The university monopoly and my barcelona talk
Rather late in the day, here is my Powerpoint file from the keynote at Barcelona. I’m putting the file up here as Slideshare struggles with the animation and some slide transitions. Incidentally the animation was created using Pivot – it took me an embarrassingly long time to create something so basic.
The talk went well, afterwards Stephen Downes asked a question about what would happen if universities lost their accreditation monopoly. I suggested the analogy of newspapers (mainly because I was reading Michael Frayn’s excellent Towards the End of Morning) and I said it would make higher education a less pleasant place to work in, since the margins become so narrow, but it would probably push innovation. Stephen argued, quite rightly, that while the change in culture for newspapers may have been bad for employees, it has been good for readers (the Guardian online being an excellent example). I didn’t answer this particularly well, mainly because it is a big issue with no simple answer.
Sometimes it does feel that because universities do the accreditation, and this is the recognised stamp in society, then there is no need to change For example teaching practices can carry on being the same old lecture because universities have the monopoly. If other bodies performed accreditation, then perhaps it would encourage greater innovation. But universities perform a greater role in society than just accreditation, and perhaps some of the subtler benefits would be swept away in a radical reform (or am I just thinking my life would become less comfortable?).
Anyway, here is the presentation, it contains bits from some previous ones, so probably no big surprises for those I’ve spoken to recently – Download barcelona_presentation2.ppt