Research Question 4: Critical Challenges

What do you see as the key challenge(s) related to teaching, learning, or creative expression that learning-focused institutions will face during the next 5 years?

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As you review what others have written, please add your thoughts and comments as well.

Please "sign" each of your contributions by marking with the code of 4 tildes (~) in a row so that we can follow up with you if we need additional information or leads to examples- this produces a signature when the page is updated, like this: - ninmah ninmah Jan 27, 2010

Compose your entries like this:
  • Challenge Name. Add your ideas here, with few sentences of description including full URLs for references (e.g. And do not forget to sign your contribution with 4 ~ (tilde) characters!

  • The role of the academy — and the way we prepare students for their future lives — is changing. In a 2007 report, the American Association of Colleges and Universities recommended strongly that emerging technologies be employed by students in order for them to gain experience in "research, experimentation, problem-based learning, and other forms of creative work," particularly in their chosen fields of study. It is incumbent upon the academy to adapt teaching and learning practices to meet the needs of today's learners; to emphasize critical inquiry and mental flexibility, and provide students with necessary tools for those tasks; to connect learners to broad social issues through civic engagement; and to encourage them to apply their learning to solve large-scale complex problems. (Carried forward from the 2010 Horizon Report)
  • New scholarly forms of authoring, publishing, and researching continue to emerge but appropriate metrics for evaluating them increasingly and far too often lag behind. Citation-based metrics, to pick one example, are hard to apply to research based in social media. New forms of peer review and approval, such as reader ratings, inclusion in and mention by influential blogs, tagging, incoming links, and retweeting, are arising from the natural actions of the global community of educators, with increasingly relevant and interesting results. These forms of scholarly corroboration are not yet well understood by mainstream faculty and academic decision makers, creating a gap between what is possible and what is acceptable. (Carried forward from the 2010 Horizon Report)
  • Digital media literacy continues its rise in importance as a key skill in every discipline and profession. The challenge is due to the fact that despite the widespread agreement on its importance, training in digital literacy skills and techniques is rare in teacher education programs. In higher education, formal training is virtually non-existent. As faculty and instructors begin to realize that they are limiting their students by not helping them to develop and use digital media literacy skills across the curriculum, the lack of formal training is being offset through professional development or informal learning, but we are far from seeing digital media literacy as a norm. This challenge is exacerbated by the fact that digital literacy is less about tools and more about thinking, and thus skills and standards based on tools and platforms have proven to be somewhat ephemeral. (Carried forward from the 2010 Horizon Report)
  • Institutions increasingly focus more narrowly on key goals, as a result of shrinking budgets in the present economic climate. Across the board, institutions are looking for ways to control costs while still providing a high quality of service. Schools are challenged by the need to support a steady — or growing — number of students with fewer resources and staff than before. In this atmosphere, it is critical for information and media professionals to emphasize the importance of continuing research into emerging technologies as a means to achieve key institutional goals. As one example, knowing the facts about shifting server- and network-intensive infrastructure, such as email or media streaming, off campus in the current climate might present the opportunity to generate considerable annual savings. (Carried forward from the 2010 Horizon Report)
  • the challenge of getting and keeping organised: data explosion, the range of available tools, the range of available hardware... - I don´t think it´s just me who feels that it takes a lot to navigate your way, as new data, tools and apps are released on an hourly basis. It is certainly an amazing time we live in, but there being no end to new developments can also have a frustrating aspect. So, how to handle the challenge of keeping halfway up-to-date and making the right choices (at least for a while) of gadget and online-services/tools seems a big issue to me. While I am fascinated by the opportunities that are around, I am also in a way relieved that I graduated when I did, i.e. at a time when there was a point where I felt I had done my research and could sit down to write my paper. These days, I would always dread that there´s already some new blog out there discussing the idea I have just come up with. - helga helga Sep 30, 2010 The abundance of information challenges us to come up with effective tools and filters for finding and making sense of the information important to us. - lisaspiro lisaspiro Couldn't agree more that this is one of the huge challenges facing us, as is probably obvious from the various positings I made in reviewing the various topics we're discussing. - paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 17, 2010 Even this task - which is incredibly organized well by NMC, is overwhelming.. how do we expect our luddite faculty to be able to keep up or maneuver through all of this? - crista.copp crista.copp Oct 17, 2010 - KeeneH KeeneH Oct 17, 2010 One response is curation (eg, the Horizon Reports) - Larry Larry Oct 18, 2010 — trusted sources are one thing, but what are the dangers of censorship or bias here? - helga helga Sep 30, 2010 - KeeneH KeeneH Oct 17, 2010
  • The Apocalyptic Intellectual In the Age of Networked Society. In 1964, Umberto Eco published a seminal essay, titled "Apocalyptic and Integrated Intellectuals: Mass Communications and Theories of Mass Culture." In this essay, Eco identified two opposite yet complementary poles in the creation of analyses of popular culture, with attitudes roughly represented by the labels chosen to designate them. Fast-forward to 2010, and the situation is much the same, with today's Internet culture substituting for yesterday's mass culture - Nick Carr would certainly qualify as an "apocalyptic" intellectual, while Clay Shirky would likewise be his "integrated" counterpart. In and of itself, this is not a bad thing - an honest dialogue between the two poles should help advance understanding of the whole. However, a challenge arises inasmuch as the apocalyptic intellectuals are currently given the lion's share of attention in traditional academic outlets, regardless of quality of argument or supporting evidence. Worse, this attention has translated into action, ranging from individual faculty interdictions on the use of computer technologies, to ill-designed campus-wide initiatives. - rubenrp rubenrp Oct 3, 2010
  • Inculcating digital citizenship: As the tragic case of internet bullying at Rutgers illustrates, students need to learn what is responsible behavior online. How do we protect and respect privacy? How do we use the Internet to connect and empower people rather than to humiliate and exclude them? - lisaspiro lisaspiro I would expand this to include a lack of digital literacy (or "fluency" as Gardner prefers) more generally. Our students often have a very narrow exposure to technology, especially at the community college level. They are very good at one or two technologies (usually Facebook and texting) but have little or no exposure to anything else - including the vast power of social networks to operate in the way that John Seely Brown described in his keynote in Anaheim this summer. More elite students are better at this but the Rutgers example (as well as many others) indicate a large amount of naiveté there as well. Much of this comes from faculty and parents who are even more in the dark about the potentialities of the technology available to their children. They can grok texting and maybe even Facebook but conceptually going beyond that is hard for most older adults to do. There is also a significant digital divide between elite students and the more general school population. As it has been the case for centuries this is as much a cultural divide as it is a technical one and is only gradually fading. However, there is a risk that lower-end, most restrictive computing devices will continue to perpetuate this gulf as poorer students are left with devices that don't allow them to experience the full benefit of the information age. - tom.haymes tom.haymes Oct 5, 2010 Agree, technology has not managed to reduce the "hidden curriculum". - bdieu bdieu Oct 14, 2010- gardnercampbell gardnercampbell Oct 18, 2010This is a huge problem, especially when digital citizenship is thought of primarily as do's and don't's on the Internet. Until we find a way to bring the idea and practices of computing as a METAMEDIUM into the curriculum, we are going to be stuck--while the world will keep on spinnin' round (sorry to shout, but I feel very strongly about this one and would give it all my "votes" if we were there yet!). Students are the same around the globe. I often wondered if the use of Facebook and texting is just an attribute of young African students who are just exposed to technology. My young teenager does the same thing and I have complained and suggested more ways to use technology in his learning but to no avail.Hmmm! digital citizenship indeed - Olufemi.Olubodun Olufemi.Olubodun Oct 19, 2010
  • Privacy in cloud-based learning environments: With all the new, and increasingly used, web 2.0 learning environments, institutions are becoming concerned about privacy. We're seeing some policy development in this area:, and We're also seeing higher education institutions develop social media policies, much like private companies are doing. - drvdiaz drvdiaz Oct 18, 2010
  • The Gulf between Information Technology and Instructional Technology: This is an oldie but a goodie that stretches back to the very earliest days of computing with the fight between the time sharers and the batch computers. The natural instinct of many on the IT side of the house is to lock down access because it makes their lives easier and I can't blame them for that. This, however, creates many barriers to the use of all manner of systems that we are talking about here. Mobile devices, be they smart phones or tablets, can't access the wireless network reliably. Certain parts of the internet are blocked by filtering software that is usually automated and dumb. Pressure for centralized server farms raises the issue of control even further as suddenly every new initiative requires buy-in from those whose first instinct is to protect security rather than to encourage exploration and experimentation. The technology pendulum is swinging back from the Wild West of the early World Wide Web, which was both liberating and dangerous in certain ways, to the curated realities of virtual labs and the suburbia that is the iPhone/iPod/iPad world. Managing this pendulum swing back from freedom to order in ways that don't stifle innovation and change will be a significant challenge for the educational technology leadership. - tom.haymes tom.haymes Oct 5, 2010 - helga helga Oct 5, 2010 - lisaspiro lisaspiro- billshewbridge billshewbridge Oct 6, 2010 - bdieu bdieu Oct 14, 2010 - paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 17, 2010 - crista.copp crista.copp Oct 17, 2010 - KeeneH KeeneH Oct 17, 2010I am very sympathetic to these concerns but feel the category is too broad and cast in antiquated terms (sorry) that will not have much traction in the larger readership.- gardnercampbell gardnercampbell Oct 18, 2010
  • Changing Role of the CIO In addition to the gulf, mentioned above - the actual role of the CIO and leadership in IT needs to be addressed. We no longer simply need technologist who can manage to keep the lights on, we need leaders with vision and understanding of the complex nature of academics. - crista.copp crista.copp Oct 17, 2010This one is crucial, in my view, but not at all "sexy." Doesn't matter--it's still crucial. We need to move away from a management view of the CIO to something more like the President of Information/Communication Technologies, a strategic role.- gardnercampbell gardnercampbell Oct 18, 2010 I'd add to this--at the recent EDUCAUSE annual conference, I heard many participants discussing the significant reorganization that is taking place between the IT and academic affairs side of the house. It seems that organizations are beginning to address the way their leadership structures address what is happening between the two areas. Some discussion of new leadership models might be interesting and insightful. - drvdiaz drvdiaz Oct 18, 2010
  • The Usability Gulf: Web 2.0 has gone a long way toward creating user-friendly applications that remove a lot of the phobia surrounding the use of technology but are still a lot of systems at colleges and universities that fail to live up to this ideal. Those who manage these systems, and they range from LMS's to administrative computing systems, see them as increasing efficiency by reducing reliance on paper or growing enrollment but they fail to consider the impact that poorly-designed user interfaces have on the average user's vision of the possibilities of technology. This leads to resistance to explore even those technologies that are well-designed and true enablers of creative expression - both as teachers and as learners. As the information overload that Helga and Lisa mentioned grows ever more extreme those who are trapped in this technology limbo will become increasingly frustrated but, at the same time, may not resist the closing of doors by those who see dangers rather than opportunities in the culture of the Internet. - tom.haymes tom.haymes Oct 5, 2010 Danke, Helga. I missed that one, Tom (helga)) - helga helga Oct 5, 2010 Agreed - JamieMadden JamieMadden Oct 5, 2010 Good point! - Dougdar Dougdar Oct 5, 2010 - paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 17, 2010
  • Technological Ambivalence. Serving on a university-wide task force on on-line learning assembled by our Provost -- on the one hand I understand and embrace immersive involvement in new media and technology as far as my own innovative work and scholarship is concerned. On the other hand, every time I enter the "live" classroom - which I do quite often and by choice and preference - and look out over the sea of faces and begin( the day's conversation, I feel a twinge of regret at the thought of losing this essential contact. I suspect I am not alone among my colleagues of the "baby-boom" generation. - neil.baldwin neil.baldwin Oct 5, 2010 Would agree that there is tremendous ambivalence, and I suspect part of it is caused by those who artificially pose technology as an either-or option rather than a this-and-this option, as in the suggestion that online learning will replace classroom learning or that classroom learning always offers more engagement that online learning does as opposed to the idea that there is still plenty of room, in learning, for face-to-face as well as online delivery within the same course or set of courses. - paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 17, 2010 - KeeneH KeeneH Oct 17, 2010
  • Eighteen year olds have a different brain. I don't have a more elegant way to express this but I am sure others on the panel will be able to. There is an imperative for us as teachers to be familiar with the cognitive makeup of our incoming students, as the net-gen learners confront the "old-school" professors. I am driven to communicate, above all else...and on the other hand have to be careful not to sell out on the epistemological principles upon which I was raised. - neil.baldwin neil.baldwin Oct 5, 2010 Whether we refer to this as having a different brain or cast it in terms of what Daniel Pink wrote in "A Whole New Mind" and James Zull wrote in "The Art of Changing the Brain," the message is clear: students of all ages are, more and more, expecting learner-centric offerings, so those of us assisting those learners need to be familiar with ways of effectively reaching those learners regardless of what tools are being used. Ineffective use of tech tools is as counterproductive as any other ineffective teaching-training-learning technique would be, and we're the ones who can serve as advocates for improvement/positive change. - paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 17, 2010 - crista.copp crista.copp Oct 17, 2010 I would suggest that looking at Daniel Willingham's Why Don't Students Like School. It offers a cognitive neuroscientist's perspective on how people learn. He specifically addresses this point in an article "Have Technology and Multitasking Rewired How Students Learn." His points suggest that there are elements that suggest a difference in how all how use technology exhibit changes to their brains, and some, widely held beliefs that do not. It would also be worth looking at the Net Gen Skeptic blog- alanwolf alanwolf Oct 17, 2010 I will align more positively with Engestrom's activity theory - Olufemi.Olubodun Olufemi.Olubodun Oct 19, 2010
  • Competition to traditional models of the university: Recently Charles Reed, the chancellor of the California State University system, compared higher education to an overcrowded train and claimed that "[t]he train is headed directly at the modern university structure" ( As both the cost of and demand for higher education increase, students are looking to alternatives to traditional universities, including for-profit options and, on the horizon, open educational institutions such as University of the People. Like the music and newspaper industries, higher education will be disrupted by the Internet, which is providing access to online courses, course content, and learning communities. See also and - lisaspiro lisaspiro P2PU This appears to be inextricably interwoven with the thoughts in the previous item (Eighteen year olds have a different brain, so I would offer another all thumbs up on this one. - paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 17, 2010 - crista.copp crista.copp Oct 17, 2010 - alanwolf alanwolf Oct 17, 2010A HUGE challenge. While administrators debate whether or not to build "skiffs" that block out wireless connectivity, the very notions of credit hours, semesters, degrees, student life, etc. etc. are shifting, sometimes radically, beneath our feet. The Internet (and the World Wide Web, which is alive and kicking, pace "Wired" magazine) is the most disruptive force higher education has ever encountered, and higher ed still doesn't "get it." Talk about path dependencies and confirmation biases! All the things higher ed is supposed to help us guard against! Terrific ironies. Anyway, this category's importance cannot be overestimated, in my view, and may be the single most critical challenge higher ed faces today.- gardnercampbell gardnercampbell Oct 18, 2010
  • Copyright is a perennial challenge, limiting the ability to remix content, build open courses that draw from a wide range of resources, and develop digital scholarship that incorporates media created by others. - lisaspiro lisaspiro Copyright and licensing continues to be an issue in education and training. - JamieMadden JamieMadden Oct 5, 2010 Agreed. As online education becomes more and more of a primary part of the educational landscape, and with content of all kinds readily accessible from every corner of the digital sphere, the growing challenge will continue to be in the realm of intellectual property. While Creative Commons has provided excellent steps towards creating a channel of access and permissions between content creators and users, there is a continuing lack of real consideration on what is permissible and what is not. Open courses, which wonderfully portray knowledge as a common right for all, may also be undermining the rights of content producers to assert rights related to IP by latently communicating a sense that information on the internet is free. Managing Intellectual Property Issues in Higher Education - Dougdar Dougdar And as we learned at the recent Educause (Distance vs. Distributed Education: Bringing the Campus to the Student Neil Gershenfeld -Media Site Link) fabrication technology is coming along fast. The other significant IP method patents will rear it's ugly head as we have technologies that allows members of our institutions to make objects in ways far beyond simple 3D printing - alanwolf alanwolf Oct 17, 2010. I agree with you Dougdar but what is permissible will continue to be the main issue and I think will be difficult to resolve - Olufemi.Olubodun Olufemi.Olubodun Oct 19, 2010
  • Technical Developments and Social/Cultural Challenges
    Technological advances and global mobility have facilitated international exchange, extended the possibility of sharing and collaboration beyond national borders and changed the organization of the workplace. More and more people are exposed to international communities and networks and start interacting and partnering with others from differing cultural and social backgrounds. However, much of the talk, practice and decision-making processes today focus on tools, figures and statistics. Social and cultural preferences and traditions within a society play a key role in determining the way technologies evolve and how people interact through them (who participates, how they interact and how decisions are made).Challenges: global awareness, cultural/socia/technological capital, participation, local cultural and social contexts, language awareness, communication skills, negotiation, mediation, conflict management, community building and intercultural skills. - bdieu bdieu Oct 14, 2010 Yes! Technology provides the tools; the real focus is on the people and how they/we use those tools to achieve our goals--which is what has always attracted me to the Horizon reports. - paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 17, 2010
  • Revealing one's location is becoming an integral part of using many mobile apps. The challenge here is the tension between protecting privacy and accessing services: if I opt not to allow services to access my location from my mobile, I protect my privacy at the expense of being able to use mobile apps that I might find useful. On the other hand, if I elect to use the apps, I reveal to the world where I am (and where I'm not, like at home or at work at certain times of the day). See - ninmah ninmah Oct 14, 2010 It is uncomfortable and worrying. - bdieu bdieu There are a host of concerns with this issue and we have barely scratched the surface of the impact - crista.copp crista.copp Oct 17, 2010 Yet the opportunities here for self-organized informal peer-to-peer learning are enormous. Geolocation brings us much closer to the dream of the campus as a set of interwoven learning environments.- gardnercampbell gardnercampbell Oct 18, 2010
  • The Digital Dark Age. The current method we have for the members of our institutions to store, archive, and curate materials that are born digital is inadequate. At best, long-term presentation is attempted for only a small portion of the materials produced. Add in the fact that we may not have proper method to extract/play the materials preserved, and we may lose materials of scholarly, cultural, and historical importance. Also, don't forget the role of DRM and copyright in the issues of how we preserve our content in a form that can be viewed/used in the future. Fending off the digital dark age , - alanwolf alanwolf Oct 17, 2010.
  • Data Driven Decision Making (D3M). Under RQ2 I wrote quite a bit under the learning analytics section. This of course is directly related to D3M. I wont go back through the same dialogue here, but the basic problem is that institutions aren't just swimming in data, they are drowning in it. At the same time, the vast majority don't have any idea how to federate their data and when they do the output is either simple descriptive analysis or moderately insightful inferential modeling. Virtually no one is engaged in serious data mining and advanced analysis techniques. However, society is starting to demand that the academy become accountable and the need to more accurately measure learning effectiveness is becoming the battle cry of every politician who is looking for a 15 second sound bite. While other technologies promise to improve the quality of education and we are anxious to see them mature, D3M is a high priority with few good ideas around how to implement. - Oct 17, 2010
  • Responsibility to the community. There are well-established rules and rituals that create physical, cultural and economic boundaries between higher education and their surrounding communities. Technology, in many ways, creates an even deeper mote between the haves and have nots. Ironically, technology must be the catalyst for massive change. We see this beginning to occur in Cleveland where high speed internet is now connect 100 homes in a nearby community to Case Western Reserve University. Programs focusing on health, safety and education are being developed by multiple areas within the city to support the effort. ( Also - keynote from Lev Gonick 2010 NMC Symposium for the Future.) - wshapiro wshapiro Oct 18, 2010