The college in transition

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.

2 Responses to “The college in transition”

  1. Jacques Cool

    Yes, “balancing existing hierarchies with the impact of ubiquitous connectivity and pervasive proximity” is now an organizational high-wire act in some instances. The drive to put forward new ways of “doing college” is quickly challenged by important needs to 1. Demystify (social media for learning, par exemple), 2. Empower teachers and admin in ways to harness this connectivity, 3. Articulate a proactive user policy within an open network infrastructure, and 4. have the millennial students harness this connectivity in ways they have not seen too many times before (just because you text 30 times a day, that you write on your FB wall and upload videos doesn’t equate to having integrated innovative uses of communication tools learning. Growing up digital doesn’t automatically equate to living the web through critical thinking lenses).
    The vision is there, some innovative practices are emerging and shared by social media, the networks are starting to be reconfigured to enable openness, in a secure way, and teachers are starting (emphasize starting) to explore new ways. The change is incremental. Will it suffice? Not sure.


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