The last speaker for the day at CCA-EDUCAUSE Australasia 2011 in Sydney was Diana Oblinger, President of Educause, on "Next Generation Learning". She pointed out that the US and Austrlaian goals for increased participation in post secondary education will require courses to be provided for people had not expected to do them. To me that does not appear a new challenge. The vocational education sector has been running courses for people who are not the typical academic student. It also makes use of teachers who are not traditional academics. I suggest that universities need to learn how the TAFEs do this education.
In many ways online collective education is just a new version of an old idea. Educational institutions will have to unlearn some of the business ideas which have become popular, where Vice Chancellors were encouraged to think of themselves as CEOs of for-profit businesses.
Diana mentioned Purdue University’s Signals system. This detects student behavoiur online which indicates they are having problems and suggests help. This has shown to be effective. I do a little of this with my online postgraduate students. As an example if the student doesn't post to the forums for a week, then I ask them if everyone is okay.
Diana claimed that blended learning was liked by students and staff. My experience is that students like it but most staff find it threatening: their sense of identity is based on "lecturing" and feel a failure when students do not turn up.