Effective Examples of Educational Technology and Priorities for Future Investment

author: Andrew A. Chien, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, UC San Diego
author: Chris J. Mackie, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
author: Irving Wladawsky-Berger, Engineering Systems Division, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT
author: Ashok S. Kolaskar, Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology, KIIT University
moderator: James J. Duderstadt, University of Michigan
published: Jan. 3, 2013,   recorded: December 2006,   views: 3844

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James Duderstadt believes recent efforts to digitize scholarly journals, along with Google’s massive digital library enterprise, “could be as important as the Internet in changing the scaffolding for learning and scholarship in the world.” In this final panel of the iCampus series, Duderstadt asks his colleagues to take up the question of how to propagate or scale up successful initiatives in educational technology, so that they have a transformative impact on higher education.

Andrew Chien points to the evolution of retail e-commerce, with many merchants following trailblazers like Amazon, and some ultimately serving as “portals to enable small players to accelerate their reach and innovation.” Chien suggests that over time, “collaboration and competition will allow us to choose from a variety of interesting things.”

The Mellon Foundation believes that for technology to succeed, it must be developed collaboratively in the first place, says Chris Mackie. In an effort to “reduce the predilections of institutions to build silos and a balkanized world,” Mellon is talking to different institutions “about the concept of building an academic services bus environment to match enterprise services bus environments.”

Technology can be counted successful only if it “resonates in the marketplace,” says Irving Wladawsky-Berger. “What’s an example of exciting technology that people like?” he asks. “Highly visual interfaces—there are millions of people playing games.” Wladawsky-Berger says he’s “convinced that embracing highly interactive approaches in cyberinfrastructure and the Internet will revolutionize the way people interact with machines at all levels.” He also endorses engaging learners and teaching problem-solving skills through story-telling techniques.

In India and other developing nations, says Ashok S. Kolaskar, there are “many people living in the 17th century, with infrastructure very behind.” For large numbers of Indians who have no access to a decent education, technology is critical. Building an extensive broadband network, and providing something like OpenCourseWare could “bring up the bar,” and make the difference between a community college education and advanced higher education. Kolaskar also emphasizes teacher training, since the new “plug and play generation” knows more about technology than their elders.

Initiating a freewheeling exchange between panelists and such distinguished audience members as Chuck Vest and John Seely Brown, Duderstadt discusses lifelong secondary learning opportunities for all adults (assuming that increasing life spans will mean people lead productive careers into their 80s and 90s). Vest urges that with an aging workforce, “Somehow we must find ways of intelligently mixing generations on a large scale, so we’re learning from each other in a new and different way.” Chris Mackie says technologies could play a crucial role in establishing “cross generational models” of higher ed, supporting students from the earliest age, and helping mentor them via alumni networks when out of college.

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