Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The great disruption in education is finally here

I just pinched myself.  I am so excited to be part of a sector that is undergoing such revolutionary change.  On one hand I am surprised I would feel this way and be ready to be part of it, on the flip side, its the challenge I've been waiting for. 

Business Mechanix, are thought leaders in the Tertiary Education sector, globally- we know education and technology and know intimately how to combine the two.  We are asked to sit on panels overseas about technology in education and are nominees for awards on a regular basis with our education solutions.

This is why I am so excited.  Our team has the opportunity to be part of the largest transformation we have ever seen in education globally.  This is in the true transition to Online Education- not just e-learning as we once knew it in the 90's but real qualifications, gained online.  We have the opportunity to do something about incorporating gamification into education as well as levels of mastery and supporting learning providers to do so through our intimate knowledge and involvement in the building and supporting of educational technologies over the past 10 years or more.  Some people call them MOOCS (Massively Open Online Courses) or some simply Online Education- educational content available to be consumed over the Internet - anywhere, anytime, globally.
Massey University has a great reference site here if you want to learn more about MOOCS, however the movers and shakers are constantly changing so keep an eye out as this shift will happen so quickly, just like the .Com bubble, it will progress and change shape quicker than traditional teaching methods ever have..

Not only this, NZ  will finally be shifting to a true Export Education sector- not just this every institute competing with international agents for getting the next International Student to jump on a plane to NZ and study because the revenues are good and us paying commission to people offshore for the privilege.  Real Export Education.  In 2010 there were 60,000 enrolled International Students in NZ bringing in a total of $709 million in revenues- on average around $12,000 per student.  This is a drop in the water compared to the 1.3 trillion students out there.  The potential is huge.  The USA know this and so do Europe.  We need to understand our point of difference with our online qualifications and shoot for the gap before we lose out all together. 

The latest Export Education from the NZ Government is here- Moocs I am sure will completely change this way of reporting will have to!

The other challenge as I see it will be the creation of 'learning hubs', which will quickly become a new trend around the globe.  This is open spaces, not just in Universities and Polytechnics, but anywhere which supports a learning environment.  Some people find it hard to learn at home- others love it.  The concept of learning spaces will quickly dominate.  We have seen this on a small scale already- I was working for the University of Auckland when they opened the Information Commons a number of years ago- I remember discussing with other staff- "where were all of these students before they started coming here?".  I witnessed the same thing at Wintec with their fantastic Hub opened a few years ago where students constantly flock to, using the campus supplied technology.

Today, I had the pleasure of being shown around AUT's new Sir Paul Reeves building in Auckland by from AUT.  I was delighted to see the number of learning spaces they had created- and she was delighted in showing me and so proud of what AUT had achieved.  The learning spaces were everywhere and the combinations and different spaces and areas which allowed different ways and approaches for the learners to connect and learn- from booths with flat panel TV's the students could connect to, to large 'bed' style loungers where students could lock themselves away from the world.  This learning space was catering for BYOD in a sense of the term.  There were plugs EVERYWHERE for power for the devices and charging stations, even flat panel TV's the students could plug into for group presentations in booth style areas.  The bean-bag area proved popular- even spaces which may previously not have been used by staircases have been well utilised so students can have a choice of area, outlook, seating and study options.  There are more great pics of the new building here:  Big ups for AUT- they have done a great job of these new learning spaces and the new building, a bit different from the days I studied there, besides the library I can't think where else I ever went to study!

Encompassing the idea that students don't just learn in the classroom is a critical concept to grasp.  Student learn anywhere and, together and alone.  Across the 12 floors at AUT I visited, nearly every space available was taken with clusters of students, simply lounging across the study areas- with their devices, gaining their education.  Of course traditional learning still continued in the classrooms I saw, but I can quite honestly say I would have seen as many students in the classrooms as in the learning spaces....a shift in the way students are consuming learning materials?  Students should not have to study in the library as tradition dictates- they can, do and will study and learn anywhere they please.  In the UK,  in 2009, 15% of Open University students took their Online Learning on a Mobile in a Bus!  What is that saying about the future of education!

I recently spoke about this topic in our Business of Education Roadshow Event which ran nationwide in March 2013 and realised immediately that the NZ education sector are slowly starting to come on-board with collaborative online education across the sector and realise its for the best of NZ Inc....on the global stage.  We have to stop thinking locally and start thinking globally.  Our talented educators deserve this, the NZ economy deserves it and our world is demanding it.

I would truly love for us to stand united and put our 'Made in NZ' brand out there on the global education landscape. Not only this, when I watch Q & A on TV Sunday, I don't just want to hear our main NZ exports are Milk, Meat and apparently as our stats below depict, edible offal!  Surely we can get NZ Export Education to feature higher than edible Offal!  See the statistics below from Statistics NZ on our top exports.  We have the opportunity to do this, and the time is now.  With 20% of the worlds population as students- an incredible 1.3 trillion people, this is our market to play in- lets do something with it!

Main export commodities  2011 2006
Milk powder, butter, and cheese11,334 5,762
Meat and edible offal   5,398 4,500
Logs, wood, and wood articles  3,200 1,960
Crude oil 1,997   513
Mechanical machinery and equipment 1,733 1,791
Fruit 1,487 1,161
Fish, crustaceans, and molluscs 1,382 1,146
Aluminium and aluminium articles 1,260 1,261
Total – all commodities46,07232,430

Finally we are about to encounter the "great disruption in higher education".
Its not about .COM.....its about .EDU.

The coming 12-24 months will see a major shift in higher education in both technology disruption and competitive shakeouts, and I want to be part of it.  Yes, I want to be part of history making in NZ.  Taking an industry that I am truly passionate about, in which  I live and breath daily. Having the opportunity to springboard this onto the world stage is an honour, I welcome the opportunity to work with like minded educational institutes who want to be part of this "disruptive shakeout in higher education"

We will be putting export education truly on the map on a massive scale.  Not just about focusing on bringing International Students into NZ- but taking our quality education to the world, however to do this, there are a check list of things that need to be thought through and the impact assessed, including and not limited to the following:-

  • Free Trade Deals and Export Education- there is opportunity to leverage what is currently in place on a Massive Scale
  • We need to work with the NZ government on the current EFT Funding models and how this applies to online EFTs, there will need to be changes in this area as the whole idea of capping at this level really goes out the window.
  • Assessment models- this could be our biggest concern, how this is achieved needs to be carefully thought through and evaluated as I am sure if we put a Mooc out there and 40,000 students submitted work, compared to 140 face to face that our talented academics may be running for the hills unless a new assessment process is put in place for these programmes
  • Viability of Free Moocs, those of which needs to be partially charged for and those which need to be fully charged.  Revenue targets and P & L needs to be considered, these need to be looked at in the commercial sense.
  • Multi-lingual support for students and timezones- play in the global world, experience global issues- now a true 24x7 environment
  • Pastoral care- those students transitioning from an online environment to an on premise experience will expect the same standard of responsiveness you give them online as face to face.
  • Governing Laws for each Country- this applies to everything from where your data is sitting (course content) as well as sanctions in countries- you will need to well understand how these impact export education and the students you will be educating.
  • Institutional change management- perhaps the biggest change.  What do we do where our service delivery engine may be so opposed to the idea- there needs to be a comprehensive risk management and change management plan in place.  not all people will be on the bus, but you are going to need some they are the delivery engine and often creators of your products..this article clearly states some big opposition already (thanks @belindanash for sending this link through).

Other items of consideration would be:-
  • Verification of identity process would need to be robust and auditable and processes in place for spot checks of authenticity of student identity
  • Global agreements and relationships abroad that agree to support recognition of our qualifications and quality.
  • Processes and systems which support mobility of both students and academics across countries and geographic boundaries and the laws which govern these (ie start qualifications in NZ online and complete in the USA)
  • Embargo's and sanctions between countries and how this impacts release and issue of educational qualifications through online learning.  Such as those sanctions with Iran:  As a note to this point,  presently, NZ has sanctions with the following countries and groups (as per 9 April 2013.  The first thought that did concern me with the Al Qaida and Taliban sanction- that no group should be participating in training of military activities.  The "training" part stood out to me, given with Online Learning and Moocs, it does become more of a challenge to verify identity- so how would you even know if you were training Al Qaida or not?....something to ponder on...
  • Al Qaida and the Taliban
  • Cote d'Ivoire
  • The Democratic People's Republic of Korea
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Eritrea
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Lebanon
  • Liberia
  • Libya
  • Sierra Leone
  • Somalia
  • Sudan

    • Assessment tools online to support a changing method of learning and large volumes of submitted content
    • Ability to teach for learning styles (Kinesetic, Visual and Auditory) but what about submission of work/ answers to support these learning styles and how will this impact assessment (ie some submit a music video, others a painting, others and Essay or some a power-point- no wrong answer method.
    • Stair-casing between different Online providers- will this even be possible ie Edx vs Coursera or new platforms?
    • Marketing and educational programmes and initiatives would be required to increase visibility overseas of our educational products, qualifications and quality systems in place.
    • How our qualification map to off-shore careers and roles- this will play an important part to the 'value' of our qualifications- commercial deals should be lined up with employers willing to take qualified online learners once completed to solidify this value.
    • Shifting our Academics to a face-to-face delivery model to a non-face to face model including the inclusion of pre-recorded content, also checked for quality...and how this impacts academic freedom as it currently stands.
    I refer to this extract from the 2006 report, the facts have not really changed...

    "Over the last few decades, international education experience has become increasingly commonplace. Nearly two million tertiary students worldwide are involved in formal education outside their own country. This figure is likely to reach 5 million over the next 20 years. Increasingly students are also involved in forms of international education delivered by foreign providers in their own country, such as offshore campuses and distance education.
    An ever-increasing number of institutions and countries are participating in a global education market characterised by:
    • steadily increasing mobility of students and staff
    • intensifying competition between institutions and countries
    • greater focus on the strategic benefits of engagement in international education
    • more complex and interdependent institutional arrangements
    • more diverse forms of delivery
    • internationalisation of the curriculum
    • reform of programme structures, credit systems and recognition agreements to support mobility
    • greater attention to institutional and professional development and support issues
    • increasing diversity of students participating in international education
    • greater - although still limited - awareness of equity issues in international education."

    We are in a technological and mobile world and times have changed and we need to change to meet these times.  I am looking forward to the 'great disruption in NZ education' and look forward to the near future and what it holds for us.  Exciting times...bring it on!

    1 comment:

    1. Great write-up Lyndal. Hope the leaders in education field will respond to your eye-opening article.