Culture Magazine

Small Schools Punch Above Their Weight on Tech Innovation

By Bbenzon @bbenzon
From Howard Rheingold's profile of digital educator Bryan Alexander:
My experience with large institutions such as Stanford and smaller, less brand-famous institutions such as the University of Mary Washington, led me to the same conclusion as Alexander: “Some of these private, undergraduate-focused, smaller institutions punch above their weight when it comes to technology innovation. We worked closely with these schools and experimented with variety of tools and pedagogies — GIS mapping, social media on mobile devices, digital story-telling. We used technologies to talk about how to use technologies — video conferencing to help explain video conferencing. Social media. I built and ran a prediction market game for a few years. Since 2014, Alexander has struck out on his own as a “consulting futurist” for educators.
Social equity:
“First is the social equity benefit. If you go to a library in the developing world, you’ll find them usually packed with people but lacking a lot of materials. And, one reason is because they can’t afford to ship in a lot of books and journals. They can’t afford a lot of the developed world prices. Open education resources for those libraries are a godsend. You think about the same as a learner. You’re working in Ghana, you’re 15 or maybe you’re in North Africa and you would really like to make more of your life. You have access to the world through your phone but how much of American higher education is not available that way, even when it’s in digital form? How much do we bury behind pay walls or lock in the tombs of closed, proprietary systems? So for equity reasons, for just decency reasons, we have to open our trove for the world.”

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