sue watling

Teaching in Public

November 7, 2009 | 2 Comments

I’ve been reflecting on the concept of Teaching in Public; the proposed theme of the second CERD book. Googling it only returned the C-SAP 2007 Conference Teaching in Public, the Future of HE . It looks like CERD have identified a gap in the market.  So what does Teaching in Public mean? With so little out there then this is an opportunity to offer our own interpretations. Suggested strands are Education as a Public Good, The Student/Teacher Nexus and Teaching as a Public Activity; all retaining the student/teacher dichotomy. 

My interest is the impact of the Internet and the development of OER. For example the Open University’s OpenLearn which includes a course on Creating OER  and an OER wiki Other examples of what I would call Teaching in Public are MIT Open Courseware, TED Talks , Wiki Educator  and Connextions.  Add the P2P virtual university and there’s a lot out there. There are issues around assessment and accreditation but no doubt that the future of higher education is digital. Like it or not we live in a Web 2.0 world. Teaching in Public is a move from pedagogy to folksomony. Traditional educationalists should be feeling afraid. Those yet to engage with the technology should be feeling very afraid.

OER (via the Internet) does more than challenge the status quo of HEIs as the gatekeepers of knowledge. OER (and the Internet) open up communication and access to information; the keys to educational opportunities. The primary issues then become digital divides (ensuring equality of access) and digital controls (transmission via cables rather than humans). Is this where the future of HE lies? If the themes include ‘public good’ and ‘public activity’ then access issues are paramount. Digital data not only requires good bandwidth it’s notoriously inaccessible to anyone with sensory, motor and cognitive impairment.  Along with the employability agenda, will the primary role of the HEI shift from the transmission of knowledge to the critical evaluation and correct acknowledgment of sources that are already freely available?  

I’ve few political bones and even less economic ones so will leave those implications of OER on teaching in public to others more qualified, but will offer this; the move to a digital platform, as envisaged by Digital Britain  is a mass imposition of change in practice, something notorious for creating resistance. If there should develop an underground movement of analogue protestors, what impact would that have on the future of higher education?



2 Comments so far

  1.    Julian on November 8, 2009 10:27 am      

    Hmmm. A sort of Amish university I presume? An intriguing prospect.

  2. Profile photo of Sue Watling   Sue Watling on November 8, 2009 11:13 am      

    History suggests that resistance is in human nature; you are right – it’s an intriguing thought and interesting to reflect on. But it’s not that far removed from my current OU unit which consists of me, an A4 folder and a set book. There’s none of the elearning tools used in units 1-4; no online forum, web links, blog, eportfolio, wiki – it’s like the Internet and all it can offer a distance learner just doesn’t exist. Evidence that one arm of the digital divide is alive and well and living in Milton Keynes…

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