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Weekly Briefing: Interesting Futures for Education

NextThought team May 29, 2019

Learning

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It seems that Chegg has decided to ditch the textbook rental business in favor of its direct-to-student digital learning services and products.

Direct-to-student digital learning services

This isn't surprising, given a declining textbook market and the cost-heavy logistics associated with the rental market, but it also brings up a number of questions that go beyond the simple marketing spin that has investors newly optimistic about Chegg's fortunes. How big is the direct-to-student digital-learning-services market (study aids, tutoring, etc.)? Is it really possible to leverage a foundation in selling study materials to become a major competitor with Amazon (one of Chegg's stated goals)? What happens if/when Amazon expands its foray into the college bookstore market more aggressively? How and when will educational publishers play in this battle.

The biggest impact from the open education movement could be a shift toward an open pedagogy.

Of course, much of this positioning around "what's next" is related to the general assumption that the traditional textbook market will evolve considerably. And, one impetus for such an evolution would certainly be the widespread adoption of OER. As Tony Bates points out, there is no reason to think the advent of OER won't lead to the widespread use of free learning materials. However, we should remember that OER is simply one part of the broader, "open" movement in education. The biggest impact from that movement could be a shift toward an open pedagogy. The topic is certainly gaining traction, and we've contributed our list of proposed qualities associated with this new model of teaching and learning.

  1. agency
  2. choice
  3. expansion
  4. creativity
  5. student-constructed
  6. open-ended problems
  7. unmeasurable outcomes
  8. risk and goodness

Educational technology

While it's a solid bet that open pedagogy will be part of education's future, Audrey Watters reminds us of the great lessons of the past in the research for her book on the history of educational technology. To wit, her post on the subject, How Steve Jobs Brought the Apple II to the Classroom, highlights the important transition of computers in the classroom as a form of innovative pedagogy, to computers in the classroom as an IT issue and responsibility.

Today, our concerns with educational technology have moved beyond the personal computer and, at least from an institutional perspective, are more focused on learning environments. Along those lines, Phil Hill gave a thoughtful presentation recently on new possibilities for learning platforms. In particular, his vision of an evolving frontier that is much more flexible than the traditional walled-garden approach makes me think again of the general shift toward containerization in technology management and service delivery. As an example, see what Spotify has done with its music service.

Institutional libraries

Surprisingly, one of the biggest winners in our brave new world could be institutional libraries. Indeed, our libraries are well-positioned to become the primary publishers and distribution points for teaching and learning materials. As Dave Weinberger states in a recent interview, "Through a library graph, libraries could collectively make available every scrap of information they have about those cultural items." The notion of a library graph springs, in part, from Google's Knowledge Graph, which is a wonderful example of how linked data can be used to bring connected, just-in-time learning content to learners on any platform.

Continuing with our focus on the future, let me point to a presentation Stephen Downes gave recently on the exciting possibilities for a future of student-centered and self-organized systems.

Finally, we should all be getting ready for e-Literate TV. In this preview from the series on personalization in teaching and learning, faculty from Essex County College discuss the changing role of faculty.

How Associations Can Generate Non-Dues Revenue with Online Learning

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Briefing Resources

Chegg Chucks Textbooks Business, Goes All In on Digital — https://www.edsurge.com/n/2015-02-24-chegg-chucks-textbooks-business-goes-all-in-on-digital

Chegg Is Shifting Its Services to Focus on Digital Push — http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/24/business/media/chegg-is-shifting-its-services-to-focus-on-digital.html?_r=1

A future vision for OER and online learning — http://www.tonybates.ca/2015/02/20/a-future-vision-for-oer-and-online-learning/

Thinking about open practice — http://www.k12opened.com/blog/archives/1736

Eight Qualities of Open Pedagogy — https://nextthought.com/thoughts/2015/02/ten-qualities-of-open-pedagogy

Beyond the Walled Garden: New Possibilities with Learning Platforms — http://mfeldstein.com/itc-elearning2015-keynote-video-material/

How Spotify is ahead of the pack in using containers — https://gigaom.com/2015/02/22/how-spotify-is-ahead-of-the-pack-in-using-containers/

Ending the Invisible Library | Linked Data — http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2015/02/technology/ending-the-invisible-library-linked-data/

Is there a library-sized hole in the internet? — http://www.researchinformation.info/news/news_story.php?news_id=1847

New Learning, New Society — http://www.downes.ca/presentation/354

e-Literate TV Preview: Essex County College and changing role of faculty — http://mfeldstein.com/e-literate-tv-preview-essex-county-college-changing-role-faculty/

NextThought team
About the Author NextThought team

Our mission... To constantly explore innovative ways to rethink education. We engage learners, build community, and deliver value. We will always go above and beyond standard learning solutions, providing perfectly-tailored educational experiences for our clients and their audiences.

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