I don’t normally get excited about talk of digital technology disrupting higher education, especially when that talk originates from south of the Canadian border.
MOOCs are an interesting and useful development, but they have settled into a niche for continuing education and corporate training rather than disrupting the current system.
There have been many claims for how artificial intelligence is going to revolutionise higher education. However, at the moment there’s not a lot of AI applications out there that go much beyond pretty standard learning analytics and quantitative assessment and feedback. (If you know of any more interesting applications of AI in HE send in an article for the special edition on AI in HE in the International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education.)
However, digital technologies are already disrupting both the economy and society, and public higher education in Canada is ripe for disruption, not directly but in insidious ways.
As we shall see in the second post in this series, Canadian universities and colleges are mostly absorbing digital technologies into their regular teaching, rather than using it to disrupt the system. But that is just my point. We need to start rethinking the curriculum, rethinking the way we teach, and how we organise our institutions, to take full advantage of what digital technologies can offer.
More importantly, we need to do this to prepare our students better for a digital society and most important of all, if our institutions don’t change, they will eventually be undermined by large multinational online corporations that can do more cheaply and effectively many of the things that universities and colleges are presently doing. The loss to society though if this happens would be immense.
What Canadian post-secondary institutions need to do to avoid negative disruption or even extinction is to make themselves fit for purpose in a digital age. This is what I want to discuss over the next three posts
You can see a presentation on this topic that I made at CNIE 2019 here.