Yesterday I finished reading “What Would Google Do?” by Jeff Jarvis. Amazing text. I was pleased to get a Twitter from him asking him about my new ideas as a result of reading it. As I write this post, I’m wondering how much of an “Apple” I should pull–how discreet I should be at this point as we have new work in-progress that is in non-disclosure, versus being totally open with my ideas–a central tenet of Jarvis’s book.
One of the later chapters in the text (Google U) discusses potential implications of the Google Way for universities. It was a good overview chapter, but surprisingly, didn’t give me the depth I was looking for as we seek to continue to evolve the way we “do” education in our EDTECH program at Boise State. However, in earlier chapters, I was able to glean many great ideas that can be parlayed into educational realms:
1. Make curriculum open. While many in educational technology are starting to work openly (George Siemens does a good job at this), most of us keep our curriculum guarded. After all, if you’re an online program, what distinguishes your program from every other online degree around the country? People will choose your university for several reasons: 1) cost, 2) prestige of degree, 3) innovativeness and/or reputation of program, 4) reputation of faculty, 5) friend referral, 6) potential for employment with a specific degree from a specific university.
On our website, http://edtech.boisestate.edu we are very open with tons of information. All class syllabi are listed, schedules, faculty information, projects in-progress. We are also re-working our site and putting it in Drupal to make it more dynamic. However, what you don’t see are our curriculum modules. These have value. What happens if we make all that curriculum freely available on the web? Do we lose our advantage? Jarvis gave me lots of reasons that confirmed it could be distinct advantage to offer-up our online curriculum to the public.
2. Create platforms that organize bodies of information for others, and provide the gadgets that get that information easily to the user. Don’t make the user come to you. Fascinating! This process mirrors tenets of social constructivism and connectivism in learning theory. Now we have the actual tools to make it happen. As we train teachers, older existing pedagogical models such as cooperative learning now have new mechanisms to facilitate that process. So what could that organization look like? A Moodle learning site incorporating streamed feeds? Google map mash-ups that overlay audio and video to create place-based curriculum? Twitter communities of educational technologists that can be subscribed to with one click of a button? What if we overlay college credit on top of these technologies and curriculum to rethink what a college education could look like in 2009?
Jeff, I look forward to sharing more concrete examples of these ideas and how they play out in educational technology and teacher/faculty training. For now, I return to our Apple-ized approach to keeping things closed until we are ready to release a quality product that can be modified and improved by the community. Thanks!