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September 17, 2010

Key trends in education? - a crowdsource request

I've been asked to give a talk at FAM10 (an event "to discuss federated identity and access management within the UK") replacing someone who has had to drop out, hence the rather late notice. I therefore wasn't first choice, nor would I expect to be, but having been asked I feel reluctant to simply say no and my previous posts here tend to indicate that I do have views on the subject of federated access management, particularly as it is being implemented in the UK. On the down side, there's a strong possibility that what I have to say will ruffle feathers with some combination of people in my own company (Eduserv), people at the JISC and people in the audience (probably all of them) so I need to be a bit careful. Still, that's never stopped me before :-)

I can't really talk about the technology - at least, not at a level that would be interesting for what is likely to be a highly technical FAM10 crowd. What I want to try and do instead is to take a look at current and emerging trends (technical, political and social), both in education in the UK and more broadly, and try to think about what those trends tell us about the future for federated access management.

To that end, I need your help!

Clearly, I have my own views on what the important trends might be but I don't work in academia and therefore I'm not confident that my views are sufficiently based in reality. I'd therefore like to try and crowdsource some suggestions for what you (I'm speaking primarily to people who work inside the education sector here - though I'm happy to hear from others as well) think are the key trends. I'm interested in both teaching/learning and research/scholarly communication and trends can be as broad or as narrow, as technological or as non-technological, as specific to education or as general as you like.

To keep things focused, how about I ask people to list their top 5 trends (though fewer is fine if you are struggling). I probably need more than one-word answers (sorry) so, for example, rather than just saying 'mobile', 'student expectations', 'open data' or 'funding pressure', indicate what you think those things might mean for education (particularly on higher education) in the UK. I'd love to hear from people outside the UK as well as those who work here. Don't worry about the impact on 'access management' - that's my job... just think about what you think the current trends affecting higher and further education are.

Any takers? Email me at andy.powell@eduserv.org.uk or comment below.

And finally... to anyone who just thinks that I'm asking them to do my work for me - well, yes, I am :-) On the plus side, I'll collate the answers (in some form) into the resulting presentation (on Slideshare) so you will get something back.



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A couple of possibles that relate to scenarios may be confused about why they can't do particular things:

- if i click through a libezproxy link in my vle (authenticated to university system) to full text journal article subscribed to by the library on a third party commercial site, i see the article. If i just go to that site, I can't necessarily "just log in" with my university credentials and see the content a) that's licensed to the university, and b) i am allowed to see based on local HE access policy.

- several HEIs are starting to use google apps for edu, and similar. So can i just go to google and log into gmail with my OU credentials?

- general case - anything where eg the library has a subscription to something and i need to use credentials other than my everyday OU ones to access them


I think a key issue is the creation, curation, discovery use and repurposing of open educational resources, the huge issues with and approaches to IPR and the cultural challenges of embedding Open Educational Resources( OER) in professional practice . System of "recognition" of OER , in QAA audits, citation I could go on ...

The disaggregation of accreditation from the place of learning - people studying in one (or more places) but getting an award from places which they have never been to.

Coupled with Paul's point on OER and a possible parallel growth in APEL, you're looking at a perfect storm.

Seeing as though I'm the meany that made you talk ;-)

- Moving away from the traditional three year model and being taught at multiple institutions. What does this do to our concept of affiliation and institutionally managed identity? Whatever happened to the Bologna Process and is it relevant to mobility within the UK?

- How does the open agenda impact on identity? Are people actually any different to a resource in terms of linked data / open data?

- How can we be more intelligent about the opportunities that can be gained from better understanding user activity? (e.g. the recent jisc workshop on user data).

- Are institutions changing their attitudes about providing identity services to students (trend towards google mail etc.)?

Ok Andy, you asked for the fundamentals. Top 5 trends at my UK HE?

1. Redundancies due to funding cuts
2. Outsourcing
3. Internationalisation ie getting in more students who pay higher fees
4. Attempts to make the University more like a 'Business' - this usually equates to stuff the commercial sector actually stopped doing 20+ years ago
5. More 'migratory' students with multiple identities

Good luck with the presentation!

thanks. That's exactly the kind of list I'm after.

I assume that your 'migratory' students and Nicole's 'being taught at multiple institutions' are the same thing?

I'm also intrigued by the 'stuff that the commercial sector actually stopped doing 20+ years ago' :-)

The expression "the new normal" is being used to describe the trend towards outsourcing basic (or at least what used to pass as basic) IT services from university IT staff to global content providers (google). That trend has consequences for the monolithic LMS (eg sakai or moodle) and hence for the development of IT-assisted learning.

The googles and the yahoos provide us with interfaces for getting our content into their frameworks (eg things like opensocial) but those things require skills that only very few IT organizations (the very same organizations that are getting dismantled in favour of moving to google) possess and is able to retain.

So we're with Google Apps, and I'm conscious that this is potentially about much more than email, calendar, docs and sites. From a FAM point of view, it's interesting to consider that my users' Google accounts are all automatically OpenIDs.

Unfortunately what Google haven't cracked yet (and there may be a message in this for the rest of us) is how to deal smoothly with the fact that you may have more than one account. As a staff member, part time student and member of the public (with my personal Google account) this means I am often being prompted as to which account I want to use for a given service.

What I think I need is a "Internet identity" that's truly independent of the email addresses and other services that may from time to time be associated with it, and a relatively painless way of linking things like both Google and institutional accounts to it.

In terms of lifelong learning, ePortfolios etc, I'll note that we were unable to resource any sort of alumni service other than mail forwarding until Google and Microsoft got interested in the EDU space. This doesn't bode well for ePortfolios hosted onsite by institutions!

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