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Innovating Higher Education

To get cracking…

…revise pages 187-20 of Chapter 7 and really get your head around the theory in the text. Then, read this report reviewing massive online open courses – or MOOCs – and how they ignited changes in the higher education industry.

So, to summarise…

Online education has been around forever, but MOOCs, which are subjects offered fully online for free, have only been around for a few years.  At first, they went ballistic.  Millions of people enrolled in subjects offered by elite universities, which they could have never attended in person, and got access to the knowledge of world renowned professors.  Speculations about the death of traditional higher education were made, and it seemed like the industry was changed forever.

It seemed that students would no longer pay as much for education.  They would just enrol in free MOOCs, pay a bit extra for accreditation, and become graduates of elite universities.  All other universities would have to look for another job.

Then, things settled down a bit, as MOOCs problems became apparent.  MOOCs’ tiny completion rates (around 5% at many subjects) and stories of plagiarism reduced a bit of the enthusiasm.  Also, it seemed like a lot of MOOCs were not very innovative, and therefore not very attractive: they were just online versions of traditional content delivery, not very inspiring or engaging.  It is actually the non-elite universities who do a better job.  Those universities have had to attract students not with their reputation but with their practices.  They have therefore developed great online delivery practices over the last two decades.

But MOOCs are still out there, providers keep joining, and universities realise that they have to do something.  For example, Macquarie University is joining in and presenting an innovative subject of “Big History” – big events in the history of everything. 

Another type of organisation involved in this new direction is the MOOC platform providers, and here too Australia has a reason for pride.  OpenLearning is not only the first Australian MOOC platform, and not only is it innovative in providing student connectivity and experience, it is also now contracted by the federal government to deliver a regulatory impact analysis MOOC for the next four years. 

Some issues to notice and pay particular attention to here are…

  • Categories of organisational change
  • Overcoming barriers to change
  • Stress
  • Innovation variables
  • Idea champions
  • Change agents

Consider the following questions for discussion…

  1. There are a few organisations mentioned in this post: universities, MOOC providers, and the government.  Which categories of change affecting each of them can you identify in this post?  Have a look at Figure 7.1
  2. Your textbook mentions a few causes of resistance to change 174-175.  Which ones do you expect to operate in each of the organisations mentioned? 
  3. The textbook also mentions techniques for overcoming resistance to change (pp. 195-196, and Table 7.1).  Which ones would you have employed in each organisation?
  4. How likely do you think the change in the agency would result in employee stress?   Which of the techniques to reduce stress among staff suggested on pp. 198-199 would you think are the most appropriate?
  5. Which of the innovation variables presented in Figure 7.3 do you think are prominent in the organisations mentioned?  How would their presence (or absence) affect the change introduced by the rise of MOOCs?