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Talk: Martin Bean at the HE Leadership Summit, 11/2/10

 Informal learning: friend or foe?Martin Bean, Vice-Chancellor, The Open University Space...

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Gráinne Conole
5 February 2010

Welcome from Ewart Wooldridge and Introduction to Cloudworks from Denise Kirkpatrick followed by:

Informal learning: friend or foe?
Martin Bean, Vice-Chancellor, The Open University

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Martin Bean - Vice Chancellor of the Open University title for his talk "A Changing Landscape" to reflect on what had happend in the very short time since moving from Microsoft to the OU.

Three (Meta-)Trends he picked out that reflect the changing nature of HE:

  • Globalisation - learners going across national boundaries.
  • Massification - need to act at larger and larger scale to meet demands
  • Privatisation - experience of blending in USA are heading towards the UK

There is a crisis of the relevance of HE: "How important is HE" ~70% "How relevant is the education that you are getting?" - ~22%. Need to understand the needs and wants of students: like connections, technology, autonomy ... hate complexity, things that get in the way and cost...
Answer lies in blending digital lifestyles and digital work styles. Technology itself is not the answer - need to consider:

  • People,
  • Process,
  • & Technology

On the theme of "informal meets formal" - to remove the artificial barriers: taking a multi-channels approach at the OU. Still use BBC - reaching 120million people in a year. Now connecting up with web journeys and iTunesU > 1.47 million visitors of whom 1 in 12 go on to visit the OU. OpenLearn has also had >6m visitors using the released content of the OU. Martin predicts that OER will "change the landscape" of content. The Why of OpenLearn can also be seen in benefits for the OU: recruitment, reach and projects.

Considering he way to become more "learner-centric" means looking at the informal approaches that now happen. To move away from the big steps of course accreditation, to smooth steps based on open access - and accreditation through reputation as well as institution. iSpot is an example of reputation in action - activity leads to credit and experience. Such approaches may give smaller "on-ramps" to education.

Martin's end point is how to move people from difficulty in access, through open and social learning, to recognition, leading to personal fulfilment and "citizenship".
Martin descrbes the OU as a change agent - and a bit of a rebel in trying things out.

Patrick McAndrew
10:50 on 11 February 2010

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Patrick McAndrew
10:11am 11 February 2010

The conference (sponsored by The Leadership Foundation, JISC and The Open University) is opened by Ewart Wooldridge - with an apology for a short delay as Martin Bean held up by traffic.
Expected 150 people got 260: Important people in HE gathered in one place for the 6th leadership summit. From defiing change, international, governance, ... with common theme of change. The scale of the challenge has moved on this year: a paradigm change affecting all.
The theme is agility: innovation, creativitiy, technology and research.
The conference itself has a mix of activities - breakout sessions, dragons den, and exhibition.


Patrick McAndrew
10:18am 11 February 2010

Denise Kirkpatrick introduced Cloudworks - describing the background of Cloudworks and giving some clear instructions on how to take advantage of using Cloudworks. An invitation to post as well to read.

Patrick McAndrew
10:53am 11 February 2010

Q:Is the answer too much about technology. What about the OU's own older students.

A: Average age now down to 32. 1. Reality is that technology matters - no favour to avoid engaging. 2. OU does give a graded introduction in practice from openings. Also carefully address the special needs. Still produce varied resources - including books. There will be a tipping point though and may need to change.

Patrick McAndrew
10:56am 11 February 2010

Q: (Tim O'Shea). OER can only take you far. To get to the end point of a Physics degree requires a contolled and difficult path.

A: There are issues of pathways and the stranding of people along the way. Ways to tackle this - metors, guidance, suggestions. Connect OpenLearn more clearly to the OU - work out the best way to "land" from OER experience. The sector also needs to get more comfortable with fluid approach to credit.

Patrick McAndrew
11:00am 11 February 2010

Q: (John Turner - Portsmouth University). How might all of this be paid for?

A: Platforms are cost effective - they do not require as much investment. E.g. iTunesU, Google/microsoft systems. Know the top 10 reasons why it won' work. It does cost though: so need to look for ways to co-invest in shared infrastructure. Look for the cost-effective ways to get started.

Patrick McAndrew
11:03am 11 February 2010

Q: (Mary Watkins, Plymouth) What about staff development.

A: Need to "not do technology to the staff" but with them. Need to have the purpose built content and pathways to bring technlogy in - use when need.

Patrick McAndrew
11:05am 11 February 2010

Q: How to fit the flexible approach across institutions with what the QAA needs us to do to benchmark?

A: It is hard but needs to evolve and we need to tackle this. If we wait then will lose out for our students.

Patrick McAndrew
11:09am 11 February 2010

Q: Elaine Thomas (University of Creative Arts). Too reliant on public funding in UK - need a model where funding follows success?

A: Need to blend funding and also target the funding that is available to those that provide a quality service. US model will flow money to prvate providers but only if they perform well. UK direction is towards having a shortfall in places that might well lead to a similar blending of private and public.

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