Visited this observatory?

It’s been nearly a decade since I mentioned the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education (OBHE), which I’ve only just added to my list of links. It’s a UK-based ‘think tank’ which aims to “provide strategic intelligence for education leaders and policymakers attempting to navigate the opportunities and threats of borderless higher education.” That rather less-than-stimulating stated purpose belies its value, as it provides range of resources with the potential to help a range of individuals and organisations involved in ODL. The only drawback to its universal usefulness is that it requires subscription to access the bulk of its resources – not a problem if you belong to one of its 160 or so institutional subscribers, of course.

The OBHE recently came to mind when I was chasing down a publication. Back in 2003, while working at the Open University of Hong Kong, I was approached to write a commissioned report for them addressing the issue of online learning in Asia. My colleagues (Wei-yuan Zhang and Kirk Perris) and I had an associated project we’d been working on, so the three of us prepared the report and reaped the reward of a relatively handsome fee (well, being paid anything for a research report is a handsome amount!).

Unfortunately I couldn’t find the report in my old files, so went to the OBHE website to try my luck. Some of its archived material is freely available, and it was a pleasant surprise when I was able to download it without payment (the cost of an individual report can be prohibitive) via this link.

As clearly implied by the title (Online Learning in Asian Open Universities: Resisting ‘Content Imperialism?), the report investigated 12 universities in nine Asian countries, partly to ascertain whether they were suffering from content imperialism, courtesy of their western counterparts.

Based on the data we collected, we concluded that:

Overall, the impression gleaned from research results such as those given here is that Asian countries and institutions are not sitting idly by watching western e- learning institutions and corporations invade their turf, but are actively and successfully engaging with online learning on their own terms. They are experiencing many of the same difficulties as their western counterparts, and in some cases have learned from their experiences and thus been able to move very rapidly by ‘leapfrogging’ into advanced use of information and communication technologies. The fears of some commentators concerning the negative impact in Asia of western ‘global’ e-learning providers appear to be thus far unfounded, as Asia is clearly not ‘easy pickings’. The prospect of ‘content imperialism’ (Farrell, 2001) is thankfully diminishing, as Asian providers have responded rapidly to the challenge of ensuring rapid growth in higher education in this and coming decades.

So, given my success at accessing this report, search the site and see what you can find and download. And it’s not just reports: you’ll find other publications, as well as current news worldwide in higher education and alerts to conferences and events (including their own).


Getting started with learning analytics

I suspect that most of us tip-toe around the edge of learning analytics: we are aware of its existence, have a cursory understanding of what it is and does, but maintain a distance as we are a little suspicious of it. Well, if you feel that it’s time to jump right in and develop an in-depth understanding of learning analytics, then here’s the best way to get started. Continue reading

A flying visit to the School of the Air

The history of distance and open learning in Australia is replete with institutions that have led the way, raising standards and providing impetus for fellow educators. Examples include the University of New England (especially in the 1950s to the 1970s), Deakin University (the 1970s and 1980s), the University of Southern Queensland, Monash University and others. Throughout the decades since the 1950s there has, however, one constant contributor that has built a world-wide reputation for its endeavours: the School of the Air. Continue reading

Colin’s still going strong!

The first guest post I accepted on this site (nearly a decade ago!) was from Colin Latchem, a friend and colleague I’ve known for longer than either of us care to remember. So it was a pleasant surprise to see his name pop up in a Facebook posting as Editor of a new publication from the Commonwealth of Learning and UNESCO, Using ICTs and Blended Learning in Transforming TVET. Continue reading

A well-informed look at Open Education history

To make sense of our field, every now and then we need to step back and take an historical glimpse at how we’re going. If you don’t already do it, then when you scan the journal contents pages for historical contributions and meta analyses. In terms of the recent history of open education and the emergence of MOOCs, you won’t find a better summary than that by the inimitable Stephen Downes. Continue reading