Ed-tech pioneer: Universities are more innovative than they get credit for

'It's a new world on most campuses'

The higher education sector is far from the stagnant stereotype that haunts it, industry expert George Siemens wrote in a blog post this month.

Siemens attended a recent White House brainstorming session focused on "innovation and quality in higher education," reports Jeffrey Young for the Chronicle of Higher Education. While many trends earned a critique in Siemens' blog, he focused on the belief that college has not evolved in the last century.

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"This is one of the most inaccurate pieces of @#%$ floating around in the 'disrupt and transform' learning crowd," he wrote. "Explore any campus today. It's a new world on most campuses, never mind the online, competency, and related systems."

"Universities are exceptional at innovating and changing," he wrote, using as an example the rise of predictive analytics to identify at-risk students.

In an interview with the Chronicle, Siemens acknowledged that universities tend to move more slowly—and be more cautious—than major corporations, but that they must.

"When a university takes a big pedagogical risk and fails, that's impacting someone's life," he said.

He argued that as the innovation conversation moves forward, the multiple roles played by colleges—such as broadening access to education—must be discussed as well.

The White House meeting signals significant changes are coming to higher education, he says, but that does not mean the sector has remained stagnant for the past 100 years (Young, "Wired Campus," Chronicle of Higher Education, 8/6).

Thoughts on the story? Tweet us at @eab_daily and let us know.

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