British universities must become much more radical with technology, or sink into obscurity
A salutory warning received by email from JISC:
“British universities will lose their leading international standing unless they become much more radical in their use of new technology, a JISC commissioned report says today.
British universities occupy four of the top ten world rankings and the UK is one of the top destinations for international students. But the Edgeless University, conducted by Demos on behalf JISC, suggests that a slowness to adopt new models of learning will damage this competitive edge.
The research showed that the recession has put universities under intense pressure as threats to funding combine with increasing demand. A wave of applicants is expected to hit universities this summer as record numbers of unemployed young people seek to ‘study out’ the recession.
The report says that online and social media could help universities meet these demands by reaching a greater number of students and improving the quality of research and teaching. Online and DIY learning can create ‘edgeless universities’ where information, skills and research are accessible far beyond the campus walls.
Malcolm Read OBE, Executive Secretary for JISC, which supported the research, said: ‘The UK is a leading force in the delivery of higher education and its universities and colleges have been punching well above their weight for some time.
Safeguarding this reputation means we have to fight harder to stay ahead of developments in online learning and social media, and embracing the Web 2.0 world.
‘This is a great opportunity for UK universities and colleges to open up and make learning more accessible to students who would not traditionally stay on in education. ‘Edgeless universities’ can transform the way the UK delivers, shares and uses the wealth and quality of information its institutions own.’
The report also calls for universities to acknowledge the impact of the internet by making academic research freely available online. Author of the report, Peter Bradwell, said: ‘The internet and social networks mean that universities are now just one part of the world of learning and research. This means we need their support and expertise more than ever. Just as the music industry may have found the answer to declining CD sales with Spotify, universities must embrace online knowledge sharing and stake a claim in the online market for information.’
The report makes a series of recommendations for opening up university education, including making all research accessible to the public. It says teaching should be placed on a more even footing with research in career progression and status and teaching which uses new technology rewarded.
Read the full report www.jisc.ac.uk/edge09
Read more about Demos here www.demos.co.uk“