A friend of mine used to walk on the Greek islands. Cemeteries there have many photos on the tombstones of the dear departed. He decided he would like to have a tape-recording instead on his, but so far as I know he has never made up his mind about what he would say.*
During a 1995 Computer-Assisted Learning conference after-dinner speech, in New College Cambridge, I pointed to the portraits round the dining hall. In future, I suggested, these would be holograms of distinguished professors, and from beyond the grave they would answer your questions (using artificial intelligence of course). Among the diners, I picked out Tim O’Shea, now Vice-Chancellor of Edinburgh University, as likely to become worthy of a hologram – and a seat in the House of Lords. He liked that idea.
Cast your mind forward to 2020. Among e-learning researchers of the early 21st century, a few may deserve hologram recognition. In the Fourth Dimension Virtual Hall of Fame you will find those who contributed to theory and practice in our field. Here are three questions I would like to ask them:
1. Which outstanding pieces of research do you recall and who were they by?
2. What were the major barriers to adoption of e-learning?
3. Did you make any major mistakes and what did you learn from them?
Perhaps you already have an inkling of the answers. If so, why not publish them in this blog?
*Gumpert, Gary (1987) Talking Tombstones and Other Tales of the Media Age. New York: Oxford University Press.
Posted by ILI Leicester on July 20, 2009
Almost half of British industries have no intentions of employing any of the hundreds of thousands of new graduates who will flood the job market in the next three months, according to a study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and KPMG, reported in today’s Independent.
Gerwyn Davis, public policy adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has said: ”It is going to be a long, hot summer for many of this year’s graduates and school leavers, as they sweat over their chances of finding work. Employers have for a long time had doubts about the employability skills of those leaving education, and this year’s crop face employers in a more choosey mood than ever before. Against this backdrop, graduates and school leavers need to sharpen their case for being picked ahead of their classmates – and fast.”
The question is, what will be the lesson learnt for those who are still in high school, but who observe what is happening to their older peers after graduation. In all likelihood they will take it into account when deciding whether to go into higher education when their time comes.
What will be the outcome for universities in the future, when government targets of getting 50 per cent of young people into higher education are weighed against consideration that the average graduate today, who is likely to be leaving university owing £16,000 for tuition fees, is considered for employment by only 50% of employers? And given that bodies like the very Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, mentioned above, come forward with advice like “Employers have for a long time had doubts about the employability skills of those leaving education… students need to get work experience, demonstrate a broad range of non-study related skills…” A university degree is no longer the surest way to a good job. In fact, the winner of the “Best Job in the World”, (care-taker of a tropical island with a salary of 70 000 UKP) advertised by the Australian Board of Tourism landed the job in tough global competition, after an innovative marketing campaign that highlighted the power of social media, rather than qualifications and diplomas (you can see some of the applications on Youtube here: http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=islandreefjob&view=videos&start=40).
The first universities were institutional innovation centres which emerged in the 12th to 14th century Europe as a result of the need to consolidate and expand intellectual resources in response to increasing demands for knowledge and skills in the economy and society. Despite debates whether universities have remained these “medieval organisations,” unchanged over the 700-800 years of their existence or have been transformed by major changes, consensus seems to prevail about intensifying pressures for reform in higher education institutions today. It is important that planning and management are not dominated by short-term thinking about immediate problems and maintaining established practices. Neglect of the long term is increasingly problematic in meeting the challenges of complexity and change in higher education. In order to be able to look beyond the constraints of the present, especially when the investment of significant resources is concerned, higher education institutions need to sharpen their capacity to systematically explore and connect together various driving forces, trends, and conditioning factors so as to envisage alternative futures for themselves and for higher education.
BDRA, 26 May 2009
Posted by ILI Leicester on May 27, 2009