Next Generation Learning Challenges

I’m sitting in my hotel room in Beijing, using the flat screen TV and a built in computer to simultaneously listen to the EDUCAUSE webcast mentioned below, read my email, and write this blog.  Meanwhile, my Blackberry, which I previously thought of as a marvel of technology innovation, and which for the past 6 or 8 years has received emails effortlessly during my travels in China, sits quietly in the corner, a pitifully less capable instrument now that I have found the magic of the computer on my TV screen.  As Dorothy said so long ago, we’re not in Kansas anymore (I don’t mean to disparage Kansas…but this is indeed a brave new world, and as I listen to this webcast, I think we haven’t seen anything yet. We are on the edge of some amazing changes in our knowledge of and understanding of teaching and learning; truly transformative innovations). I think we’re at a tipping point.

The Gates Foundation is committed to making that tipping process accelerate through the recently-announced Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC).  I think the NGLC program represents an enormous opportunity for the campuses in the Red Balloon Project.  At AASCU we’re looking carefully at the program to decide where we might find some support for our work.  The Next Generation Learning Challenges is starting by looking at four issues:  Open Core Courseware, Blended Learning, Web 2.0 Engagement, and Learning Analytics.

I urge you to go the the Next Generation Learning Challenges website and read about the initiative.  But even more importantly, I urge you to listen to a pre-recorded webcast, available on demand, from EDUCAUSE, the organization that is managing the Next Generation Learning Challenges project.

What is particularly interesting about this webcast is the presenter, Bror Saxberg (chief learning officer for Kaplan). For those of you who tend to think of the for-profit higher education world as largely composed of venture capitalists and flinty-eyed business people, Bror, a Rhodes Scholar, has a Ph.D in Computer Sciense from MIT…and an MD from Harvard Medical School.

One of the great advantages of places like Kaplan or the University of Phoenix, with their enormous enrollments (Phoenix has more than 450,000 students) is the ability to study learning at enormous scale.  That’s why, to be competitive, the Red Balloon is so important as a concept: linking large numbers of institutions and large numbers of students, to study large scale teaching strategies and learning outcomes.

Here’s a link to a webcast Bror did:


About George L Mehaffy

Vice President, Academic Leadership and Change at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).
This entry was posted in New Models for Curriculum, New Models for Enrollment Management, New Models for Faculty, New Models for Institutional Organization and Design, New Models for Instructional Design, Red Balloon General Thoughts. Bookmark the permalink.

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