Digital accessibility has been at the forefront of many institutional discussions following the introduction of the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations 2018 which came in to effect on the 23rd of September 2018 setting out accessibility standards that must be met by all Public Sector Bodies including universities https://www.gov.uk/guidance/accessibility-requirements-for-public-sector-websites-and-apps#accessibility-standards
It’s been a positive challenge to study my Open University H880 module this year, at times very challenging when work has been especially busy. However, juggling and sometimes struggling have led to exciting and energising outcomes in recent weeks. We were asked to read the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and consider the connections between them and our course. Contextualising my learning, and then my work, in terms of the SDGs has given me a new focus. Academic development has the purpose of enhancing learning and teaching in higher education. SD Goal 4 is Quality Education: to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. This refers to all levels of education, and to learning across our lives. Access to technology is addressed as part of gender equality in Goal 5. Our work as teachers/educators, academic developers, educational technologists, and indeed open practitioners, links directly with the SDGs. We seek to improve the educational experiences of all students, and help our institutions to achieve their access and retention missions. This has been valuable in helping kick-start work ahead of the new academic year, but has also started me thinking again about how we frame academic development in relation to open education.
Normally I wouldn’t cover stock market news, not even when a leading Online Program Management (OPM) company’s stock drops 65% in one day. But this followed a frank assessment of the OPM market, and that is worth covering. ” Online program management is a difficult business to be in. Online education is increasingly competitive, student acquisition and marketing costs are going up, and the regulatory landscape is becoming more complex… attracting large numbers of students to a particular online program is more challenging and more expensive than it was just a few years ago.” Those who watch the technology space in general will recognize this as a familiar pattern – when you tie yourself to a platform, whether it’s Facebook or the university system, your fortunes are tied to that platform, and that platform will eventually turn on you.
Direct link: https://www.insidehighered.com/digital-learning/article/2019/08/01/bad-day-2u-highlights-vulnerability-online-program-management
Tony Bates weighs in with a longish and well-thought-out post on the potential future of public education through the vehicle of a news report on education in the future province (?) of Cascadia: ” Forget content delivery. Almost all the content we need to teach is already out there on the Internet, either as open educational resources or freely available through the Internet… we had to focus on the hard stuff, and that is high-level skills development that requires a skilled person – an instructor, although I prefer the term ‘counsellor’ – to help with the learning and training.”
Direct Link: https://www.tonybates.ca/2019/07/28/some-thoughts-on-the-future-of-public-higher-education/
Bryan Alexander discusses the strategies being pursued by universities in the face of fiscal pressure: “Quality over quantity, right-sizing (from corporate America): key words for describing this strategy.” But there’s a disturbing aspect to this: “Will those be students from wealthier families?” The thing is, the more universities serve a small wealthy elite, the less there will be broad support for public funding. We already see this with complaints that student grants and loan forgiveness only benefit the rich. A lack of public support pushes them to contract even more. It’s a downward spiral universities can correct only if they find a way to serve the wider public. Of course, my scepticism is such that I don’t think many of them really have an interest in doing that.
Direct link: https://bryanalexander.org/horizon-scanning/how-to-shrink-a-university-and-how-to-talk-about-it-one-campus-begins-the-process/
Staffordshire University’s 2030 strategy aims to make it the UK’s leading digital university. It’s an ambitious goal and to achieve it the university is working on a large culture change project that has staff and student digital capabilities at its core. The aim is to make sure people are equipped with the skills they’ll need to make the most of all that Education 4.0 has to offer.