Permalink for this paragraph 2 The past 12 months witnessed significant developments in open education, such as the increasing visibility of the Khan Academy and the flipped classroom model, the launch of MITx’s open learning platform and its plans to provide certificates for a small fee, and Stanford professors Peter Norvig and Sebastian Thrun’s Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) that attracted 160,000 registrants. Such developments are sparking concerns about looming disruptions to higher education and speculations about the ways that colleges should position themselves. With global competition, the ongoing growth of blended and online learning, and pressures to reduce cost, colleges face a strategic challenge to define their value and plan for the future in an environment of uncertainty and fluctuation. As Siemens and Matheos ask, “What value does a university provide society when educational resources and processes are open and transparent?”
Permalink for this paragraph 1 Now, as we shift into an era defined by the open, participatory web, new educational structures and competitors are emerging, although elite liberal arts colleges may be cushioned somewhat by their ability to offer “more of a customized collaborative experience.” OER initiatives such as MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) suggest that universities no longer derive key strategic value from delivering educational content, but instead from fostering community and conversation among faculty and students. Already we are seeing new approaches to open education emerge, such as Massive Open Online Courses to deliver learning; the development of badging systems to accredit learning; and assessment-driven, personalized learning systems such as the Open Learning Initiative.
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According to David Wiley, if universities do not adapt to this world of digital content and open education, “Your institutions will be irrelevant by 2020.” Likewise, Richard DeMillo sees open education and for-profit education as parts of looming disruptions facing higher education. He suggests that universities—particularly those in the “Middle,” “reputable” but not elite—face critical decisions: “The Middle desperately needs a new way of doing
business that can navigate these waters. Technology cannot come to the rescue, but without new technology change may be impossible. Technology may lie on every road to the future, but only for those universities that can explain why they should survive.” Colleges and universities must devise strategies appropriate to the digital age, strategies that define their value and unique identity as well as the role that technology (and open education) will play.
Permalink for this paragraph 0 Will such developments threaten small liberal arts colleges, open up opportunities for them to offer students a wider range of educational opportunities, or have minimal impact? How should small liberal arts colleges respond to the open education movement, in which they have been under-represented: join in? join together? ignore it? This working paper represents an initial attempt to answer such questions, drawing upon a survey of CIOs at NITLE member colleges, interviews, and an analysis of published literature.
Permalink for this paragraph 0  Marc Parry, “MIT Will Offer Certificates to Outside Students Who Take Its Online Courses,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, December 19, 2011, sec. Technology, http://chronicle.com/article/MIT-Will-Offer-Certificates-to/130121.
Permalink for this paragraph 0  Steve Kolowich, “Massive Courses, Sans Stanford,” Inside Higher Ed, January 24, 2012, http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/01/24/stanford-open-course-instructors-spin-profit-company.
Permalink for this paragraph 0  George Siemens and Kathleen Matheos, “Systemic Changes in Higher Education,” In Education 16, no. 1 (May 2010), http://ineducation.ca/article/systemic-changes-higher-education.
Permalink for this paragraph 0  Don Tapscott, “The Impending Demise of the University,” Edge, June 4, 2009, http://edge.org/3rd_culture/tapscott09/tapscott09_index.html.
Permalink for this paragraph 0  Kevin Carey, “The Quiet Revolution in Open Learning,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 15, 2011, sec. Commentary, http://chronicle.com/article/The-Quiet-Revolution-in-Open/127545/.
Permalink for this paragraph 0  Elaine Jarvik, “Universities Will Be ‘Irrelevant’ by 2020, Y. Professor Says,” Deseret News, April 21, 2009, http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705298649/Universities-will-be-irrelevant-by-2020-Y-professor-says.html.