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Open Strategies in Higher Education: Opportunities and Challenges

April 16, 2012

Last week (11-13 April), I attended the DEANZ 2012 (Distance Education Association New Zealand) conference  in Wellington, where I gave a presentation titled: “Open Strategies in Higher Education: Opportunities and Challenges”. I uploaded my slides to the DEANS conference presentation site, where the presentations are linked to the schedule. It is worth checking out the other presentations and papers. I’ll post more comments about this excellent conference and the sessions that I attended soon, but I thought I would upload my presentation here first.

We were asked to upload our slides to Slideshare, and then embed them into the DEANZ conference site, so you can see several DEANZ 2012 presentations in the Slideshare website, where you can also find related slide shows. Unfortunately, the slides (usually a PDF of the screens presented using PowerPoint or Keynote) contain the illustrations and the main points of the talk, but not what the speaker actually said while presenting. I decided to record my talk myself using an audio recorder app on my iPhone, which I simply held while I delivered my talk and advanced the slides. I then uploaded the audio file to Unitube (a digital repository at the University of Otago), and embedded it below (I can’t upload audio files directly to my free account). So, you can view (or download) the slides from this blog or the DEANZ conference site, and you can hear the audio here or on Unitube (where it can also be downloaded). By playing the audio file here, and advancing the embedded slides below on your own, you will have a pretty good seat without leaving this post. I’ve pasted  the urls on all of the Websites that are in this presentation, and by clicking the link, the website will open in a new tab. Comments on this presentation are welcome.

One correction: The originator of ds106 is Jim Groom. You can hear him talk about this very creative open course in a YouTube video recording of a talk he gave as part of cmc11 (another wonderful open course). Jim has a terrific blog, and he’s collected links to several of his presentations. If you want to hear a passionate presentation about why he has pushed the boundaries with ds106, watch the keynote that he presented at the Open Education 2011 Conference.

Another correction: The link on slide #33 takes you to the Coursera site instead of to the Connected Learning info graphic, which can be found here. Thanks to Brainysmurf (an open course colleague) for Connecting the Dots.

Audio recording of my DEANZ 2012 conference presentation (30 min. 45 sec.):



In business, social media, and other aspects of contemporary society, we can trace the shift in models of production, delivery, and consumption from Push (broadcast) to Pull (download) to Share (co-create). Similarly, we are beginning to see new models of provision emerging in higher education. As Curtis Bonk points out in The World is Open: How Technology is Revolutionizing Education, in theory, “[a]nyone can now learn anything from anyone at anytime” (2009). Martin Wellers is one of an increasing numbers of academics that are promoting the benefits of open, digital scholarship (2011). However, rather than transforming how courses are designed and delivered, most institutions of higher learning are using information technology in a limited way, to enhance traditional classroom teaching (Bates, A. W. T., Sangra, A. 2011). Although institutional structures and practices may be resistant to change, innovative individuals and institutions have developed “open” strategies that provide models for others to follow.

For several years, coordinators of OOCs (Open Online Courses) and MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) have made use of network technologies to leverage the wisdom of the crowd and to amplify the reach of tertiary courses for both credit and non-credit students (de Waard et al., 2011; Kop, Fornier, & Sui Fai Mak, 2011). More recently, Stanford Engineering Everywhere (SEE) and MIT’s MITx, have demonstrated how traditional, formal learning for a limited number of fee-paying students can support informal learning for a much larger number of off-campus participants for free. In this paper, I discuss recent research relating to open education and report on my experience as a non-credit participant in several open courses. I discuss recent initiatives by Stanford and MIT and reflect on the potential of Open strategies for traditional tertiary institutions.


– Bates, A. W. T., & Sangra, A. (2011). Managing Technology in Higher Education: Strategies for Transforming Teaching and Learning: Jossey-Bass.

– Bonk, C. J. (2009). The World is Open: How Technology is Revolutionizing Education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

– de Waard, I., Abajian, S., Gallagher, M. S., Hogue, R., Keskin, N., Koutropoulos, A.,(2011). Using mLearning and MOOCs to understand chaos, emergence, and complexity in education. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12(7), 94-115.

– Kop, R., Fournier, H., & Sui Fai Mak, J. (2011). A pedagogy of abundance or a pedagogy to support human beings? Participant support on massive open online courses. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12(7), 74-93.

– Weller, M. (2011). The Digital Scholar: Bloomsbury Academic.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. April 17, 2012 5:26 am

    Hey, Mark, thanks for sharing your presentation (which I flipped through visually, not with audio). Love the elephant imagery and the enquiry about shields on uni logos. Brilliant!

    I noticed the neat info graphic on slide 33 and clicked on the link, which took me to coursera. I think you meant this to be the link?

    Keep well and see you ’round the webosphere. 🙂

    • Mark McGuire permalink
      April 17, 2012 9:40 am

      Woops! Right you are. Good spotting! I’ll see if I can fix the link. I’ll have to ensure that I double-check all the links in future. Thanks, Brainysmurf.


  2. jhyao permalink
    June 19, 2012 12:25 pm

    Hello Mark, I’m the student doing Master of Enterprise Design in Polytechnic in Dunedin. My project is something related to building the community for fashion designers in Shanghai. Have read through your blog and it is very helpful indeed. And also, my supervisor Nick recommended you to me for a chat. I’ve sent an email to you for the detail. Would you please share some time for me for a chat? Thank you very much.


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