 2010. And while he doesn't address admin specifically, Clay Shirky tells us that the Golden Age of higher ed is over because it's unaffordable (see David Kernohan's withering response also).
Now, I ought to confess that I'm married to a university administrator, so I may have more than a little bias in my response to this. What most of these articles conclude is that it is simply greed, or unnecessary bureaucracy that has led to this, with of course, the implicit suggestion that if universities were proper businesses they wouldn't put up with it. Now, I get very frustrated with some of the needless layers of process that have been put in place, and often it seems inflexible and all rather pointless, so I'd admit that I'm sure we could do a bit of a streamlining. But between my wife and I we've been through a fair number of these restructurings, as well as seeing other universities do it, and my general impression is that they don't really produce the admin savings people predict.
One of the common complaints is that "we used to be more efficient and not need as many admin staff". The second part of this is true, we didn't need as many admin staff, but that was because the amount of legislation that universities have to respond to was far less. Think of the following areas, all of which affect universities, and ask yourself whether the associated administration related to them has increased or decreased over the past 20 years:
The reason universities have big, complex administration is because they operate in a big, complex world. Probably far more so than most companies who only have a particular focus and are only concerned with legislation that relates to their niche practice. In the 1970s you only needed one administrator in a department because no-one cared about any of this stuff. Now, you'd be shut down, or face criminal charges for failing to respond to it.
As a test of my hypothesis that university administration has increased in complexity, I did a simple bit of research. I went to the legal database Justis.com and searched for legislation that related to universities. Now there are all sorts of problems with this methodology: I didn't analyse each piece, I didn't strip out repeated legislation, I just counted the number of bills. It doesn't include a lot of things that will relate to universities but not mention them specifically, eg health and safety, and it also won't include all the increased administrative overhead that isn't included in a bill, eg increased demands for reporting on EU funded research projects. So it may well be flawed, but as a simple indicator of the increased administrative burden on universities, it should work to give a general feel for the level of change. My hypothesis would predict a substantial increase. I counted the number of bills from 1974 to 1993 and from 1994 to 2013. The results are shown below:
From 1974 to 1993 there were 262 bills, and from 1994 to 2013, 413, an increase of some 58%. Now I did this in 10 minutes and I suspect it's really a two year research project to really underake it (maybe someone has, please let me know), so I'm happy to be corrected, but I think this gives a good general indication. My guess is that it may underplay the real increase in administration since so much else relates to factors apart from legal duty.
The question then is not so much "why do universities spend so much on admin?" but rather "do we want society to make universities spend this much on admin?". And here people can be a bit hypocritical - they will probably say reduce the admin spend, but then demand robust appeals procedures or sue a university for not taking due care. Which of the areas I've outlined above would you personally be willing to take responsibility for if we reduced the legislation on it?
The point is that these are issues beyond universities, society can't place an increasingly complex legislative and administrative burden on universities and then complain that they spend more money on legislative and administrative tasks. If higher education were truly privatised and run by companies as some wish, then maybe some of this cost could be reduced, mainly because government ministers would listen to entrepreneurs who complained that needless bureacracy was impeding profits. I'm not sure that would lead to better education necessarily, but it may be cheaper. But can we please stop with the "bloody admin doesn't add anything" message?
You know when you're doing two completely unrelated things and your brain forces connections that aren't really there? You think it's genius, everyone else thinks it's painfully laboured? This is one of those posts.
So, I've been away for a week in the middle of Bodmin moor writing some chapters for my Battle for Open book. I came away with just my dog and a week's supply of beer. It's amazing what you get done when there is nothing else to distract you. I have written three chapters this week on MOOCs, the silicon valley narrative and open scholarship. I'm not saying they're good, but they are written.
Anyhow, when I can't bring myself to think about open education anymore, I've been reading Claire Tomalin's well written and nicely balanced biography of Dickens. Because there is nothing else in my head but MOOCs n stuff, I've been making tenuous connections, which I may as well share. Three connections have come to mind:
1) Publish as you go - for about a third of my book I've been taking existing blog posts and adapting them. I worry that this is cheating somehow, but I figure I've been writing the stuff as I go, now I'm pulling it together. Can you plagiarise yourself? Anyway, Dickens reminds me there is nothing new in this. He famously published many of his novels as serialisations, which would then be wrapped up. This strikes me as very hard to do, there is no revisiting it and deciding that character needs to live after all. Compared to Dickens I have it easy. But it does illustrate that content can have more than one mode of existence.
2) Copyright wars - Dickens was rather screwed over by international copyright. British copyright didn't extend to the US so publishers there could just take his work and put out books, making huge sums of money (they adored him in the states), which he saw very little of. I think with his money obsessions I'm not sure Dickens would have embraced CC licensing, but I think he would've been a champion of open textbooks in education.
3) Hard work never killed anyone, oh wait - after reading this quote, I will never complain about being over-committed again:
"Dickens was now committed to the following projects: He had to continue Pickwick in monthly instalments for another year; he had to provide a few more pieces for the Sketches; both his farce and his opera were being published and needed seeing through the press; he had promised a children's book, 'Solomon Bell the Raree Showman' by Christmas; he had to start preparing for his editorship of Bentley's Miscellany, which began in January and for which he must commission articles and also contribute a sixteen page piece of his own every month; Chapman & Hall were hoping for a sequel to Pickwick; Macrone still wanted 'Gabriel Vardon'; and Bentley was expecting two novels."
So that's alright then. Of course, Dickens kept up an impossibly punishing schedule all his life and it contributed to his early death. So not one to follow in that respect.
I’ve been thinking about coherence formation in the learning process for many years (it was a key topic of my phd). Traditionally, coherence of knowledge is formed by the educator through her selection of readings and lectures. The assumption underpinning learning design is something like “decide what’s important and then decide how to best teach it or foster learning activities around it”. When students take a formal course, success is measured by how well they internalize (whatever that means) and repeat back to us what we told them. Most grading and evaluation happens at the intersection where comparisons are made between what the student can demonstrate in relation to what has been taught.
As students advance through their studies, they are asked to begin contributing new knowledge. There aren’t any clear lines around when students should start contributing instead of consuming, but masters level learning is a common demarcation point. I’m drawn more to the work of Bereiter and Scardamalia and their emphasis of knowledge building at all levels of learning, including primary/secondary levels.
I’ve found it difficult to articulate coherence provided by educators in contrast with coherence formed by learners and the growing role of the internet in fragmenting previous models of coherence. Most courses that I teach now do not rely exclusively on one or two texts. Instead, a bricolage of readings, videos, and other mutlimedia resources form course content. This fragmentation, however, generates a lack of coherence. Learning is the process of creating coherence – of seeing how pieces (ideas, concepts) are connected. I found the best description of this process in a recent article about Hola (while most articles about Hola emphasize “a way to get blocked content”, a simple definition is difficult. Hola does a variety of things: peer to peer content sharing, sharing idle computing capacity, VPN, a way to circumvent blocked content, etc). I’ll take it a step beyond and say that this is the most prescient statement regarding the future of learning that I have read in years:
Our processing power has increased so much faster than our networking speed that it’s easier to piece together stuff from all these nodes than to get a coherent piece of media from far away on the network
For my book I've been writing about why it was that MOOCs came to such prominence in the popular press in a way that OERs didn't. One key aspect is that they fit the Silicon Valley narrative.
The model of Silicon Valley provides such a powerful narrative that it has come to dominate thinking far beyond that of computing. For instance Staton declares that the degree is doomed because Silicon Valley avoids hiring people with computer science degrees, and prefers those with good community presence on software developer sites. From this he concludes this model is applicable across all domains and vocations. It hardly needs adding that Staton is the CEO of an educational company.
There are several necessary elements to the silicon valley narrative: firstly a technological fix is both possible and in existence; secondly that external forces will change, or disrupt, an existing sector; thirdly that wholesale revolution is required; lastly the solution is provided by commerce.
The education is broken meme satisfies the third condition of the silicon valley narrative. If it is accepted as broken, then only a revolution is sufficient to resolve it. MOOCs appeal to the first and second of these conditions. They are a very technologically driven solution, particularly in their xMOOC instantiation. Thrun famously worked at Google after all. The artificial intelligence promise of adaptive learning systems and sophisticated automatic assessment is both appealing in that it seems futuristic and aligns with the silicon valley technological solution approach.
Although Thrun, Koller and Ng all worked at Stanford, and so could thus be seen as part of the establishment, Thrun in particular has been cast as the education outsider. In order to satisfy this need for an external party coming to the aid of the sector, the Sal Khan has often been proposed as the godfather of MOOCs.
Another important aspect that appeals to silicon valley, entrepreneurs and journalists alike is that of disruption. It is a term that has been applied much more broadly than its original concept, to the point where it almost meaningless, and rarely critically evaluated. Dvorak complains that it is essentially meaningless, stating that “There is no such thing as a disruptive technology. There are inventions and new ideas, many of which fail while others succeed. That's it.” There remains however a disruption obsession inherent in the silicon valley narrative. As Watters argues, disruption has become somewhat akin to a cultural myth amongst silicon valley: “when I say then, that “disruptive innovation” is one of the great myths of the contemporary business world, particularly of the tech industry, I don’t mean by “myth” that Clayton Christensen’s explanation of changes to markets and business models and technologies is a falsehood… my assigning “myth” to “disruptive innovation” is meant to highlight the ways in which this narrative has been widely accepted as unassailably true.”
Nobody wants to just create a useful tool, it has to disrupt an industry. Education, perceived as slow, resistant to change and old-fashioned is seen as ripe for disruption. Christensen, Horn and Johnson themselves have deemed it so, stating that “disruption is a necessary and overdue chapter in our public schools.” Hence the Avalanche report justifies itself by claiming that all of the key “elements of the traditional university are threatened by the coming avalanche. In Clayton Christensen’s terms, universities are ripe for disruption.” In his criticism of the impact of OERs, Kortemeyer states that they “OERs have not noticeably disrupted the traditional business model of higher education”, because for something to be successful, only disruption counts.
We can see many of these elements in essays on MOOCs. Let us take Clay Shirky’s essay “Your Massively Open Offline College Is Broken”, as it generated a lot of interest and was considered to be a thoughtful analysis.
In terms of our narrative essentials, Shirky even has the “education is broken” meme in the title of his piece, and later states it boldly: “I have a different answer: School is broken and everyone knows it.” He sets out a reasonably convincing case about the finance issues associated with higher education, although he does not question finance models for higher education in general. Shirky cites a book "Don't go back to school" which interviewed 100 people who had dropped out of school and gone on to be successful. Largely they then self-teach themselves using internet resources, an example of the Silicon Valley model being applied broadly.
In his previous essay, Napster, Udacity and the Academy he compares the impact of MOOCs on higher education with that of the MP3 on the music industry. This conforms to the silicon valley narrative, proposing a revolution and disruption: “Higher education is now being disrupted; our MP3 is the massive open online course (or MOOC)”. It also suggests that the commercial, external provider will be the force of change, stating that “and our Napster is Udacity, the education startup”.
All of the elements can also be seen in Clark’s piece where he declares that (referring to Khan) "It took a hedge fund manager to shake up education because he didn’t have any HE baggage." It appeals to the silicon valley narrative to have a saviour riding in from outside HE to save it. If the influence of those inside higher education such as Wiley, Downes, Siemens, etc is acknowledged then that weakens the appeal of the story.
David Kernohan performed a semantic analysis of eleven popular MOOC articles. Taking Kernohan’s articles to conduct simple word counts, then the word “disrupt” (or derivative) occurred 12 times, “revolution” 16, and “company” 17. Obviously this is a selective choice of terms (“open” appears 48 times for comparison), but the presence of these terms indicates a particular framing of the MOOC story that allies with the silicon valley narrative.
We can now see why MOOCs proved so popular with journalists. Firstly they seem to offer a solution to the education is broken meme, which had been gaining currency. Secondly, they met all the criteria for the silicon valley narrative: they proposed a technological solution, they could be framed as the result of external forces, and they provided a revolutionary model. Nearly all the early MOOC articles framed them as disruptive to the standard higher education model. And they were established as separate companies outside of higher education, thus providing interest around business models and potential profits by disrupting the sector. This heady mix proved too irresistible for many technology or education journalists.
This analysis also reveals why other open education initiatives haven’t garnered as much attention. They often seek to supplement or complement education, thus ruining the education is broken argument. Similarly, they are often conducted by those who work in higher education, which undermines the narrative of external agents promoting change on a sector that is out of touch. And lastly, they are supported by not-for-profit institutions, which does not fit the model of new, disruptive businesses emerging. If one wanted to make an argument for disruption, then open textbooks could make a convincing case, since they undermine an established business with digital, low-cost alternatives, but as projects like OpenStax are not-for-profit, they do not fit the silicon valley narrative as neatly as MOOCs.
One further aspect of the silicon valley and disruption narrative is that it demands a ‘year zero’ mentality. It is a much more convincing story if someone can be said to have invented a new way of working. Because complete genesis invention is rare, most work is tinkering with old ideas and improving them, this often requires either a wilful ignorance of past work, and an imaginative reworking of it.
<broadcast tower http://www.flickr.com/photos/7715592@N03/2177026879/>
When I was an undergraduate a friend and I had one of those (no doubt drink fuelled) discussions that we felt were very important. It was based around the idea of what would it be like if everyone lived to be 1000 years old? We decided that it would be unlikely that anyone would stay with the same partner for that length of time. Not because you didn't love them, but because in order to stay sane you would need to change yourself. Otherwise you'd just go mad being the same person all the time - the 670 year old you is likely to be different from the 130 year old you. We also felt that morality would change under such a dramatic shift - could you really live to 1000 years old and not be in trouble at some point? So having a criminal record might not be unusual anymore ("yeah, I had a brief fraudster phase in my 570s").
While we may not be living to 1000 yet, I think we're seeing a similar need to shift morality when it comes to networking. The twitter mob is now operating on a daily basis, as a number of recent examples have shown. The Justine Sacco story attracted much attention - being sacked while in flight for posting a racist joke. To be clear, what she posted was offensive and stupid, but as this Forbes piece argues, "at no point in history has it been so easy to destroy your entire life so quickly in so few words". And while sympathy with Sacco may be in short supply, the twitter mob is not very discerning: this teenage girl received lots of abuse after posting a joke which most people failed to appreciate.
While Sacco and other twitter morality outrages are based on offensive tweets, they are often no more offensive than the type of conversation one overhears in the pub. And yet someone won't have their life ruined for saying such things in a pub, but if a broadcaster said such things we would rightly be outraged by them. And this seems to be the difference, we are applying broadcast morality to personal communication.
Of course, you can say 'treat everything you say online as broadcast', and that's a pretty good model. But to bring us back to my 1000 year lifestyle change in morality, just as we would have to get used to people having a criminal record, so we might need to get used to someone having been the subject of a twitter mob. As pervasive technology gets used more extensively, those pub conversations may be broadcast without the speaker's knowledge. Most of us (in my world) are liberal, and don't go around saying offensive things either in pubs or on twitter, but can any of us say that over the course of our lives, something you've said couldn't be taken out of context, and be the subject of a twitter storm?
I'd like to think that we're going through an evolutionary phase and this massive connectivity is something we'll grow accustomed to, and adjust our social norms. But as the tragic gun crime stories from the US remind us, we're not always that great at adjusting society to meet the new possibilities of technology. In the mean time, avoid being part of a twitter mob, no matter how justified it is - it's bad for your soul.
In a meeting with a group of doctoral students last week, one individual shared her challenging, even emotionally draining, experience in taking her first doctoral course. Much of her experience was not focused on the learning or content. Instead, she shared her self-doubts, her frustrations of integrating doctoral studies into her personal and professional life, the fatigue of learning, and feeling overwhelmed. Personal reflections such as these are important but are usually not considered when discussing learning and being a successful learner.
In education, seemingly in tandem with the advancement of technology and online learning, growing emphasis is placed on making the learning process more efficient. Through a barrage of instructional techniques and technologies, researchers and administrators strive to reduce the time that it takes a learner master a topic or complete a degree. While this is a laudable goal, it is an impoverished and malnourished view of education.
Learning involves many dimensions, but triggered by my conversation with my doctoral students, two are relevant here: epistemological and ontological. Epistemology is concerned with knowledge. In the educational process, that means the focus is on helping students to learn the knowledge (concepts, ideas, relationships) that a teacher or designer has designated as being important. Most thinking on improving education centres on the epistemological aspect of learning. While epistemology addresses “knowing”, ontology is concerned with “being” or “becoming”. For many students, this is the most substantial barrier to learning. Our education system and teaching practices largely overlook ontological principles. Instead, the focus is on knowledge development at the expense of “learner becoming”.
Learning is vulnerability. When we learn, we make ourselves vulnerable. When we engage in learning, we communicate that we want to grow, to become better, to improve ourselves. When I first started blogging, I had a sense of fear with every post (“did that sound stupid?”), loss of sleep soul-searching when a critical comment was posted, and envy when peers posted something brilliant (“wow, why didn’t I think of that?”). When a student posts an opinion in a discussion forum or when someone offers a controversial opinion – these are vulnerability-inducing expressions. On a smaller scale, posting a tweet, sharing an image, or speaking into the void can be intimidating for a new user. (I’m less clear about how being vulnerable becomes craving attention for some people as they get immersed in media!). While the learning process can’t be short-circuited, and the ambiguity and messiness can’t be eliminated, it is helpful for educators to recognize the social, identity, and emotional factors that influence learners. Often, these factors matter more than content/knowledge elements in contributing to learner success.
At the MOOC research conference last week Amy Collier gave an impassioned call for courage in relation to MOOCs, and in the way I interpreted it, openness in general. As she put it "some things are too important not to have courage".
This quote came back to me last week, when I was in discussions about open access publishing at the OU. The responses from others in different departments were sensible and cautious, a wait and see strategy. I couldn't disagree with them, but part of me felt, 'remember when we used to take risks and do stuff because we thought it was right?' This isn't a moan about that decision, but rather that it made me consider the wider context in universities.
My concern is this - post-austerity, and particularly post-fees in the UK, all universities have become risk averse and cautious. There are lots of factors to consider. I don't blame an individual - it's not a great outcome to take a risk, get a bad NSS score and have to lay off staff the following year because of reduced enrolments. But I think this cautious approach seeps into the culture and takes years to overcome. Imagine you are a new academic who takes on a management role, sub-dean say. You are being enculturated into how a sub-dean behaves by observing others. If the appropriate sub-dean type behaviour is sensible caution, that is the mode you adopt. And then this gets passed down to the next incomer, and so on. Twenty years from now you find yourself asking "where did all our innovators go?". But if you reverse that and have people taking appropriate but occassional risky decisions, then this becomes the behaviour you adopt.
So I make a plea to all of those in universities, especially myself as I lack it on a daily basis - have the occasional flash of courage.
<Even puppy power wasn't enough to salvage my year>
For the past few years (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012), I end them with a post reviewing my running over the previous 12 months, and make some tenuous connection to education. No-one cares, but hey, it's my blog, and I like to plan this post when I'm out running, as it gives me something to fix on. So here goes.
This year started out with big plans. I signed up for a marathon in January, a 10K February, half marathons in March and April, just a 5k in May, and marathons in June and July. That was the plan. It started badly and got worse, in a year of woe on the running front.
I was training ok for the January marathon and did a 20 mile long run on December 20th 2012. I didn't know it at the time but I was coming down with flu that very day. The next day I was feverish, shaking and wiped out. The whole family came down with it. Christmas day 2012 was cancelled, our holiday was postponed. Full-on, miserable, definitely not just a cold, type flu. This lasted for about 3 weeks, before I could get out running again. I could barely do 5 miles then, so the marathon was out of the question. Epic fail.
I regrouped, and concentrated on the 10K in February. I forgot my Garmin when it came to this, and so had no idea of pace. I went out too fast (I was like Simon Pegg in Run Fatboy Run), and slowed considerably but actually finished in a decent time (for me) of 49.50. This was a race PB for 10K. Minor win.
Then I had a note saying the March half-marathon had been cancelled due to insufficient numbers. Never mind, I'll concentrate on the April New Forest half-marathon. Come the race date, it was postponed due to ice and rescheduled for a day when I was in Bali for the OCWC conference. Epic Fail.
I did discover the wonderful parkrun though. Every Saturday you can go down and run a 5K free of charge, and get a time posted on their website. In a world of evil, the parkrun is an unalloyed thing of goodness. I went a few times in May and got my time down to about 24 mins. Minor win.
I abandoned the June marathon as I hadn't maintained enough fitness and decided to concentrate all my efforts now on the July Tenby marathon. If I could do one marathon this year, it would still be all worthwhile, I could salvage the mess of the year with this one race. I trained dilligently, if not enthusiastically. I wasn't going to get a good time, but I should be able to get round. Come the day before the marathon I was planning my arrival time when I had a sudden thought: "That's strange, I haven't received anything from the organisers". I checked emails with increasing panic. I rang the organisers. No, it seems I had registered for all the other races back in December, but this one I had forgotten to actually put my name down for. It was full, there was no way of running the race. Epic, epic fail.
I entered a slough of despondency then. I hadn't been enjoying the running, but at least it had some purpose. I picked myself up for a late entry into the September 10k, and managed another PB of 49.43. A minor win. My Cardiff Half time was average for me at 1.55.
And then I lost all running mojo. I ended the year with a desultory total of 880 miles, the lowest in 4 years. I could have reached the 1000 mark easily if I'd kept up any decent running schedule in November and December, but I really couldn't be bothered.
Why? Well, I'm doing an MA in history and as they got nearer the end it demanded more time. And I'm writing a book, and managing research projects, etc. I found that a day would be stressful if I had to fit running in as well as these things, but if I took it out, then suddenly the day fitted together more neatly. Sarah, my wife, has a theory that you can only keep three plates spining effectively, for example work, family and one serious hobby. You can have more on the go, but the others suffer. You have plenty of other minor interests, for example I like reading literature, but if I was to go at it seriously, one of the others would have to suffer. Completing MA and maintaining running has proven difficult.
But ultimately, that is an excuse, one can always find the time. It's only an hour here and there with the occassional long run. So, I need a plan, and it is this: next year I am going to be less ambitious in the knowledge that once I started failing this year, it gave me permission to carry on doing so. I've signed up for the Windermere marathon in July, and I'm not going to stress about time - a 5 hour marathon is better than no marathon. This way I hope to get back to enjoying running, as any run I do, regardless of time, is a success.
So, now for the tenuous link to learning. For a start, the title could stand for any edtech review of the year, but I won't go over that again. Instead I think the analogy is that in learning you can coast for a while or you can overstretch yourself, and then you need to reflect and plan for some success to make it seem wortwhile. This may be completing a Masters, or finishing a MOOC, or just reading that novel or learning that programme language you always promised yourself. Failure is part of the pattern, but now that learning, like running, is so diverse, there's always one more way to tackle it.
In my mini-series of posts on papers there is a brand new one that I am rather proud of. The paper came out of conversations with Eileen Scanlon just after we heard that she was to become the new Regius Chair in Open Education. The focus was around the “known knowns” of open education, particularly as there has been a slightly strange period of reinvention of ideas for online and distance education around MOOCs. The idea of known knowns is actually quite useful (but the resonance with Donald Rumfeld’s statement is not) and so we have refined the approach leading to a short (2-page) article that is appearing in the Educational Focus section of Science Magazine. This reflects a very kind connection from Candace Thille (my co-Director on OLnet when she was with the Open Learning Initiative at Carnegie Mellon University) and the great support of Brad Wible the editor at Science.
Working with Eileen has been a very good experience and has taken us back to looking at the history and writings on what we know through 40 years of being The Open University, coping with the way things are changing but also the way things remain the same. The article is very short and had many references trimmed in the edit so I hope we can go on to produce a longer version giving more of the background. Brevity does mean focus, and I think that we have kept the four main lessons we wanted to communicate and also some of the lessons that matter more for science education (Eileen’s own focus area for many years).
The article also grew a stronger link to MOOCs. The first version tried hard not to mention them as there is actually much more going on in open education than just MOOCs. The title in the end though does capture some of the intent to encourage people to not reinvent, rather learn. The four lessons from the article can be summarised as:
The article itself is now out in the 20 December edition of Science, though they have a relatively enlightened attitude to republishing so I think we will be able to provide open access to our article in time.
A few posts back I posted Katy Jordan's data on completion rates for MOOCs. It's set me thinking that we're probably being harsh in terms of how we define enrollment on MOOCs, which in turn makes completion rates look worse than they actually are. In formal education there are different ways of defining who has enrolled on a course. I'm pretty sure there is a cooling off period, so if a student drops out within the first week or so, they don't count as having enrolled in the first place (can anyone confirm this from their uni?).
So, taking MOOC enrollment figures to be the number who signed up for a MOOC even if they never come in to it is always going to give harsh figures. It's a bit like saying university courses enrollments are all those who come to an open day. Maybe a better figure would be the number of students active after 1 week. This is your baseline figure as those are the students who have actually started the course.
Another graph Katy plotted was the average number of students enrolled across weeks:
I stupidly didn't get the data from Katy before she went on maternity leave, so actual analysis will have to wait until she's back. But just using this graph as a rough guide we can do some calculations. At the end of week 1 it looks like to me that there are about 55% of students still active from the week 0 point. So, if we took this 55% as our starting figure, we know that the average completion rate was 12.6%. This would now be 22.9% (I have probably done something very wrong with the maths here, but bear with it for rough estimate). Now, approximately 23% completion with open learners isn't too bad.
When I ran T171 we had around 12,000 students and our completion rates were around 40-50% with open access learners. And that was with expensive and intensive tutorial support, so I know how hard it is to get open entry level 1 learners to complete (mind you it was a 28 week course, if I'd stopped it at 7 weeks the completion rate would have been nearer 70-80%).
But MOOCs can't have it both ways, they've been boasting about those massive enrollment figures, which take into account everyone who raised an eyebrow at their course. We know from Katy's data that the median enrollment (from our data) was 18941. So if we take my rough 55% number, this comes down to 10417. Which is certainly not 100K, but it's not too bad either.
So, as always, when you dig into it, the picture is more subtle:: MOOCs don't enrol as many as first thought but their completion rate isn't as bad either. That's not a very snappy headline though.
With apologies for the potty mouth title. If you want a really good review of the year from an ed tech perspective then I suggest reading Audrey Watters' series of posts. One thing that I found myself doing repeatedly this year was staring open-mouthed at my screen as I read yet another 'discovery' or 'innovation' from US based silicon valley start-ups relating to education. It seems that if you want to be noticed then having no shame in pretending you have invented something is a real advantage. And journalists really do love a 'new and shiny' story. Here are some of my faves:
The SPOC - don't want your MOOC to be massive and open, then try a Small Private one. Or as we've called them for the past 15 years "an online course".
Hybrid Pedagogy - Clayton Christensen discovered “a fundamentally new concept [in] the world of disruptive innovation.” Or as we call it "blended learning"
MOOC based learning and innovation on campus - Coursera announced that it was working with universities to deliver MOOCs on campus. Or as we call it "elearning".
Creating quality courses is hard and expensive - who knew?
Retention with open access is difficult - again, why did no-one tell them this?
Massive open online content - again, as we call them "OERs"
I hope next year isn't as dumb.
And indeed is published every week.
I'm referring to Stephen Downes' OLWeekly, where he gives a round up of all the material he's commented on that week. Like many of you I subscribe to the email, and when it came through on Friday, I was struck by how much great stuff there was in there this week. I thought "this could be an edited book". So I decided to see just what it would be like as a book.
To be clear, I'm not suggesting it should be a book, in many ways the book is an inferior format since you lose the comments and the media. But it's an interesting comparison. We know what editing a book takes, and if someone said they were going to edit a book every week, we'd think they were insane. So, I went through OLWeekly, and copied Stephen's comments and the article into a PDF. I missed some out because they were too long or they were newspaper/magazine articles who would probably send drones after me for copying their material. If I have included anyone's content here and they want it removed, let me kow. I'm not really interested in distributing it, just the point of comparison. The resultant PDF was 252 pages long. You can have a look for yourself: Download Downes_weekly. I didn't bother with any formatting, and some images are missing, I only had an hour.
There are two interesting things that the exercise raised for me. The first is to recognise the great work Stephen does every week. What I admire about Stephen most is his endurance. I might have had an idea to do this, would have done about three and then given up. Stephen reminds me of an artist who goes in and out of fashion, produces albums of varying interest and quality, but what you come to admire most is their durability and their resolution to keep doing interesting things. Think Neil Young. With not much more effort in terms of copyediting and layout this could be a proper book, and the range of material in there is truly impressive. And he does this every week. We recognise book editing, but web curation isn't normally acknowledged, there is no yardstick for measuring it. So comparison with book editorship is useful from that perspective at least.
The second point is that if you were to try and create a book that covered these topics it would probably take you a year or so. You'd need to organise a publishing deal, cajole the writers, sort out rights, get it through copyediting, etc. When blogging was all fresh we used to comment a lot about the freedom it gave, and make these sort of comparisons, but we take it for granted now. It's worth noting it occassionally though - this is still pretty amazing stuff, and it calls to mind Scott Leslie's classic Just Share post. It really is the most efficient way to operate.
And if all that wasn't interesting, here is a picture of Stephen on a steer:
Well, my previous post on data for MOOC completion rates caused a bit of a kerfuffle on Twitter. It was interpreted by some as saying "ONLY completion rates matter". And also of not taking into account other factors such as what learners who don't complete get from a MOOC. That seems rather like criticising Alien for not being a rom-com to my mind - they're doing different things. This research was showing one aspect with the quantitative data available. It is part of a bigger picture which ethnographic studies, surveys and more data analysis will complete. It wasn't attempting to be the full stop on MOOC research.
Anyway, here is another graph that Katy created, showing attrition rates of active users (those that come into the course and do something, not just those who complete assessments) across disciplines:
That's a pretty consistent pattern. If we saw it nature we'd give it some name like "The MOOC attrition law". My interest is as a course designer, so given that the drop-off pattern seems fairly robust, what does it mean for design? (Doug will have issues about the power-lawness of this)
I think there are two responses (but maybe you can think of more).
Design for retention
The first is to say that completion is a desired metric. There may be courses where you really do want as many people as possible to complete. Imagine you were running a remedial maths course for instance, then it won't help your learners much if they only cover a third of the subject matter they need for whatever purpose (Bridge2 Success got learners through maths so they could get onto an employment program, so completion was very important here).
In this case you need to address the 'problem' of drop-out, because it is a problem for you. There might be a number of ways you do this: by adding in more feedback, using badges to motivate people, creating support structures, supplementing with face to face study groups, breaking your longer course into shorter ones, etc. The point is that you design in features that aim to improve completion.
Design for selection
The second design approach is to say that completion isn't an important metric. Here you accept the MOOC attrition law and design the experience with that in mind. I have some sympathy with Stephen Downes when he says no-one finishes a newspaper but we don't talk about people 'dropping out' of a newspaper (I've heard him say this but can't find a link - anyone?). So even to talk about drop-out is to map the wrong metaphor to MOOCs. His analogy breaks down a bit however because not all readers drop out at page 7 of a newspaper, they dip into different sections. People tend to drop out of MOOCs by week 3. It's not as if they're coming in and doing a bit from week 7 and a bit from week 5, and then leaving. They're simply not getting to those later weeks. And even if you are of the 'completion doesn't matter' camp, I'm sure most course designers don't think the content in week 5 is half the value of that in week 1.
So, in this design approach you might break away from the linear course model, to allow people to do the 'newspaper' type selection. A course might be structured around themes for instance, and each one around largely independent activities (I tried to design H817open a bit like this). So in this case completion really doesn't matter, learners take the bits they want.
In both cases I would suggest that the completion rate data is useful for you. In the first case you know what type of completion rate to expect, and in the second one it drives you to be more innovative in design approach. And that's the point about the research - it helps inform decisions.
By the way - this is my fifth blog post in 5 days. Just in case Jim Groom berates me for not blogging often enough...
As I mentioned in the previous post, I am doing some Gates funded research on MOOCs. My part was learning design analysis, while Katy Jordan has been looking at factors influencing completion rates. All this work is Katy's, I take no credit for it. She would blog it, but is about to have her first baby any day now, and strangely that has taken priority over blogging about MOOCs, so she said I could blog it on her behalf.
There will be a paper that details the full results and methodology, so I'm just giving some highlights here. Katy collected completion data from 221 different MOOCs. The range was limited to ones where we could get this data, so is biased by a couple of big data sets from Coursera and Open2Study. This last one in particular has good completion rates so may have biased the overall results somewhat.
If we start with enrolment figures first then, the picture looks like this:
(N = 220; Median = 18941; Minimum = 95; Maximum = 226,652). Although the really big numbers get the headlines, there are a lot of courses in the 0-10000 range.
Completion rates across this sample are:
(N = 129; Median = 12.6%; Minimum = 0.7%; Maximum = 52.1%). This bimodal distribution may be a result of those Open2Study courses. Those guys appear to be doing something right in terms of completion.
Does enrollment numbers relate to completers? The answer is yes, there is a significant negative correlation, ie the more people who enrol then the lower the percentage who complete. This single graph might well put paid to the idea that we can educate the world with massive courses:
Yeah, I hear you say, but it's not completion that's important but how many people are active. I'm afraid that shows exactly the same picture, ie there is a significant negative correlation between number of active users and the percentage who complete:
Does the reputation of the university matter? The answer is: possibly. There is a positive correlation between the Times Higher Ed score of a university and enrolments:
But this could just be because more elite universities have joined the elite clubs of MOOC providers. As with all correlation we can't imply causality, it may not be the university reputation that leads directly to the higher enrolments but a related factor. Anyway, it turns out that reputation has no effect on completion rates:
Have enrolments increased or decreased over time I hear you ask. Well, there is a negative correlation over time with enrolments, so numbers on individual MOOCs have declined. This may be that with more MOOCs available people can find the one that suits them better, instead of everyone doing AI, but if you wanted to be all sensationalist (I'm looking at you, journalists) you could say it indicates that the MOOC bubble has burst:
Have completion rates changed over time? Yes, in the opposite direction, there is a positive correlation with completion and date. This could mean people are getting better at MOOCs, and if the trend continued those completion rates would be less of an issue. But I suspect it is related to the point above, in that there are more MOOCs around so people are taking ones more closely related to their interests, so more are completing:
(see http://www.katyjordan.com/timeline for more detail)
Does the course length have an impact on completion? You bet, a negative correlation with course length, so the longer your course, the lower the percentage who see it through. This is probably obvious, but it shows that if you get to 12+ weeks it's probably just some bloke in a shack in Arkansas left:
This raises the question, should we create MOOCs of 2-3 weeks in length (many of Open2Study courses are this long, which may account for the good completion rates)? And if we're creating 2 week MOOCs, how are those different from OERs? UPDATE - see Doug's comments below. He makes the point that obviously the longer a course goes on, the more people will drop out. So we can't say length causes drop out, although even in this respect, you might be better off having 2 x 3week MOOCs than 1 x 6 week one, simply because you catch more people (if completion is important that is).
And a tantalising one to leave you with: does gender influence completion rates? We can't tell as only a few data sets included breakdown by gender, 13 in this case. So we couldn't draw any conclusions from such a small sample, and Katy will probably tell me off for including this, but I do so as a plea to others to release data. From the sample we had, there is a possible positive influence on the percentage of female students and completion, ie women tend to complete more than men, who no doubt wander off to watch football during week 3:
We looked at a number of other factors including assessment type, MOOC type and platform, but the variation in sample sizes makes conclusions from these difficult to form. This data raises a number of interesting questions, which being correlations it can't answer on its own. For me these are:
1) Can we improve those completion rates from around 10%?
2) Are learners getting better at MOOCs?
3) Should we limit ourselves to short MOOCs?
4) What demographic data may influence completion rates?
5) The big one is, does completion even matter? (If it does, then MOOCs probably aren't the solution to your problem)
I got some Gates funding for the MOOC Research Initiative to look at two things: completion data, and learning design MOOCs. The first part allowed Katy Jordan to finish the work she had started in mapping various factors from over 200 MOOCs that influence completion. You can see more of her work here, and I'll blog on that later.
My part has been using the tools we've developed at the OU for learning design, building on Grainne Conole's work. We use two main tools: the Activity Planner and the Module Map. The first maps student activity across 6 categories, eg assimilative, productive, etc. This is a good way to think about how you want to teach a particular topic. The second one looks at the resources you will need in order to create those activities, and maps them under four headings: Content, Guidance, Demonstration & Communication.
So far I've only done the Module Map applied to 14 MOOCs, chosen from a range of providers and to give both x and cMOOC types. I have created two representations. The first is the Resource Type which shows the range of different media used (video, article, text, audio, etc). Here's an example:
The second representation is more interesting and maps the number of resources used under each of the four categories given above. Here is an example:
Now there are lots of caveats around this. For a start it's a subjective interpretation (Sheila MacNeill and I did the mapping). Secondly it counts number of resources, not length. So 3 x 10 min videos counts as 3 whereas 1 x 30 minute video is just 1. But nonetheless, I think it gives a good indication of the overall weighting in a course. Here is an example of what I think is a fairly typical MOOC, which actually came up for both x and cMOOCs:
Here is an example of a more extreme end of the xMOOC spectrum, with a heavy emphasis on content:
And this is what a more cMOOC looks like (this is DS106):
I was keen to emphasise that it's not the case that one design is 'better' than another, but rather they are doing different things. Sometimes you might want the content approach, and other times you might want a more activity/community centric approach.
In my talk someone suggested they are like food labelling, and that's how I'd like to develop them. You could imagine four or five 'types' so learners, and designers, could decide what type of MOOC this one was.
In the next phase we will develop some more of the activity profiles for MOOCs to examine in more detail what learners are doing (or what the course designers think they should be doing). But anyway, it feels like a fruitful way of examining them. You can find all the maps on this wordpress blog I've created.
<Dallas deathstar in the snow - this may, or may not, be a metaphor>
I was at the MOOC research initiative conference in Dallas, Texas last week. As Jim and others have reported, we got caught in icemageddon, but that's a whole other (war) story. I'll be doing a few posts about the conference. It was a fantastic meeting, well done George Siemens, Amy Collier and Tanya Joosten for putting it together. I got to have some great conversations, and meet people I've know online for years. Which is by way of apology for my first post being a bit negative.
This one concerns one aspect of the conference that I am having difficulty articulating, so I'm going to try and work it through in this post. There was a data strand to the presentations, and I went to a few of these. There is some fascinating stuff being done, particularly when you have analytics on so many learners. But I also had a vague sense of unease about some of these.
They were often presented by super-smart, young computer-science researchers from privileged universities: Carnegie-Mellon, Stanford, Harvard. I don't have anything against super-smart, young or computer science people, or anyone from those universities (some of my best friends are young people :). But there was something a bit, well, cold, about it all (and not just because of the wind chill factor of -10). People were nodes, and they could be manipulated to move from peripheries to the center by tweaking certain elements. It was easy to forget you were talking about learners, and not sales of baked beans.
But I think we need this research, it's useful and can tell us a lot about what's going on. Candace Thrall was stuck at the airport so couldn't give her presentation, but a colleague gave it on her behalf. She mentioned that one of the transitions we were going through was from a theory-led one to an evidence based one. Prior to this Jim Groom was telling me about Mike Caulfield suggesting we were in post-theory now, where only the big-data mattered (this was from a book I think, if anyone knows which one, let me know).
UPDATE: Mike has done a great post elaborating on the post-theory debate here. It explains what I was trying to get at in this post.
I felt I had a glimpse of that post-theory world, and I wasn't sure I liked it. We may have been too theory-heavy before, where the evidence was inconsequential, because hey, we have a nice theory. But the pendulum swing to lack of theory where we only care about the evidence seems to lose sight of the people in the system. So I guess my plea to the super-smart, young computer science researchers at ivy league institutions who are now getting into to education is - don't ignore the bearded old guy with a bunch of theories in his back pocket, we need those too.
Like Dallas, education should be warm and welcoming, and the danger is that data fetishisation will make it like the post-apocalyptic Dallas I experienced.
<This is how we do protest in Wales>
We have a new issue of JIME out, which is a special issue on the OER 13 conference. There are some excellent papers, so go read them. Then, when you've read all those, read my opinion piece, The Battle for Open.
I'm going to write a book about this over the next few months, so if you think it's an awful idea, please let me know. The article is effectively the first chapter of that book, which sets out the overall argument. My argument goes something like this: Openness has been victorious in many ways, but at this point of victory the real struggle begins. If you look at openness in research, teaching, publication scholarship, then it's hard to argue that openness hasn't been successful over the last few years in establishing itself as a core approach in higher education. It isn't something just a few oddballs bang on about now, it has moved to the centre of discourse (and, more importantly, funding).
And yet it doesn't feel like it should. We aren't seeing David Wiley leading triumphant processions down Wall Street. The MOOC invasion and backlash is the most visible part of all this, but I think that is just representative of a wider story. I try to articulate why I see it as a 'battle', giving three reasons:
1) There is real conflict between different visions
2) There are considerable spoils to be won
3) The victor writes history, so there is a battle for narrative taking place
What I want to do then in the book is explore this victory/battle dilemma for a number of areas, and then come to some conclusions. My main hypothesis is that open education isn't an interesting subset of education now, it is education. And so if you care about education you should care about the direction that openness takes. We have made mistakes in the past by outsourcing issues, such as selling off university presses or buying in LMSs. This meant education no longer controlled or had much of a say in core parts of its key functions. We are repeating this mistake with MOOCs and commercial companies. Openness cuts across all of these and so I see it as the key principle that educators and universities need to engage with.
As you can probably tell, it'll be a struggle to control the polemic, but I hope it will be a reasoned, well argued book with plenty of research and evidence, and I'll keep the spitty, table-thumping to a minimum.