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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Three key uncertainties - Terry Anderson vs Ray Schroeder

As much as the trends and drivers impact the future of development in education, the uncertainties and unpredictables also have a significant role to play. Below is my reflection on the three uncertainties highlighted by Terry Anderson and Ray Schroeder.

The uncertainties outlined by Terry are very relevant and thought-provoking. I've been working part-time in a tertiary institution that is 100% distance based and have noticed the transition from the paper-based content and assessment system to a semi-virtual/ semi-online method of delivery and interaction. The impact that the Internet has had on the content base and assessment platform is tremendous. The reduced cost of content development and publishing has changed, and even now as I speak, is drastically changing. Moodle, WiziQ, Google hangout and open access resources has changed the student-content interaction to a great extent. The student-teacher interaction is also being transformed and like Terry mentioned - MOOCs, online quizzes and the rest could quite likely change the way the teacher/ professor will be perceived in the future.
very disruptive

Authenticating and credentialing of learning is another area of uncertainty and although the novel methods and tools will make assessing and certification quick and efficient, the credibility and validity of the assessments will be a huge hurdle to cross. E-portfolios and newer forms like Badges are alright to talk about, but it will be interesting to see how many employers and institutions of higher education  accept these credentials and qualifications when students look for employment and prospective professionalism.

Another uncertainty that Terry has rightly highlighted is the impact of social networking on teaching and learning. With the general teaching and learning it would be a big advantage, but in terms of assessing it gives room for a lot of debate.Already with the Internet and very efficient search engines, plagiarism and copyright issues are rife. With the extensive and freely available social interaction platforms, validity and credibility will also be in question.Assessment tasks and testing methodology will have to change to suit the situation. Collaborated works, combined artifacts and knowledge application will eventually take over the current trends in assessment, but how quickly and how well will the general public accept this is a what begs the question.
The uncertainties highlighted by Ray are quite different from those pointed out by Terry. It very specifically targets the economic downturn in the form of the Global Economic Crises and its impact on funding of education. His perspective is more from the management and operations point of view. It is obvious that education is considered one of the areas that will receive funding after much of a country's financial resources are drained for other things like health, national security, etc. Privatization and even commercialization of education is strife everywhere. Capped salaries, annulment of perks and bonuses, reduced expenditure on immovable assets and even sub-contracting and outsourcing of courses to agencies that are prepared to manage the administration for minimal costs is rampart. But while this projects a bleak future of traditional role of the teacher/ professor, it does not imply that standard of education will diminish. The offering of tenders and contracts on then basis of performance vs costs will ensure that the standards are maintained.

With the changing role of teachers and with the advancement of technology, easily-accessible content resources, cheap hosting platforms and efficient assessments tools will become very popular. Ray "faculty-free" universities and "OER for learning" echo Terry's first uncertainty regarding the impact of the  Internet.This would mean that education would be more easily available and would be cheaper. The concept of "the shrinking globe and expanding knowledge" will be the highlight of the decades to follow. Education will be accessible by anyone, anytime from anywhere - in fact anyone will be able to study anything of their choice, but will that mean only the ones who 'have' - a computer/ digital device, Internet connectivity and technology know-how. What about the "have-nots"? Also with Recognition of Prior learning (RPL) and recognition of Current Competency (RCC); work-based and project-based learning, will the actual dissemination of knowledge and training of skills become redundant? Well, these are questions that is in everyone's mind and I wonder if  there are any answers.

Ray's third certainty about the shrinking number of faculty members who create and update our new learning materials for education is not a real issue I reckon. Experts and specialists curriculum planners and course designers will be available a dime a dozen. But, the issue will be cost-based again. Will standards be compromised by the parsimony of educational institutions? Will computer technicians be in charge of material production? What type of courses will be in demand? and what about the resources?

With all these questions in mind and no answers, I continue to contemplate the future of education in 2050 or maybe even as early as 2025.

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