I really enjoyed my visit to Algonquin College in Ottawa today. I met many motivated educational change agents who are looking at how they can improve their learning environment, with and without technology. The campus is home to a wide range of students, though I was surprised that most are under 24 years of age. I had expected more mid-career students
I must admit that on arrival this morning (using the highly efficient Ottawa transit system), I found the new construction trades building to be quite stunning.
As the opening keynote speaker, my job was talk about some of the bigger issues facing Canadian colleges today. One of the topics was the appearance of new open, online offerings from US universities like Stanford, Harvard, Princeton and MIT. If these folks are offering free courses, why would you want to take the bus to a community college, one might ask? Here’s an interesting perspective on what EdX might mean.
Perhaps these new(ish) models, like MOOC’s, will address some of the issues facing higher education, as I heard a few stories of students being completely tuned-out of the formal education process.
Like most organizations adapting to the networked society, the college is trying to balance its existing hierarchies (there are many) with the impact of ubiquitous connectivity & pervasive proximity.
It will be interesting to see how the shift to a mobile campus develops and what external forces will influence the direction of this college. I think colleges, with their work-oriented programmes, are in a much more resilient postion than their brethren at four year universities. But on the other hand, I’m not a futurist. I just tried to show how communication revolutions lead to fundamental shifts in how we organize work, and how this changes our relationship with knowledge, and society’s view of education.
It’s perpetual Beta.