• 30Jan
    Author: Katherine Pisana Categories: Educational Technology Comments Off on Further evidence of ed tech prosperity in the midst of economic gloom

    Post - Jan 29, 09

    I intentionally set aside some time to read eLearn Magazine‘s Predictions for 2009.  I feel the need to say ‘intentionally’ because I’m finding that if I don’t specifically allocate time to accomplish defined goals, I generally end up tossing away an unfinished To Do List and that just leaves the bitter taste of guilt in my mouth.

    Anyway, continuing on from what I was saying in yesterday’s post, the predictors also anticipate that the lower costs and more convenient access to e-learning will result in its increased demand in the upcoming year.

    Allison Rossett expects to see more technology however with a disproportionate level of understanding of how to use it. Translation: more opportunities for confusion! Not surprising though, as the rate at which new developments in the applications of technology mushroom on an hourly basis, while the training and development initiatives within educational institutions do wonders at keeping skill levels of teachers stagnant in the areas of educational technology. Perhaps this could be an opportunity for improvement – dare I say, a point on the agenda – for schools intent on gaining some footing in these fast paced digital times…

    Mr. Downes predicts the proliferation of synchronous online classes…and considering the number of upcoming online seminars I’m scheduled to have with my tutor groups this year (something I haven’t seen this much of since I started my MA ODE with the OU in 2006), I think he might already be right!

    Roger Schank asks the question, “Does a college degree guarantee any practical (material) success in life?”. He predicts that many institutions will have to evaluate what kind of graduate they’re producing and whether these new entrants into the workforce are capable of contributing in any meaningful way. On this note, I just heard a story from a friend yesterday that many of his former classmates at Cornell are deciding to prolong their graduate studies for one more year in an attempt not to have to face the reality of the current job market. If schools put more emphasis on the development of enterprise and entrepreneurialship in their core curricula, would we have as many ripe students still hanging onto the tree branches?

    I won’t comment on each prediction but have a look through the list for yourself. Ugur Demiray shines a great monetary ray of optimism on the global e-learning industry, Jay Cross touches upon the recent phenomena of closing down corporate training and development departments and replacing them with coaching and mentoring schemes designed to foster ‘a more natural approach to learning’, and David Porush comments on what he sees as the ‘incoming tidal wave’ of returning students as a consequence of current job markets.


  • 29Jan
    Author: Katherine Pisana Categories: Education, Educational Technology Comments Off on Ecomonic downturn = more jobs in educational technology

    We’re all afraid of loosing a job – whether its our own, or of that of someone close to us. Unemployment is at an all time high. So imagine my wonderment when I received a job posting (see below) this morning for a Learning Technologist position at the London School of Economics.

    LSE job posting

    Take a look at the salary. Normally these jobs go for £23,000 to £35,000 GBP, depending in what part of the UK you are. (Input on what the going rate is in other countries is welcome 🙂 ) So it looks like LSE has a bigger budget then most. Not surprising considering their ranking, but let’s set that aside for a moment and start asking ourselves what started happening to the field of educational technology once the global economic reset button was pressed.

    What sort of things do people do when they loose their jobs in the masses? Some discover new industries, new trades, new identities. Others contribute to the campaign of mass re-production (anyone remember how the Baby Boomers came about?!), and then there are those who either fall into deep depressions or succumb to the last resort of going back to live with their parent(s). How do you think the first group – those reinventing themselves – manage to develop those new skills they need to perform their new roles?

    What’s that? Did you say ‘education‘? Well that’s right! That’s the correct answer! Well done. Here’s a sticker!

    So, people with no jobs have little disposable income to invest in their futures. This brings us to the point about affordability of higher and continuing education. Do you think that this group is more likely to opt for the $30,000+ USD/yr Stanford full-time education (that requires the physical presence of the student) or the more accessible £5,000 GBP Open University degree (that can be completed at a distance and at the student’s own [affordable] pace)?

    Looks like there might be potential for a big boom in online and distance education. Is your institution ready for the new opportunities? The OU seems to be…

    Downturn not bad news for all universities

    The British Council fears the economic downturn may deter international students from coming to the UK to study, in a statement released today, but it’s not bad news for all. The Open University Business School is defying the trend through offering relevant and responsive business and management education to around 43,000 students in nearly 70 countries.

    Carmel McMahon, Associate Dean International at The Open University Business School said: “Our international reach and unique student support model ensures we can provide a high quality British education to our students in their countries, rather than requiring students to travel to the UK. The economic downturn is being experienced globally but our practice based approach to business and management education enables students to improve their career prospects without having to give up their jobs and to continue their studies if relocated.”

    The Open University Business School has seen an increase in the number of new MBA students in Continental Europe, while numbers in Russia and Romania are holding their ground. It has also very successfully just launched the BA in Business Studies programme in southern Africa.

    Richard Wheatcroft, Masters Programme Director at The Open University Business School, confirmed the upward trend saying: “In our experience people who lose their jobs often decide that it’s a good time to do an MBA while the labour market is unattractive. Studying through us allows them flexibility between study and pursuing new employment, ensuring they do not miss any opportunities. And those in employment also have an incentive to take up further studies, as they want to make themselves more valuable to their employer.”


  • 19Jan
    Author: Katherine Pisana Categories: Education, Educational Technology Comments: 1

    “A teacher that can be replaced by a machine should be.”

    ~ Sir Arthur C. Clarke

    20090119-postThe accessibility of education must be a primary focus of all educators, for education is worthless if it is not shared and applied in a way that allows all of us to work together to make life not only livable, but enjoyable, enriching and prosperous.

    During his talk at the Lift Conference in Geneva, Sugata Mitra discusses the implications of the remoteness of education as it relates to primary education. He puts forth the following questions:

    Is it true that the more remote the school, the lower the quality of education?
    Where is educational technology better suited at this stage of its integration – remote areas or urban centers?
    Can technology alter the acquisition of values?
    Can education be self-organizing?

    Mitra found that the motivation of teachers was directly correlated to the quality of educational delivery. This brings us back again to the foundation of Teacher as Inspire-or. If you do not derive joy from your work, if you do not believe in what you are asked to teach, if you do not see the possibility inherent in the passing on of information and the support of the cultivation of knowledge, how can you teach anything?

    If you are told by your Department Head that you must start using technology in the classroom because your faculty is falling behind in the polls, in the rankings, in the ratings (or in whatever popularity contest you participate for the sake of funding and politics) but you do not believe in the connecting power of technology, how can you inspire its use?

    Is educational technology really ‘over-hyped’ and ‘under-performing’? Can we really come to that conclusion if we haven’t really given it a chance? How many teachers who have been asked to begin working with educational technology (and educational technologists) have really given it (and them) a chance? How many have considered the student ‘s perspective when coming to their premature conclusions? How many have acted out of fear?

    There is something to be said for walking through life with a child-like innocence. It allows one to look through the eyes of an open, curious and light-hearted perceiver. It allows one to make choices from a place of flexibility, acceptance and promise. How many teachers do you know who teach from a place of fear and ego? How many do you know who inspire?

    “We need a faster processor and a better mouse.”

    The Hole in the Wall Project – a phenomenal example of the spirit of humanity. How could you not want to help inspire?