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Blended Learning Inspiration Open education

Technology to save Universities

Stephen Laster, Chief Information Officer, Harvard Business School, delivers his Viewpoint in the most receny Educause Review. Insisting on the dire financial situation of students and Universities alike, he stresses that technology offers an opportunity to solve these issues. The Learning Management Systems (LMS) as a plat-form or in the cloud….

Other articles present the top 10 technology issues Universities face as well as some functional requirements of technology applied to education.

In closing, see this article about 2012 top ten trends in academic from C&RL News.

Inspiration Research Universities

‘Reinventing the Research University’ by James Duderstadt

This post from Diane Goldenberg-Hart on the Coalition for Networked Information’s (CNI) mailing list (CNI-ANNOUNCE: caught my eye It features James J. Duderstadt, who is (from the email):

is President Emeritus at the University of Michigan, he chaired the National Academies committee that published the key 2002 report Preparing for the Revolution: Information Technology and the Future of the Research University, and he is a member of the Academies committee studying the future of the research university. In this talk, Duderstandt discusses the social and technological trends driving the restructuring of higher education, the future role of the research university, and the changing understandings of teaching and learning, scholarship, and engagement.

The theme of the talk is “Reinventing the Research University to Serve a Changing World” and was delivered at the opening plenary from CNI’s spring 2012 membership meeting:

The video is over an hour long, so here are some slides that caught my eye :





The full video is also available on CNI’s two video channels: YouTube: or Vimeo:
Or via their channels: YouTube or Vimeo

Inspiration Universities

Changing universities

The student strikes in Québec and the debate surrounding higher-education costs are but a single example of the pressures affecting universities. Here are some interesting takes on this issue:

TEDxRyersonU – Dr. Alan Shepard – Think Different: Why Universities Need to Change

You might like “Imagining the Future of the University” on the Chronicle of Higher Education blog by “Prof. Hacker” on March 15, 2012.

Also of interest, is this article by John Tagg in Change (the Magazine of higher learning) called Why Does the Faculty Resist Change?. The article presents the difficulties in managing and optimizing the curriculum in universities.

In my personal opinion, Universities are a complex ecosystem where a multitude of fauna and flora interact to create and foster a learning environment for individuals and society at large. It imposes itself a style constraint, where “democracy” is taken to a level of consensual decision-making with little regard to the end-result. Process over outcome. This is not bad in and of itself, just something one does not encounter in many places – I would assume the United Nations and perhaps (still) certain government agencies…

The problem is that everybody is involved in decisions, but it is hard to find someone responsible. Discussion is key and we all take a (small) step at the same time. Frustrating and inefficient for some, fascinating and collaborative for others. I haven’t yet figured out the key elements that can halt or hurry a project, but I assume humility and openness are key elements.

But trying to get a project to start is not obvious, but absolutely rewarding given the potential benefits for society!

Inspiration Open education

MOOCs and open education

MOOCs, MITx and Udacity. Should university education be open to all and free of cost? These and related questions are explored in two recent blog post on The Guardian’s Higher Education Network blog.

MITx is testing alternate delivery mechanism, with a low-cost course on electronics this semester (and more announced in the Fall). Also of note, Steven Schwartz‘s mention Sebastian Thrun’s Udacity, great examples of open education. But most interesting are the MOOCs.

Bonnie Stewart presents open online learning environments called Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC). For an introduction to Moocs, watch this video :


Actually, the initiative is housed at the University of Prince Edward Island – they’ve used the technology to launch a MOOC for new students called

For more information, see this MOOC Guide Wiki.

Hat tips to Bonnie Stewart for her great post and to Steven Schwartz for his Universities leading the way with education technology, both on the (newly discovered) Higher Education Network blog on The Guardian.


iPad helps high school students with algebra

Wired’s Gadget Lab column highlights a study of high school students using an electronic textbook for their algebra class. The result?

The iPad seems to help students better connect with the content at hand.

“Students’ interaction with the device was more personal. You could tell students were more engaged,” said Coleman Kells, principal of Amelia Earhart Middle School. “Using the iPad was more normal, more understandable for them.”

Tablets could be less daunting to students, too. Marita Scarfi, CEO of digital-focused marketing agency Organic, says that moving textbooks to mobile devices will reinvent learning.

“Now you don’t know if a book is super huge and formidable,” Scarfi says. “Learning can be done in snackable chunks. It could be reoriented.”

The article from Wired provides links to the study and other bits on this initiative.

Information literacy Inspiration

Some MERLOT with PRIMO for inspiration

This post presents the PRIMO (Peer-Reviewed Instructional Materials Online) and the MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Teaching and Learning) projects.

Under the ALA/ACRL umbrella, one can find the PRIMO Committee of the Instruction section. Of the many things they do, they offer a database of Peer-Reviewed Instructional Materials Online – aka the PRIMO database.

Peer-Reviewed Instructional Materials Online Database

I remember in the past that a team at Concordia University Libraries (of which I was a member) was awarded the “site of the month” award for June 2006 from the PRIMO Committee for our InfoResearch 101 project.

I remember stumbling on the MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Teaching and Learning) repository about a year ago. It contained a few interesting sites relating to business, such as Stanford’s Educators Corner or the Beginner’s Guide to Business Research.

According to their site, MERLOT is a

MERLOT is a free and open online community of resources designed primarily for faculty, staff and students of higher education from around the world to share their learning materials and pedagogy. MERLOT is a leading edge, user-centered, collection of peer reviewed higher education, online learning materials, catalogued by registered members and a set of faculty development support services.