A crisis for institutions, opportunities for teachers

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Based on the blog post of the same name, this presentation is for the Course Convener's Meeting at the University of Canberra, 6 December 2010.

A crisis?[edit]






An opportunity?[edit]


I've been trying to think inside out from the institution for 4 or 5 years now. How might those who presently work inside the institutions, work in such a way that makes ready, or feeds opportunities that are developing outside the institutions? I reckon HE teachers ought to beat the policy makers and bosses at their own game, and start setting up for independent, contract work. This means taking full ownership of the units you teach, and start running then independently from the institution, contracted back into the institutions, while they remain.


  1. Start with your unit outline.
  2. Copy it to Wikiversity and chuck out all that guff, make it fun, engaging, and readable. Link to the guffy version if legal requires it. If your Institution has draconian IP policy, work to change it, or change the unit outline enough to qualify as original work.
  3. Start networking online around the subjects of your units, update the wiki as new resources and ideas come your way.
  4. Refine your Wikiversity entry and start editing all related Wikipedia articles so that links are prevalent from there to your Wikiversity course.
  5. Set up a blog/website for your units, or create a page on your existing blog/website for the units you are developing to teach and assess.
  6. Ditch the learning management system and any other platform the institution prescribes (such as email or lecture recording facilities), get it all out in the open, on commonly available and tried and true services, establish your own online identity, use the links, RSS and embed codes to quickly populate an institution's LMS if you must.
  7. Set up a Google docs spreadsheet with all the data the institution needs for auditing, such as attendance, contact details, demographics, participation and completion rates, feedback, etc.
  8. Work out how much it costs your target universities to run the unit, then work out how you can teach and assess that unit for less.
  9. Find other teachers going independent, try to build a network who together might be able to offer units for the better half of a degree, using this approach.
  10. Offer all the universities in the world your service, outlining the cost benefit analysis you've done for them (like Google Docs did). All you need from them is assurance they will give your graduates the rubber stamp on your assessed and moderated say so.
  11. Negotiate a 3-4 year contract with each university, to make sure you have time to refine and develop, and so that degree hunting students have consistency in you.
  12. Run your unit open access, inviting non enrolled students to participate, offering them post study assessment (Recognition of Prior Learning) should they ever be wealthy enough to pay for the paper.
  13. Author a textbook for the unit on Wikibooks, and desktop publish it to Lulu.com, charge a small royalty for the printed version.
  14. Create quirky merchandise for your unit, again charging small royalties.
  15. Set up a donation widget on your unit website to take donations from anyone who shows their love.
  16. Make sure your running costs include time for research and development. I reckon 5-10 hours for every hour of teaching and assessment as a rough guide.
  17. Get smart with your work, think about ways to use community projects like Wikipedia's Featured Article initiative and other ideas, or consider pay it forward assignments, to help with assessment and other workload challenges.


None of this necessarily preserves the work of teaching subjects that are in low demand unfortunately. In this regard, I would look to associations and other outside bodies to subsidise the running costs of your units with sponsorship. Whack a heritage order on ancient Greek studies etc. Try to find sustainable online markets for your niche service.


Examples[edit]



See also[edit]

If this idea is too brief for you, you can look back at my previous posts outlining this idea.