While professor Laurie Essig’s post calling for Massive Online Open Administrations or MOOAs instead of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) as the salvation for higher education must be recognized as a good work of satire, the post does reveal that we have a fundamental problem in Higher Education.
Whenever an industry is being radically disrupted the constituents within that industry will start to entrench their positions and defend the status quo that they know so well by taking pot shots at the people or groups who they believe are disrupting their world. This post reveals that many faculty are being threatened by MOOCs and technology in general and are opposed to being forced to change the way that they have been teaching. Similarly, many administrators are turning to the technology flavour of the day to improve the bottom line for the University and are often asking faculty to change simply for the sake of change. Yes, it is much more complicated and involved but the reality is that higher education cannot sustain it current practices and must change. The proverbial writing has been on the wall for a very long time. Change is happening.
Unfortunately, for Alberta instiutions the opportunity to be proactive and to control how to deal with the forces of change have passed. The Edmonton Journal article Mandate Letters Sent to Schools reveals:
On Friday night, Advanced Education and Enterprise Minister Thomas Lukaszuk sent out the first drafts of so-called mandate letters to top university officials outlining expectations under the new guise of Campus Alberta.
The notion of the “new guise of Campus Alberta” is not accurate. Various iterations of Advanced Education over the past decade have been warning higher education leaders and faculty that a voluntary move toward a collaborative Campus Alberta was necessary to sustain and improve education options for all Albertans. Unfortunately, time and dollars have run out and the once voluntary option has now turned into a mandate. Despite these strong words there still is an opportunity for Alberta Universities and Colleges to be proactive. Even though Advanced Education and Enterprise is requiring a move toward Campus Alberta the details on what the Campus Alberta will look like, how resources are shared, how institutions will collaborate is open for discussion.
Perhaps there is still time for the administration and faculty in higher education in Alberta to be proactive. Unfortunately, when you look at past performance as indicator of future potential is doubtful that there will be little more than a reactive response to the cutbacks. We only have to go back a few years to the late 90′s to see how well higher education reacted to forced change.
How can so many highly educated people continually miss the opportunity to proactively improve education. Pointing fingers isn’t going to help. When the faculty blame administrators (who were once faculty), when the administrators blame the faculty and when unions and everyone else blame the government we all loose sight of the fact that it will be our learners, our children, who will loose out.
How do we fix it? We focus on the learning. By building a learning culture that prepares our children how to learn how to learn we can prepare our children for an ever changing future. The solution is really that simple–unfortunately, changing or re-shaping our culture is the challenging part. We out it to our children to move beyond our personal needs and ambitions and take on this challenge.