A Gust of Wind Blows Across HE…

From various sources (@kavubob, @mweller via @peter_scott, @downes and others), I notice:

A couple more riffs on the above:

  • Pearson are playing multiple sides, offering testing for both the upstarts (eg Udacity) and the incumbents’ response (edX). They also have a major stake in school (i.e. K12) and further education content (textbooks, curricula) and assessment (e.g. EdExcel is a Pearson company), and they seem to be testing the waters with their own HE offerings in the form of Pearson College. Start to twitch a bit more if they start offering campus management solutions. Also look out for them bulking up their learning analytics offerings
  • Although the OU has started offering academic wrappers around imported vendor certificates, I don’t think an equivalent course wrapper yet serves as a way of wrapping informal and semi-formal online courses, such as offerings from P2PU, Coursera, Udacity etc etc. There is at least one “officially” offered MOOC on “Learning Design”, though… (One of the models I wanted to explore with the T151 Game Design and Development 10 point short course in its final presentation was a fully open presentation with an additional for credit component based around the submission of a portfolio for credit bearing assessment. The legacy would have been a 10 point wrapper for importing informal online course activity, “proven” using an OU presented course. Maybe there’ll be a similar sort of finesse around the Learning Design MOOC? I’d certainly hope so…
  • I note that the OU runs exams at a wide variety of examination centres (often in local colleges), so to an extent the OU already models the behaviour being adopted by edX. There are, however, a couple of notable differences: a) the OU, rather than a commercial operation such as Pearson, manages exams at local centres; b) the OU offers tutor and/or moderated forum based support to students on OU courses. Providing tutor/associate lecturer support (including face to face tutorials at local centres) to students on a 1:320 ratio or so is expensive though… I’m not sure how the costs associated with providing online moderation at a ratio of 1:100 or so scale up with increasing course sizes (eg when you factor in recruitment and briefing/training costs, as well as the costs of assessment/marking related moderation exercises etc).
  • I should probably say something about badges here, but don’t have the will to!

See also: Checking HE for Cracks.

PS re: the outsourcing of campus facilities management, I thought I’d better check… and came across this (Sussex Uni tenders for campus services) from May, 2012 (contract notice):

The University of Sussex is seeking bids to manage its estates and facilities services, which are run in-house at an annual cost of £20 million.

The move, to be completed by August next year, “is expected to bring wider market experience and expertise to the university to enable it to meet the increasing demands of a highly competitive environment”, according to a statement.

The story is still running… Unions left ‘in the dark’ over outsource plans. Companies in the ballpark – Carillion, maybe? eg they appear to have been contractors for construction works at UWE, Hertfordshire.

PPS Facilities talk reminds me of this, which relates in part to management of facilities data: Facilities and Equipment Sharing Network.

PPPS via @brlamb, Pearson ‘Education’ — Who Are These People?, which looks at some of the lobbying going around around US teacher performance assessment.


  1. Martin Hamilton (@martin_hamilton)

    Re the Equipment Sharing Network (UNIQUIP) link at the end, some more info for a bit of context. It’s not exactly London Met territory…


    You’ll see this is particularly aimed at boutique items of specialist kit. If the guy down the road has an fMRI machine, and I only need to use one occasionally, perhaps we could do a deal? (or bang heads together if you’re the funding council – no you can’t have the money for one of your own, work something out! :-)

    If we do it right (and @cgutteridge is on board, so I’m sure we will), then there should be some very interesting mashup opportunities.

    It also makes a lot of sense for folk to collaborate in areas where skills are in demand but hard to come by, HPC (supercomputing) being a prime example.

  2. Pingback: Fragment: Pondering Mapping the Pearson Network « OUseful.Info, the blog…
  3. mgozaydin

    MIT will lose its reputation due to making a collaboration with a commercial company pearson.
    MIT has technology 100 times better than Pearson .
    What is the reason to collaborate with pearson ?

  4. mgozaydin

    As an employer, I will not hire anybody who has taken his exams from pearson .
    I cannot trust a commercial company providing grades . They canb give away good grades very easily nobody knows. At the end they will make money .