The Futurelearn project for MOOC in the UK is getting closer to launch and some press interest. Through Twitter I found a link to BBC Newsnight . ( Skip to about 25 minutes in if you don't want the rest of it) Rough notes without copying the whole script
Starts with Paxman comparing most student life with "some crummy bedsit in pot noodle land" compares with working online in comfort. David Grossman reports on the MOOC ( massive, open, online course ) as working in the USA, mentions Harvard, MIT and Stanford.
But in UK the biggest names are either "missing the boat" or "engaging in clever brand management. " . Interview with Dr Sally Mapstone who emphasises the value of the tutorial experience at Oxford and the preferred teaching ratios of 1:1 or 2:1 . no mention of Cambridge at all. My comment is that the British Library must be a welcome partner as they have a pretty good stock of books. Maybe Oxford and Cambridge are not essential.
Bill Clinton is quoted on the costs of higher education claiming that "the only sustainable answer is to find a less expensive delivery system". Someone from Futurelearn quoted "I am sure that a combination of online delivery and campus delivery can deliver some aspects of education more cheaply than a purely campus based experience." ( sorry missed the name)
David Willetts still sees Futurelearn as a UK thing. There are now universities involved from Ireland and Australia. I hope there are more from Europe. Willetts also mentioned analytics, the use of statistics to improve future courses. I know from discussion on Networked Learning that analytics can be seen as fairy dust or worse. Some academics are not used to thinking about teaching as a mass process.
This is just one aspect where I think the quality issues I have been thinking about as part of the print industry will start to crop up in universities and education. It may be easier to get attention for quality ideas as they seem more relevant. The Newsnight intro compared the possible scope for disruption to the impact of mp3 on the music industry.
I am thinking about how to report this on a local level. I live in Exeter and visit Lancaster fairly often except in the winter. Both universities are part of the Futurelearn project. I don't know what this will mean for any changes in the campus design. Both are investing in buildings without any sign of slowing down. But there is some sign in Exeter that there may be too much accommodation for students. I think one site on Sidwell Street may be under occupied but two more are under construction by different companies. Both offer improved broadband, not sure how this compares with university offers. If the combination in future is more online and less on campus there may be less need for residence. As part of the new Forum Exeter University decided against allowing Blackwells any longterm space for a bookshop. This seems to have been a design decision about the look and feel of modern retail space. But if you don't need a bookshop, what is the case for a library or anything else?
Continues as local chat.