• 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.”

  • 26Jan
    Author: Katherine Pisana Categories: Education, Technology Comments: 2

    For those of you who’ve read through some posts on this blog, you’ll have noticed that I am quite the advocate of a technology that affords the less tech 20090126 postsavvy content developer with the opportunity to easily create flash content. I’ve published some of my materials here already, and I even started a “Learning Object Series” which was going to provide readers with a breakdown of all aspects of what a learning object can be. Not to mention all the other ideas I had in store…

    Pick up on that fleck of the past tense in that last sentence? Well, it seems that I’ll no longer be able to use that amazing technology. ‘Why?’, you may ask. Well, because recently I received an email from the Sprout Team advising me of their new pricing scheme. A technology that was previously free and accessible to all is now going to cost US$599.50/yr! Here’s the pricing scheme for those who would like a kick in the gut along with their morning coffee!

    I’m not going to dwell on the dozens and dozens of hours I’ve spent creating content using SproutBuilder. I’m not going to spend any more time feeling sorry for myself that I’ll loose all my work (because there’s no way of saving or backing up your sprout on your own machine). I won’t think a minute more about all the students who will be affected by this ‘new development’ since a number of my Sprouts are currently being used within virtual learning environments as tools for university students. I’ll even shelve all the other ideas I had for new uses of Sprouts – ideas that until a couple days ago were still cheerily sprouting in my mind. I’ll eventually move on to a new technology and probably even gain a few new skills along the way…but that’s really not the point…

    What I am quite disturbed about is the relationship between accessibility and money, and even more so, about the potential for the provider of the technology to abuse its power in order to dis-empower the user. In this case, the user was just one person – me – but what are the implications when the user is a university or a college with minimal funds available in its IT budget? The accessibility of technology is vital in today’s world. Taking a look at their pricing levels, it looks like the Sprout Team is targeting their product to high-end design firms with lots and lots of mulla to dish out, and most probably who are already Sprouters themselves and who will have to think a lot longer and harder than me about the implications of the investment they’ve already made in this fabulous new technology. Is this another sign that open source is the way of the future? At least for the disappearing middle class, it seems.

    Dear Sprout Team, let’s not get ahead of ourselves! Even sliced bread is affordable to the little guy!

    On a side note, anyone notice the strategically planted comment that the Sprout Marketing Manager planted on my blog, coincidentally only a couple days before the news broke about their new fees? …funny…

    armydavidsTo leave off on a more inspiring note, here’s a book forum discussion presented by the Cato Institute spotlighting a book written by Glenn Reynolds entitled, ‘An Army of Davids: How Markets and Technology Empower Ordinary People to Beat Big Media, Big Government, and Other Goliaths“. The latter part of this panel discussion gets quite politically heavy, but in addition to a brief glimpse into the history of beer (!), the panel discusses the implications of ideas presented in the book such as, “Technological developments are putting more and more power into the hands of more and more people.”

    My question is, what happens if technology providers become the Goliath’s? Where’s the empowerment supposed to come from then?