Here's an opportunity to read between the lines as B. Gates and Tim O'Rielly have a discussion on the future.
My colleague John Martin has mentioned Will Richardson several times and I have heard him referenced on EdTechTalk.com. I spent some time this weekend reading his new book (that John let me borrow). Mr. Richardson has done a pretty good job of describing how blogging, wikis, and the other new web tools can be used in the classroom. He also develops and supports a strong vision of how these technologies are affecting classroom learning. I'll be returning the book to John, but I will be picking up my own copy to share with a few friends.
Dan Bricklin's WikiCalc is worth keeping an eye on.Â It currently is only in alpha release, but I like where he is going with it. Check it out at: http://www.softwaregarden.com/wkcalpha/
Ray Kurzweil's "The Singularity is Near" has been on my must-read list for awhile, but after looking through his ppt I'm going to bump it up just a bit.
A couple ofÂ my Web2.0Â aware colleagues are alsoÂ adjunctsÂ that use personal blogs to post syllabi and conduct course discussions.Â They may also be using products such as, wikis, WritelyÂ or perhaps Â iRow.Â My Course Management System (CMS))Â roots go back to 1.1 or 1.2 of WebCT.Â I have always been a strong supporter of web-based tools that help structure the learning experience. I have used them mostly in blended course design situations.Â
At one time, it was also one of my responsibilities to promote the use of WebCT.Â Â On more than one occasion, the issue of course quality or consistency within a program, would be raised.Â There would be discussions regardingÂ the balance between academic freedom,Â a consitent user experience, and the need for the insitution to brandÂ the program or course.Â Â These issues continue to be topics of discussion and now are taking a slightly new twist.
My colleague's decision to use Web2.0 sites, driven by their technological interests, as part of their instructionalÂ tool-set has opened another dimension to the issues.Â I wonderÂ how long before their approach to online instruction, i.e., using a set of loosely-coupled, web-based tools at whatever insitution they are presently instructing,Â becomes the norm?Â Â Â How long before the pool of adjuncts, who often migrateÂ between institutions, only use the CMS ofÂ a host institution because theyÂ mustÂ and only as jump-site to their own resources?Â Clearly, this empowers the pool of adjuncts to create not only instructional content, butÂ to use an instructional infrastructureÂ that formallyÂ had been provided by the host institutions.Â
What impact on institutional instructional quality control, as much as they exist, will this have?Â Â How will institutions react to theÂ commodification of the instructional experience byÂ a migratory adjunct pool?Â What policy issues will need to be revised as the walled-gardened gives way to the open range?Â With CMS,Â institutions could at least brand the experience as their own, but the adjunct whoÂ migrates, whether betweenÂ Ivy or Public, withÂ his or her ownÂ set ofÂ instructional tools will be providing essentially the same experience for their courses, regardless of whereÂ the students registered.Â What additional opportunities will develop for off-shoring distance education courses?Â The traditional stipend for an adjunct goes a lot further in India than in the USA.
Given higher ed.'s dependency on adjuncts, thisÂ is anÂ interesting situation.Â