Flexibytes: Flexible learning news, trends, and resources.
Welcome to Flexibytes e-newsletter featuring flexible learning news, trends, and resources at UBC and beyond.

In this issue:

1. Flexible learning trends

2. MOOCs

3. Research

4. Reports

Flexible learning trends

Teaching in a digital age: Guidelines for designing teaching and learning for a digital age

Tony Bates’s new, open textbook on teaching and learning in a digital age focuses on teachers and faculty who are experiencing changes within educational contexts due to the pervasive use of technologies. The book is divided into 12 chapters that cover the following topics: Fundamental Change in Education, Epistemology and Teaching Methods, Media and Technology, Modes of Delivery and Open Education, Ensuring Quality in Teaching in a Digital Age, and Institutional Support.

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Collaboration and innovative knowledge-practice networks

In two related postings for Inside Higher Ed’s Beta Blog, Thomas Carey discusses the potential value of developing professional collaboration and knowledge practice networks to support resources and knowledge base development for a course. Such course related collaborations can engage faculty in knowledge-intensive activities that increase the potential sense of emotional ownership over educational innovations within their community, and can provide students with models of a learning culture that promotes professionalism, reflective inquiry and continuing improvement. Carey provides examples of knowledge-based and teaching practice networks in both posts.

Collaboration, not commoditization: Read more

Innovative knowledge-practice networks: Read more

John Hennessy: Information technology and the future of teaching and learning

John Hennessy, president of Stanford University, recently delivered the Robert H. Atwell Lecture at the annual meeting of the American Council of Education in March. In his talk, Hennessy argued that higher education, while it has immense current value, can improve. He predicts better hybrid learning environments and customized learning opportunities, particularly for continuing professional education. Hennessy also argued that high value credentialed education will persist.

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View the video

Opinion: Can universities survive the technology transformation?

UBC Vice Provost and Economics Professor Anji Redish recently wrote an op-ed for the Vancouver Sun. In it, she discusses how universities are adapting to rapidly changing technology and points to three responses that are beginning to emerge: investing in technology to enhance the classroom experience and restructuring programs to meet student needs for increased personalization, partnering with peer institutions to strengthen the student experience, and expanding programs for lifelong learners and pre-university students.

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Promising full college credit, Arizona State University offers online freshman program

Arizona State University and edX recently teamed up to offer a first-year program for full credit. The program, called the Global Freshman Academy, will have no admissions process and will be available to anyone through the edX platform as MOOCs. While each credit will cost US$200, students won’t have to pay until they pass a course.

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HarvardX and MITx release comprehensive data and analysis of two years of MOOCs

Building on earlier reports from 2014, HarvardX and MITx have released an analysis of 68 courses offered through the edX platform over the past two years, describing the backgrounds and behaviours of over 1.7 million participants. Their findings are an interesting mix of familiar and surprising. In the former category, few who have read other such reports will be surprised to find that the general trend in MOOC registrants seems to be towards older, more educated and more U.S.-based. Or that average enrolments in Computer Science (CS) courses dominate other disciplines. However, in the surprising category are findings such as many participants are current or past teachers, including those in the topic area of the MOOC course, and that certification rates in CS and STEM courses tend to be around half those in other disciplinary areas. The report contains a wealth of detail, novel analysis and insight and will become widely cited within the MOOC literature.

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The use of flipped classrooms in higher education: A scoping review

O’Flaherty and Phillips review research literature relating to the use of flipped or inverted classroom approaches in higher education to identify the emergence of flipped classroom approaches as well as links to pedagogy and educational outcomes. They employ a “scoping review” approach to provide a comprehensive overview of the research literature and also to identify potential gaps in the literature that should be addressed with future research directions.

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2015 Horizon Report

The Horizon Report, published each year by the New Media Consortium and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, tracks the potential impact of emerging technology trends and uptake in higher education with a five-year view. The 2015 report identifies the following six key trends that are accelerating technology adoption in higher education: advancing cultures of change and innovation, increasing cross-institution collaboration, growing focus on measuring learning, proliferation of open educational resources, increasing use of blended learning, and redesigning learning spaces.

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