Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Re-organising Universities - Article review

I've been reading this article, 'Re-organizing Universities for the Information Age' by David Annand as part of the flexible learning course that I am doing.

Annand argues that 'University education is still conducted within pre-Industrial Age organisational structures' and suggests that we can expect that Universities will need to transform themselves to meet the needs of more and more students, and increased demand for flexible, cost-efficient learning options. Annand points out that distance education is perhaps a step in the right direction in terms of offering flexibility for students and cites Taylor's ideas of a 'Fifth Generation Learning model'. Annand warns that the traditional inflexibility of University programs does not position a University well for the future, where the demand will increase and be unsustainable in the current, traditional format. In closing, Annand talks about 'irresistible technological, economic, and social imperatives seem about to impose significant change on the conduct of higher education worldwide'.

There are some strong ideas in this article - I love the term 'irresistible technology' - I agree that there is something seductive and captivating about new technology. The lure of something new and fresh and different. But we sometimes get pulled back to reality when we find out that new technology isn't available for everyone. Some people won't have the computers, or the broadband internet to be able to access the 'irresistible technology'. But I will stop this tirade and try and focus back on the article!

I think it is an exciting time to be a PhD student at a University because I feel like we are about to embark on something new. New in terms of delivery of learning, and flexibility of learning and assessment, which will affect the structure of the University, where people are based and how we communicate with each other. As a PhD student hoping to move into a Research or Academic career, I am excited and encouraged by the flexibility that I hope to see available by the time that I complete my research. It's an interesting article and I am keen to hear what other course participants think.



Minhaaj said...

Very well put Helen. Liked your overview of the topic. Great post.

Helen said...

Thanks for the feedback Minhaaj.


Sarah Stewart said...

My main concerns with flexible learning in the way you describe is that you also need to support the student to keep their motivation going. Yes flexible but in a supportive way which may need some direction.