Over the weekend, I noticed an advert in the Guardian Review for a course on creative writing operated by the Guardian but accredited by the UEA: UEA-Guardian Masterclasses. A little dig around and I see the Guardian are actually offering a whole host masterclasses in a variety of subjects: Guardian Masterclasses. They are also offering their first(? more to come) masterclass with General Assembly (“a campus for technology, design, and entrepreneurship based in New York City”) on Understanding the Digital Economy; of note here is the additional comment that “General Assembly will be opening a campus in London at the end of 2012.” Campus; not hackspace or officespace, or workspace (though that may well be what it actually is): but campus.
[Update: via @jukesie, I’m also reminded of the Guardian’s teacher resources site, learnthings/learn.co.uk; for completeness, maybe also worth mentioning other innovations the Guardian is up to publishing-wise, eg wrt eboks: second half of A Tinkerer’s Toolbox….]
Alongside this, we have Condé Nast announcing a College of Fashion and Design to start from 2013 (as described in If Courses are About Content, We Have Competition…) and accredited by, erm, Vogue.
Educators in the area of IT will be well aware of the preponderance of vendor certification, where (arguably justifiably) vendors create a training curriculum that covers the key principles relating to one or more of their products. Institutions renowned for their training in certain areas have also been know to make their content available, as for example via the BBC College of Journalism.
In the OU, we’ve had a couple of rapidly produced courses* that wrap a pre-existing vendor qualification with an academic wrapper and academic assessment, and then provide the student an opportunity to earn both a vendor certificate and formal academic credit using the same vehicle. (See also: Towards Vendor Certification on the Open Web? Google Training Resources and Due Out Soon – The Google “Qualified Developer Program”.)
*For example, CCNA/Cisco Networking; T155 Linux: An Introduction provides a route to CompTIA accreditation, and T189 Digital Photography is “recognised by The Royal Photographic Society (RPS) as suitable preparatory work and a foundation for a Licentiateship Distinction (LRPS) in still photography”. And if you want badges, then try iSpot…;-)
The OU has also, in the past, produced short courses around broadcast television programmes co-produced with the BBC: S180 Life in the Oceans around Blue Planet, for example; (was S198 Exploring Mars tied to a TV series?; or A178 Perspectives on Leonardo da Vinci?). I’m not sure about the extent to which the OU is allowed to make use of BBC archive footage (could someone let me have a peek of the Sixth Agreement? Discretion assured/NDA signed if required; or is it FOIable?!;-) but I keep on wondering about how we might be able to make more of co-pro’d content, especially content that had courses developed around it (and which may or may not already be on OpenLearn?) (NB it’s worth noting that OU strategy appears at the moment to be focussed on competing for full time, younger students with other HEI entrants into the distance learning market, and moving away from shorter “leisure learning” courses which is a market that the media appear to be encroaching on. I can’t help wondering what might have happened if the OU had hooked up with the Guardian two or three years ago…[Disclaimer: this post barely represents my own beliefs, let alone those of my employer… etc etc…])
And finally, in Learning around F1…?!;-), I commented on how private equity owned learndirect are sponsoring a Formula One motor racing team; and so it goes…
Something is happening; but even if we can’t figure out what, at the very least we need to identify where higher education is placed in it all and what value it adds and what unique service(s) it offers… (See also: So What Do Universities Sell?, incl. comments.)
PS I think I need to read the Innovator’s Dilemma, and consequent books, again; wasn’t one of the claims that new entrants could pick some of the long hanging fruit (short courses, leisure learning, partnered accreditation and accreditation scheme/trust development) and then slowly build up capacity to take on the incumbents (longer form courses; credit + experience equivalents)?
PPS In passing, I notice that the Economist offers a suite of courses: Economist Education: Courses. The FT suggests ways of Enhanc[ing] your curriculum with the Financial Times) as well as branding a series of Pearson published textbooks (FT Publishing). Publishers such as O’Reilly are big in the conference organisation area (O’Reilly Conferences), and the Guardian (again) has also made in-roads into this area of content and buzz generation through things like the Activate Summit or the (CPD Certified) Higher Education Summit (note to self: does anyone else use the word summit for this sort of offering?)