Ideas while travelling on the way….

Setup for the Live Presentation:

This live session was done with Blackboard’s Collaborate (formerly Elluminate).  It seems like most of the earlier problems have been resolved.  There were some initial sound difficulties, but these were quickly ironed out.


Bates sees his current work dominated by two major issues:

1.   Can universities or colleges change from within, or do we need new institutions for 21st century learning?

2.   What would reformed or new universities/colleges look like?

Current practice uses technology to enhance, not transform learning.  In other words, most implementations do not try to do something different, rather ask “how can we do better what we are already doing?”  It is important to understand that Bates is primarily addressing institutions, not individual instructors.  Does the institution have a strategic and academic plan for the use of technology and at what level is that planning done?

Successful integration requires both an administrative plan on how to integrate technology, as well as the willingness of faculty to buy into this vision and actually use the proposed technology.  According to Bates’ research, the best planning starts at the program level.  However, this must not develop into a silo approach, with each program operating independently.  Best practices include a high-level technology committee with various sub-committees.  Clear mandates for these committees, as well as the constituent schools, learning technology centers and instructors are necessary.  The following chart is meant to show how the interaction between the various levels of the institution should work:

Model of Goverance

The diagram is not meant as an hierarchical approach, but more like a view from above

The last area addressed was financial.  Bates asserted that many institutions do not have clear idea of the difference in cost between an online and a traditional course.  Online course cost can be controlled through the use of different types of activities, making use of online educational resources and by downloading work to the students themselves.  In order to succeed, administration must include not only pre-service training for faculty, but continuing support.


In my Master program at Athabasca, there is no author who has more textbooks as required reading than Tony Bates.  Live presentations with individuals who wrote the textbooks you use are one of the outstanding benefits of a MOOC.

On the face of it, planning for innovation seems rather odd.  How can one make a plan to integrate tools that have not been developed?  But that is not what Bates proposes.  His assumption is that new tools will arise.  Once they have been developed, what is the best way to exploit their benefits for learning?  While it was not a focus of this presentation, his previous development of a SECTION analysis for evaluating new technologies.

The major take away point for me was the importance of an integrated plan which involves all members of the institutional community.  It is also vital that faculty have support before the development of new material which utilizes new technologies.  The old adage, “He who fails to plan, plans to fail.”


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