Mark Brown

Mark Brown: A Story of Hype and Hope: Breaking Free from the Technology Bungy          5th July 2011

During a recent visit to the UK from Massey University, New Zealand, Mark kindly stopped off at City to share this talk about educational technology.  Mark’s career summary and list of achievement are overwhelming but match his enthusiastic, energetic personality and oodles of knowledge and ideas.  He is an academic, teacher, researcher, educational technologist, leader, strategist, project manager and is involved in a number of international projects.  Mark travels for 3-4 months of the year.

Massey University has three campuses and 18000 face-to-face students and 17000 distance students.  Mark came to steal our UK students and invite them to a degree involving lower debt and the NZ experience.  He also told us about educational technology jobs at Massey and I’m sure not one of us left without at least a short delightful moment imagining ourselves living and working over there.

Mark’s talk shared the Massey approach, a fellow Moodle institution, insight into the significant HE sector and global changes, and role of educational technology within that context.  Our awareness was raised of the rise of the involvement of private companies in HE and the techniques they are using.  Above all we need courage and vision.  We need to ask the question, what can university’s offer in 2011?

Massey has internal Moodle servers to take advantage of the high network speed and an externally hosted Moodle installation with the Moodle partner Catalyst.  This setup includes useful processes for development and testing.  All the educational technologies are delivered together through a system branded ‘Stream’.  The branding plan included fridge magnets and feeds into the ambition to be the ‘digital university for the future’.  The e-portfolio is delivered separately and although they use Mahara which could be integrated with Moodle it has a different access route to ensure that students feel that Stream is university owned and the e-portfolio is individually owned.  Other key tenets of this approach include the student workload calculator and a commitment to quality enhancement above quality assurance.  Peer review and online peer review is at the heart of this.  “Quality culture that engenders conversations around teaching and learning.”

Here are some of my favourite quotes and a model from the talk:

  • “E-learning is a digital lubricant for globalization”
  • “Most e-learning initiatives are based on great leaps of faith”
  • “5 years ago youtube didn’t exist”
  • “We can’t just keep asking our academics to do more.  It’s not sustainable”
  • “Learning is messy”
  • On E-Portfolio:  “Staff have got the wrong metaphors” and of Mahara “What’s the problem its trying to solve?”
  • On distributed leadership: “The light comes from the cracks and we need to expose the cracks not cover them up”
  • Kaplan University advert: “Its time university adapted to you rather than you adapting to university”

Here is Cuban’s Technology Expectation Cycle:

Technology Expectation Cycle by Cuban

Slides from Mark Brown’s talk: http://www.slideshare.net/mbrownz/a-story-of-hype-and-hope-breaking-free-of-the-technology-bungy

Mark Brown’s blog: http://tinyurl/solt-mbrown.com

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