Things we’ve been reading about

This week the TEL Team have been reading about:

Newcastle University’s newly launched mobile app, designed and built by a student at the University for all students but particularly to support the transition to HE. At this time of year supporting student transitions is top of every institution’s agenda, and I found this an interesting insight into how mobile can be effectively used to support students. (Jilly)

Preview version of  TechWatch Report on eBooks in Education is available for comments until 8th October. (Roger)

Education’s Digital Future – a class being run by Stanford looks like an interesting initiative. Not an online class, but much of the information is being posted online. (Suzi)

Two interesting (and complementary) perspectives on Higher Education, gained from participation in MOOCs – Jonathan Rees blogs about how the failings of online course discussion boards which are not structured or mediated by an instructor; and Kate Bowles questions the highly structured way in which learning material is delivered. As both these posts suggest, these observations apply to Higher Education delivered within institutions as well as through fully online channels: for example we already know that students do not use online discussion boards or blogs unless these are appropriately structured  and their relevance to the subject is clear. In view of the University of Bristol’s commitment to supporting active, collaborative and participatory learning, and learning environments which can be personalised, I feel that these are issues of great importance. (Jilly)

Here is a very interesting radio discussion on the future of the university, with particular reference to the impact of the Internet and online learning. Professor Mark Taylor of Columbia University makes some particularly interesting points about what it means in a higher education context to move from an era of mass production to something new that benefits from the modern potential for “mass customisation.” (starts at 35:18) Well worth a listen. (Doug)

Topics that encourage interdisciplinary collaboration within and between institutions, often facilitated by technology, are those which are relatively new: the Sustainability Exchange, of which JISC is a partner, and the University’s Sustainable Development open unit are both clear examples of this. What will it take to extend these practices to other, more ‘traditional’ disciplines? (Jilly)