Instead, I want to draw some attention to some of Hafner's points that ring more loudly and true for me as a community college instructor. Hafner writes,
But just 9 percent of those who use M.I.T. OpenCourseWare are educators. Forty-two percent are students enrolled at other institutions, while another 43 percent are independent learners like Mr. Gates. Yale, which began putting free courses online just four years ago, is seeing similar proportions: 25 percent are students, a majority of them enrolled at Yale or prospective students; just 6 percent are educators; and 69 percent are independent learners.Think about those numbers: 43% of MIT OpenCourseWare users are independent learners - people not necessarily associated with an institution of higher education, people who . . . just . . . want . . . to . . . learn! IN certain circles, I have been accused of being a pie-eyed optimist, but I'll admit that I find this number incredibly heartening. The other big number - 42% of MIT OpenCourseWare users are students at other higher ed. institutions - strikes me as remarkable as well. These users want to learn as well, but they are using the resource to enrich the learning that they are experiencing elsewhere (one with a grade attached to it). These could be the students that I teach (if I do my job well). Hafner describes some of the work being done with the Carnegie Mellon's Open Learning Initiative,where the learning is shaped for"'someone with limited prior knowledge in a college subject and with little or no experience in successfully directing his or her own learning,'" These resources are exactly the kind that can benefit many of the students whom I teach.
The title of this posting comes from a David Wiley quote within Hafner's article. I invoke it here because it captures what I have been thinking about for some time now, which is the morphing of higher education. There is a part of me that embraces this change, the part that applauds collaborative learning and a different kind of economics for learning. There's another part of me that wonders how I'll keep up with the changes, how the morphing of higher education will morph me.
I encourage you to check out Richardson's blog (bookmark it, RSS it, make it your home page) and read Hafner's article.