Fancy a coffee and a chat?

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Thanks for the feedback from Meet-o-matic. From the responses so far it looks like the morning of Thursday 3rd October is a good fit; so let’s go for that day. I suggest we go from 11:00am up to lunchtime, so I’ll be in the Costa Coffee in Park Place, Cardiff from then.

Looking forward to seeing all who are interested in chatting about using Dropbox or not) – thanks Simon for the recent post, iOS7 (maybe), MOOC’s (possibly), FutureLearn (almost certainly) and Digidol (probably). All that and more. If you have an idea of something you’d like to chat about – just get in touch using the form on this page.

A change of Google+ posting strategy

I posted this on Google+ to earlier today, and +Simon Wood (@MrSimonWood) suggested I owed it to the twitter community I used to be so active in, to explain where I’d been, and what and why I’d decided to change my Google+ posting strategy that might mean that links to some of my Google+ posts appeared more regularly on twitter. So here’s what I wrote earlier today to the Circles that I post to on Google+. I hope it makes sense. I also hope you don’t mind me hi-jacking “Thought grazing …” for the purpose – again it just seemed the best place to put it.

We ought to have another meet-up at Costa Coffee soon … shouldn’t we?

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A change in Google+ direction today for me, so please excuse this post which explains what I’m doing, and why.

My main use of Google+ since it started has been as a platform for targeted postings to Circles – I have many which align with my interests and relationships. Some intersect, some are discreet. When you have quite a few circles (as I have) they’re difficult to maintain and even more difficult to select from, for a targeted post. My strategy has been successful however, I feel, and a few of my circle members are now active users of Google+.

Using such an approach has seen my use of twitter decrease significantly – there’s only so much social interaction you can engage in – but I’m very aware that whilst I’ve enjoyed being part of the new Google+ ecosystem, I shouldn’t have turned my back on twitter as much as I had with Facebook, for which I make no apology for my desertion.

So from today, whilst not changing the way I use Circles and Communities – which really works and provides “safe” places for conversations, I intend to do more Public posting to Google+ all of which will be picked-up by ManageFlitter and tweeted. Hopefully, this will also encourage more of my friends, contacts and acquaintances to become active in Google+ as well. I will have a purpose to look-in on twitter more often as well.

For this to work, I’ll have to make sure the first 100 characters or so of my Google+ post concisely explains the content. A link to the Google+ post will be provided in the tweet, which will lead the reader into Google+.

So to you my Google+ readers … your feed from me may become a little “noisier”. Either turn the volume from me down, or just ignore posts that you’re not interested in. I’ll see how it goes – I’ll be interested in your feedback.

A personal reflection on “Do online courses spell the end for the traditional university?”

My daughter drew my attention to an article in The Observer yesterday … Do online courses spell the end for the traditional university? It’s a really well-written summary of where we are today with online higher education. I don’t think anyone has quite worked out how the business model will end up however. I’ve always felt that accreditation by a traditional university is probably the best way – and that is why Edinburgh’s attempts are interesting.

However, I’m convinced that it’s culture that’s the most significant barrier to change and that this is the most significant barrier to adoption of change. The emphasis is still on research in the older universities; that’s where cudos is gained and that is where significant funding comes from. I can’t see them wishing to move away significantly from that mission. However, we may see new-style universities embracing MOOC and offering accreditation of such courses, and adopting strongly blended learning onsite and supporting online distance learning as well as a counterpoint for under-graduate education. Or, and this will really challenge a large part of the Higher Education marketplace, well-established prestigious institutions will setup different organisations, franchise their brand to others, or have collectives of partner organisations that work with them to award their degrees. This has all been experimented with before. Some institutions have got their fingers burnt in the process, but the incentive to do it again – at least onshore in the UK – is compelling.

This will lead inevitably to consolidation in the sector and less universities and probably more local attendance at universities, if attendance at all. There will have to be real added-value to attend a university as an undergraduate; that’s why another article in The Guardian – Our universities are at great risk. We must act now to defend them – should be read alongside the one in The Observer. My take on the second one is that it is not just academics that need to change, but more importantly the policy-makers and then the administrators. The Guardian article is also interesting because it foresees the student as a customer determining the future of those organisations. Not so much a beauty contest, but more an outcome fest – “what can you deliver for me, that will ensure my future success?” That’s not a bad thing in the fee and debt culture they’re being forced to embrace, but it does mean that university undergraduate education has already changed and will never be the same again.

Of course, all internet start-ups benefit (in the States especially) from vast amounts of venture capital. The culture appears to be more able to embrace technological change and be able to risk failure. What however is significant is that the idealism that drives the innovator eventually has to generate a return on investment; so the success of Udacity, edX, or Coursera is not assured. There’s still time for a different model to emerge that combines the best of online and onsite higher education. However, I still remain convinced that the world of higher education is changing and there will be a lot of casualties along the way for those institutions that don’t address these threats to their current business model.

[Update: On the same day I wrote this, Clay Shirky writes a very entertaining and illuminating blogpost on Napster, Udacity, and The Academy – read it!]