Innovation in Higher Education: building a better future?

Thursday 22 May 2014 10:00 - 16:00

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 500 5th Avenue North, Seattle, Washington, United States (see map and directions) Please note that this venue is not where the main ICA Conference is being held.

Registration for this preconference is: $50 (in addition to the ICA Conference registration fee). To register, please use the normal ICA Conference Registration process. Those attending ICA may register for this preconference, whether or not they are presenting a paper. Registration for the conference opened 15 January 2014.

Abstract

Higher education is described as being in a time of crisis. In the US, tuition costs have been escalating beyond the cost of inflation for some years, students are building up significant debt, whilst completion rates are in decline. The higher education system is creaking under the strain of additional scrutiny from government, funders, parents and students, yet is struggling to re-invent itself to reduce costs whilst improving quality and increasing flexibility for learners. In a Europe facing the financial downturn, universities struggle to retain their public service ethos when budgets are under huge pressure. Elsewhere in the world, many countries plan dramatic expansion to their higher education systems to fuel their growing economies, but they are being held up by lack of infrastructure and the increased intellectual capital that is needed.

Higher education is becoming a global, Internet-based business. But few universities are equipped to fully embrace the potential that this offers. Few faculty were even aware of these seismic shifts until the recent publicity around Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) which provide access to free online courses by a wide range of universities and opened to students with any academic background. They are attracting millions of students from across the globe. To what extent though is the MOOC really revolutionary and disruptive, or is it being used cynically by the most elite institutions to further increase their brand power and assert their superiority, whilst the middle tier of institutions lose student numbers and academic credibility? Do MOOCs hold the potential to support the developing world in its academic ambitions, or are they just another example of neo-colonialism? And what about online learning more broadly – are we giving enough attention to the quiet revolution of blended learning that has been taken place over many years, and what that means for higher education?

Whether MOOCs succeed or fail, or quickly evolve to become something else, they offer a clarion-call for the higher education system to consider its future models and to test out new approaches to the way that it does its business – how it creates courses and course materials, how it teaches, how it supports students, how it accredits degrees, how it markets itself, how it covers its costs or makes a profit.

There is another, potentially more sinister perspective to the seemingly open philosophy of MOOCs. Behind the online learning systems, sophisticated data collection and analysis tools are being created that will gather and analyse information about each student as they move through the system, as they learn and interact with each other. This is valuable data and, for the first time, universities will have access to live information about the study habits of many millions of students, linked to their personal profile. The potential to use this data for the good, to develop increasingly adaptable and personalised learning systems, is huge; but therein also lies the potential for mis-use and, in the words of the for profit providers of education, for 'brand differentiation'. What are the implications of this innovation, for good and for bad – and are we giving enough due care and attention to how we allow this data this data to be used?

This 2014 ICA Preconference proposes to explore the issues raised by these developments, focusing on several interrelated questions:

  1. Is higher education really in crisis or is it really a success story of a system that has adapted over time, and will survive the current challenges without major change?

  2. What are the major innovation challenges for the higher education system and how can they best be addressed?

  3. What do MOOCs mean for the future of higher education? Are they just a marketing device for elite institutions, or can they really be a force for the 'democratisation of education'? Or is there an option of a more incremental change in the materials and texts supporting campus-based students?

  4. How is technology-enabled online learning more generally changing the nature of teaching and learning, the role of faculty and the teacher-student relationship?

  5. What is the potential for the use of learner analytics and big data approaches to large-scale online education, and are there threats hidden in this advances?

We propose to invite abstracts of papers for presentation, and a selected number of keynote speakers to address these questions across a range of topical areas, including:

  • the current state of higher education, the challenges that it faces and whether it is really a system in crisis, focusing upon the different challenges facing systems across the globe;

  • innovation models that could help to transform higher education systems;

  • the potential of blended learning and MOOCs to catalyse the transformation of higher education;

  • the value and importance of learner data and the implications of both big data approaches and analytics for the development of personalised learning experiences;

  • issues related to the tracking of students and the collection of personal data, focusing on intellectual property rights;

  • sustainability of higher education, focused in particular on business models for MOOCs.

These are only indicative of the range of topics to be explored as the programme illustrates, the discussions promise to add new dimensions and challenge fundamental assumptions about the current state of higher education and its need to change.

Organising Committee

  • Professor William H. Dutton, Oxford Internet Institute

  • Ms Sarah Porter, Oxford Internet Institute

  • Ian Dolphin, Executive Director, Apereo Foundation

  • Dr Kendall Guthrie, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

  • Kevin Guthrie, President, Ithaka

  • Professor Jeff Haywood, University of Edinburgh

  • Brian Loader, Editor, iCS, and Director, School of Social and Political Sciences, The University of York

  • Professor Grainne Conole, University of Leicester

  • Professor Jeffrey Pomerantz, School of Information and Library Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • George Siemens, Professor at the Center for Distance Education, and a researcher with the Technology Enhanced Knowledge Research Institute (TEKRI), Athabasca University, Alberta, Canada

Partners

Programme

TimeSchedule
09:30 - 10:30

Coffee and Informal Discussion

10:00 - 10:15

Welcome, Introduction, Framing the Day - Bill Dutton, Brian Loader and Sarah Porter

The role of new technologies in higher education is among the most fragmented and contentious areas of communication research. Work in this area reflects both professional and scholarly activity, alongside strong commercial and political interests. The overlaps and tensions between these varied activities necessarily reflect the different priorities and goals of a wide range of actors and stakeholders. However, it is rare for these different groups to fully engage with each other. In this one-day session we hope to bring together academics and practitioners from all sides to critically consider innovations in higher education in ways that advance theory and practice.

This brief introduction will aim to put the individual research projects and critical perspectives in a larger context by providing a brief overview of trends transforming higher education, and raising questions central to the field of communication: What has been the role of communication and information technologies? Is there a unique role that communication researchers should play in bringing their expertise to bear in understanding stability and change in higher education? Can communication researchers bring new data or analytical perspectives to bear in informing and stimulating debate in ways that will influence the direction of change?

10:15 - 11:30

Keynote and Responses

Chair: Anabel Quan-Haase, University of Western Ontario (TBC)

  • Kevin M. Guthrie, President of ITHACA, on “The Future of MOOCs”

Respondent: Yoram Kalman, Researcher, Open University of Israel

11:30 - 12:45

Panel on Innovations in Online Learning and Its Role in Higher Education: MOOCs, SNOCs, OOCs and Online Degrees

The initial panel will provide an opportunity for panellists to identify key innovations in higher education: What ideas are diffusing? What works? What does not? What do these suggest about the future of higher education - transformation or continuity?

Moderator: Rebecca Eynon

  • Nesterko, Ho, and Blitzstein: ‘Interactive, Live Learner Analytics: Informing Personalized Learning and Institutional Strategy In MOOCs’
  • McGarity: ‘Noncredit MOOCs and Skills Training: An Examination of Coursera’s Public Speaking MOOC’
  • Sparke: ‘Developing an Online Degree Program and a Comparison with MOOCs’
  • Veletsianos: ‘The Design of Empowering and Inspirational Open Online Learning Experiences’
12:45 - 13:15

Lunch Break - pick up box lunches

13:15 - 14:15

Quick Fire Sessions

In the quick fire sessions each presenter will host at a round table. They will be prepared with a one-page poster with easy visuals or 5 slides printed as hand outs and present for 10 minutes. Listeners can write down follow up questions on a piece of white paper on each table for the groups that follow to react to. Participants rotate and can attend 3 of the 5 sessions.

Introduced by Bill Dutton

  • Heeter: ‘The Virtual Professor – the Real Classroom: An Online Demonstration’
  • Markman and Stallings: Synchronous Communication and Immediacy in the Online Classroom: A Call for Research and Practice
  • Yaros: The MEEC College Lecture or a “Manageable Environment for Collaboration”—The Tablets
  • Yao: ‘The New MOOCs: A Combination of IM and Radio Mode -The Learning Evolution for Chinese Foreign Language Learners?’
  • Horn, Radford, Thornton, Whitfield: ‘Finding and Developing Talent: Results from a Study Investigating the Role of Employers in the Future of MOOCs’
14:15 - 15:15

Panel on Improving the Online Learning Experience

What lessons have been learned from the many initiatives that can advance approaches to online learning? What works informally, such as in how individuals use the Internet outside the classroom, but also how can the Internet and related technologies enhance educational institutions, particularly universities and further education?

Moderator: Professor Jeffrey Pomerantz (TBC)

  • Bulger and Cobo: ‘Pairing Evaluation with Innovation to Improve Learning Gains in Higher Education’
  • Johri: ‘Lessons for Large-scale Learning and Teaching for Higher Education Institutions from Online Forums’
  • Katchuck: ‘Evaluating Peer Assessment for Post-secondary Online Writing Courses’
  • Kellogg: ‘Patterns of Participant Interaction and Mechanisms Governing Social Network Structure in Two Massively Open Online Courses for Educators’
  • Eynon: ‘Vote me up if you like my ideas!’ Experiences of Learning in a MOOC’

Respondent: George Veletsianos

15:15 - 15:30

Coffee, Tea Break

15:30 - 16:30

Panel on ‘Digital Academe: New Business Models, Analytics and Roles’

Many innovations in higher education are claimed to lack a viable business model, but new business models are being proposed. New forms of online learning are also generating new sources of data that could have value in shaping curricula and learning strategies. These initiatives might change the role of teachers, and classrooms, and create the need for more team based development of courses and more. Are these fundamental changes in the institutions of higher education, and if so, will this be for the better?

Moderator:Aditya Johri

  • Kalman: ‘Free as in Beer, or Free as in MOOCs? Using Business Model Analysis to Cut through the Hype on Innovation in Higher Education
  • Loader: ‘De-professionalizing the Networked Academic?’
  • Sparke: ‘The Case for an Online Degree Program’
  • Baker: ‘21st Century Universities as Innovation Nodes: Communities of Learning, Research, and Collaboration’
16:30 - 17:00

Closing Panel on Innovation in Higher Education: Developing a Research Agenda, Applying the Research on Your Campus

Moderators: Bill Dutton and Biran Loader

Panellists: Kevin Guthrie, Matt McGarity, and Kendall Guthrie

17:00

Close

Papers

  • Baker, P.M.A. ‘21st Century Universities as Innovation Nodes: Communities of Learning, Research, and Collaboration’
  • Bulger, M. and Cobo, C. ‘Pairing Evaluation with Innovation to Improve Learning Gains in Higher Education’
  • Eynon, E. ‘Vote me up if you like my ideas!’ experiences of learning in a MOOC’
  • Horn, L., Radford, A.W, Thornton, J. and Whitfield, K. ‘Finding and Developing Talent: Results from a Study Investigating the Role of Employers in the Future of MOOCs’
  • Johri, A. ‘Lessons for Large-scale Learning and Teaching for Higher Education Institutions from Online Forums’
  • Kalman, Y. ‘Free as in Beer, or Free as in MOOCs? Using Business Model Analysis to Cut through the Hype on Innovation in Higher Education’
  • Katchuck, M. ‘Evaluating Peer Assessment for Post-secondary Online Writing Courses’
  • Kellogg, S.B. ‘Patterns of Participant Interaction and Mechanisms Governing Social Network Structure in Two Massively Open Online Courses for Educators’
  • Loader, B. ‘De-professionalizing the Networked Academic?’
  • Markman, K.M. and Stallngs, L. ‘Synchronous Communication and Immediacy in the Online Classroom: A Call for Research and Practice’
  • McGarity, M. ‘Noncredit MOOCs and Skills Training: An Examination of Coursera’s Public Speaking MOOC’
  • Nesterko, S.O., Ho, A.D. and Blitzstein, J.K. ‘Interactive, Live Learner Analytics: Informing Personalized Learning and Institutional Strategy in MOOCs’
  • Sparke, M. ‘Developing an Online Degree Program and a Comparison with MOOCs’
  • Veletsianos, G. ‘The Design of Empowering and Inspirational Open Online Learning Experiences’
  • Yao, H. ‘The New MOOCs: A Combination of IM and Radio Mode - The Learning Evolution for Chinese Foreign Language Learners?’
  • Yaros, R. ‘The MEEC College Lecture or a “Manageable Environment for Collaboration”’

About the speakers

Professor William H. Dutton (Chair)

Professor of Internet Studies, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Ms Sarah Porter (Chair)

Visiting Fellow, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Sarah Porter is a Visiting Fellow at the OII, and former director of JISC’s programmes on e-Learning, open educational resources, digital literacy, curriculum design, and e-portfolios.

Paul M. A. Baker

Senior Research Scientist, and Associate Director of the Center for 21st Century Universities (C21U), Georgia Institute of Technology

Professor Joseph K. Blitzstein

Dept of Statistics, Harvard University

Joseph K. Blitzstein is a Professor of the Practice in Statistics, and Co-director of Undergraduate Studies, Dept of Statistics, Harvard University.

Dr Monica Bulger

Research Associate, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Monica Bulger is an educational researcher contributing policy research to multi-national groups such as UNICEF and the European Commission.

Dr Cristobal Cobo

Research Fellow, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Professor Grainne Conole

University of Leicester

Dr Rebecca Eynon

Lecturer and Research Fellow at the Department of Education and the OII, University of Oxford

Rebecca Eynon is a Lecturer and Research Fellow at the Department of Education and the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Dr Kendall Guthrie

Lead Senior Program Officer, Measurement, Learning and Evaluation, Postsecondary Education, US Programs, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Kevin Guthrie

President of ITHAKA

Professor Jeff Haywood

University of Edinburgh

Carrie Heeter

Michigan State University

Carrie Heeter is a Professor of Telecommunication, Information Studies, and Media, Michigan State University and Director of MSU’s online graduate certificate in serious games.

Andrew D. Ho

Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA

Laura Horn

Director, Center for Postsecondary Education Research, RTI International

Laura Horn is an expert in postsecondary education policy issues at RTI International.

Aditya Johri

Associate Professor, Department of Applied Information Technology, and Director of Digital Learning Lab, George Mason University

Yoram Kalman

Senior Lecturer, Department of Management and Economics; Director, International Academic Initiatives. The Open University of Israel

Michelle Katchuck

School of Communications, University of Hawaii at Manoa

Shaun B. Kellogg

Research Associate , College of Education, Friday Institute of Innovation for Education, North Carolina State University

Brian Loader

Director of School of Social and Political Sciences, University of York, and Editor of iCS

Kris M. Markman

Independent Scholar

Matt McGarity

Department of Communication, University of Washington

Sergiy O. Nesterko

Harvard EdX Research Fellow

Professor Jeffrey Pomerantz

School of Information and Library Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Anabel Quan-Haase

Associate Professor, Information & Media Studies, University of Western Ontario, Canada

Alexandria Walton Radford

Program Director, Transition to College, RTI International

Professor Matthew Sparke

University of Washington

Matthew Sparke is a Professor of Geograhpy and International Studies, University of Washington, where he is developing a MOOC on globalization, and directing a new online BA.

Lori Stallings MA

Instructor and Director of 2381, Department of Communication, University of Memphis

Jessica Thornton

Manager of Institutional Assessment and Accreditation at Duke University, Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina

George Veletsianos

Canada Research Chair of Innovative Learning and Technology and Professor at Royal Roads University’s School of Education and Technology

Professor Keith Whitefield

Professor and Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Duke University

He Yao

Doctoral Candidate, Institute of Communication Studies, Communication University of China, Beijing

Ronald A. Yaros

Associate Professor, Philip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland, College Park