Last month I was privileged to attend the New Media Consortium conference hosted by MIT. If you’re familiar with NMC, you’ve no doubt seen The Horizon Report on emerging technology that will impact higher education in the near future. This year’s conference offered tours of MIT, Harvard, and Boston College education spaces, tech sessions on topics ranging from the Google Map API to iTunes U, and poster sessions on lots of tools and services being developed by universities to address student and faculty needs.
The Harvard tour of their 3D image space was probably the most interesting new technology I saw during my visit. Technology staff from Harvard demonstrated a dual projector polarized 3D image of a blood cell, that could be viewed from all angles, as well as a rear projection 3d system where faculty could almost walk into the scene with no shadows on the projected image.
A tour of the MIT school of architecture showcased a learning space similar to our 3rd floor Central Classrooms computer lab, where student workstations could be set to display their own desktop, content sent from the instructor, or one individual’s work from within the lab. The space is used for collaborative learning with first year students. An interesting addition to the MIT setup was white boards around the classroom, with a video camera for each board, so student problemscould be shared or discussed if an error was seen throughout several student groups.
One of the most interesting and persuasive keynote addresses of the conference was made by Lord David Puttnam , chancellor of The Open University. Lord Puttnam spoke about overcoming the status quo in higher education, and the need for change. He compared this time in education to the history of warfare, where the introduction of a new technology, the machine gun, immediately relegated the technology of the horse mounted cavalry to a thing of the past. Lord Puttnam further suggested affection toward or clinging to ‘traditional teaching methods’, largely unchanged since the beginning of the last century, would act as a disservice to present and future bright youth who are being board to death in the 19th century classroom. The link to conference recordings on iTunes U is: http://itunes.apple.com/us/itunes-u/nmc-summer-conference-2012/id533497792
Other talks of interest included Jochi Ito, MIT media lab director and venture capitalist, who spoke about how startup people have to be generalists to accomplish their goals with no money, and how their results of are different those of a corporation. He seeks to bring that sort of industrious spirit to the MIT Media Lab.
Dr. Vijay Kumar, Vice Chair of the MIT Office of Educational Innovation and Technology, spoke about resource scarcity, and how digital initiatives like open courseware have transformed a scarce resource into educational resources that are abundant and available to almost anyone. He also spoke about how these massive courses have spawned their own learning communities to support learners, where a TA and faculty member would have offered support in the past.
The content and discussions with technology leaders from other universities and colleges were inspiring, if you have time I encourage you to look at a few of the talks on the NMC iTunes U channel and think about how you can take teaching and learning to a higher level at OSU.