Just thought I would quickly write my thoughts about IWMW13 as having been thinking about since coming back on Friday. And are two main points that I keep on returning on:

Stand alone online learning (MOOKs):
(Whats a mook? 56 seconds in)
It was great having such advocates on open learning and data looking at the subject. Talking to people through the conference it was obvious that a lot of time and effort has already been put into this field and I have changed my view somewhat with the input of others. I am obviously for learning to be expanded and am as excited as anyone about the potential of online to do this, however, my concern is the long term future modeling for these courses:

The one thing that still stands out, from a purely business view, is a workable pricing model for everyday UK institutions for stand alone online learning. Currently, the project is either seen as an experimental loss leader ( or more positively marketing tool for the institution which would later confirm itself in greater brand recognition) or the institutions are just making sure they are involved so that they don’t miss out on the next big thing.

My concern is the production and creation of these courses are still dependent on grants or the goodwill of academics and institutions. Although the larger university world brands can see these projects cost as incidental, this is not a viable long term strategy for everyday UK institutions. Over the past few years institutions have become more and more required to justify the spending of penny by viable outcomes, my fear is it will only be a matter of time before these activities are seen as superfluous for most UK institution, which would be a real shame. Leaving it those brands big enough to deal with such costs. Hence the revolution, like so many other online content strategies will fail by the lack of a proper costing model.

Education needs to learn the lessons of the past and have a proper joined up strategy to finance the MOOK dream. I still think an IP geographical pricing model could work. This cold, (billion?) dollar equation is what it will live or die on. what do you think?

Empowering is the key:

Although I agreed with the core of Paul Boag’s talk that Institutional change must occur from within. There were some points that I think were pushing it a bit:

Firstly, in my experience universities are not much different to any large company in that there is managerial structures that stops progress moving as quickly as should be possible. Indeed, there are several household commercial companies whose internal structure from experience are far worse than universities. To castigate universities as the only organizations where non-web people are making the ultimate decisions about the web is not right, it is a truism for all, apart from a start-up, that ultimate sign-off will be by others then the developers.

Secondly, I don’t think there wasn’t a web manager in the room who wasn’t aware of the structures they face day in day out and what they need to do to address it.An alternative argument to you simply saying “F you !” and do it anyway is that it could alienate online from the university. Ultimately, online must have the humility to understand that it is just a method of communicating the university core message to a wider audience and not the end itself for the university, therefore stakeholders need to be brought on board not antagonized at will? Push them when you need to, but, all out war?

Our experience of the sector over the last few years, in this brave new world of the education is groups such as PG and faculties have been more prepared to listen if a coherent case has been made than ever before. Or is that just our clients??

No, it is not perfect, but if you look at the changes in core pages for most universities over the last few years you can tell the change that has occurred. Slow? Yes. Hopeless? No.

And finally, to put my spin on Neil Denny’s “Art of not knowing” talk: Online has a lot of answers, but if it listens to the rest of what is being said elsewhere in the organization and understands its limitations, online teams at universities will make a better, more bespoke case for their own justification and position in the university.