Nov 012011

Digital Learning: Universities Must Adapt or Die in the eLearning World

Digital Learning: By: Lindsay Tanner , From: The Australian, October 26, 2011

MICROSOFT co-founder Bill Gates recently described universities as an endangered species. The university’s traditional role as creator, curator and distributor of knowledge is under direct threat from the internet, he said.

This is a profound challenge for an institution that pre-dates almost all others in western civilisation.

” There’s been an awful lot about “e” and not much about “learning”. Plenty of tech, very little pedagogy.

New technologies don’t just change how we do things. They change what we do. Satisfying our collective needs and desires involves an intricate web of countless tiny choices. When the means of pursuing our aims changes, so does the calculus underpinning these choices. And that means we change.

Universities perform several functions: they teach, research, credential and socialise. Alternative ways of doing these things are emerging, and they don’t necessarily involve universities. The digital revolution doesn’t just demand that we change our delivery systems: it’s forcing us to rethink teaching and learning, too.

A recent Victoria University review of e-learning technologies observes: “If the new VU eLearning Environment is merely a technically superior version of what it replaces, it will have failed . . . technical support must be complemented by pedagogical support that challenges the taken-for-granted and encourages new pedagogical practices that can take advantage of the technically improved environment”.

“Put these three trends together and the implications are clear. More demanding customers in a more demand-driven system largely liberated from previous technological constraints. If ever there was a prescription for fundamental change in higher education, this is it.”



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