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Distance Learning: Internet Opened

FutureLearn founder and head of the Open University says disruptive innovation is forcing education to reconsider its foundations.

Thu Nov 6 2014

BusinessBecause
The vice chancellor of the Open University and founder of FutureLearn, the massive open online course, or Mooc, platform, said that the internet has opened “Pandora’s box” on education, as the learning technology revolution begins to take hold of the business education world.

Speaking at the Sir John Cass’ Foundation Lecture, an annual event held at London’s Cass Business School, the distance learning pioneer said that the education sector cannot keep on doing things the same way and still be recognised as valuable.

“Disruptive innovation is forcing so many of us to reconsider the very foundations of our learning and teachings,” said Martin, speaking to a crowd of education heads from across the UK.

“There isn’t a higher education institution in the world that shouldn’t be thinking about the role of technology and innovation…. This is something that’s going to be a massive shift,” he said.

His comments come at a time of huge change in business education and the wider academic sphere. Universities are desperately trying to figure out how best to utilize distance learning platforms, which enable students to learn in their own time by watching video lectures and engaging with classmates through video-conferencing systems.

Martin warned that universities must be very wary of staying in “our comfort zones”. “It can sometimes mean isolated, out-mooted or worst still, obsolete,” the vice chancellor said.

He said that the traditional educational model is “passive, obedient” and “one-dimensional”.  “The onset of technology is one of the most significant forces we’ve ever experienced and we can’t expect students to engage in the traditional model,” said Martin.

He said that today’s students are considered “digital natives” and have grown up using Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and other forms of social media to access information and to communicate with each other.

“In the 21st century, students themselves are demanding new, more engaging ways of learning and teaching,” Martin said. He added: “If education doesn’t keep up with this changing environment it will not only miss opportunities, but worse: we risk the sector becoming irrelevant.”

Martin said that it is vital that today’s education equips people with the skills and confidence they need to operate in a world which is now online as well as offline. “Most of them will graduate into jobs that will have technology at the very core of what they do, and perhaps jobs that we can’t even conceive of today.”

But he warned that the pace of change is “rapid”, and that institutions are wary of the “digital revolution” in education.

Martin said: “Understandably people cherish and nurture the traditions which are the bedrock of our organizations. Many are worried that what makes their institution unique will be diminished or eroded by the pace of change… Sceptics… They often see technology as a threat and incorporating it into teaching as dumbing down or diminishing the value to students.”

But he also said that educators should not jump on the “technological bandwagon” and that the newest thing “isn’t always best”.

There have been concerns that learning technology groups pose a threat to the traditional education model and that Moocs could eventually replace traditional business education. But Martin said: “Technology can’t and never will replace teaching – but it can help transform it and enrich it.”

Asked about the financial implications of people downloading courses for free, he said: “Once the internet was became alive (sic), Pandora’s box was opened forever. We were never coming back from that. We created the greatest viral mechanism to transmit information and data that mankind ever imagined.

“So the key is not to try and resist it… It’s to reimagine the value of traditional content and media by expressing it in different ways…. Shame on us that we can think we can keep on doing things the way that we did and somehow that would be recognised as valuable.”

Student Reviews

Bayes Business School

Student

Verified

31/10/2023

On Campus

Best Journalism school in Europe

When I first stepped onto the campus of City, University of London, I knew I was in for a ride - and not just on the Tube! With its vibrant energy and an impressive repertoire of programs, City U became my home away from home. The Journalism program was kind of a big deal. Rumour was that we were the best in Europe! The lecturers were not just experts in their field; they’re practically journalistic royalty. They were invested, passionate, and had a knack for turning the most flat press release into a riveting news story. With their guidance, I’ve learned to navigate the chaotic world of media like a pro. The campus was a melting pot of every culture, being that we had such a diverse international crowd. Being in the heart of London, I had the world at my fingertips - there was always a new corner to explore, a hidden gem of a cafe to discover, or a street performer! City, University of London wasn't just a university; it was a chapter in my life story that I’ll never forget.

Lydia

Verified

23/02/2023

On Campus

Learning environment

The teacher-learner ration is manageable, giving each learner a chance to gain personal attention. It is also easier following up on the progress of a student, as the numbers per class is not large. the conducive environment for learning includes clean classes, standard desks, world class instructional facilities and the opportunity to engage lecturers even after their sessions. The team spirit at City is above board, with learners getting chance to learn both from instructors and colleagues. This is the university of choice; the place to be.

Nathaniel

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24/01/2023

On Campus

Classes

I liked that each class had a manageable number of learners, making the professor-learner ratio favor knowledge acquisition. I also liked that study schedules were manageable, and not overwhelming. The focus on talents and gifts even within the learning environment makes it possible for learners to achieve the best of their potential, and this has worked to the advantage of those that have schooled at City, University of London

Muhammad

Verified

24/01/2023

On Campus

Classes

The diversity at City University facilitates interactions and is a direction toward the unity of the world. The classes are well built to match the number and needs of all students regardless of the elements of diversity that set people apart. The use of technology in delivery makes learning even more interesting and achievable. At City University there is no distinction pegged on the issues that make people unique.

Dorah

Verified

23/01/2023

On Campus

professors

The team of lecturers at the Uiversity are well experienced. Their level of insight and the methodologies of delivery works for the interes of the leaeners. My learning experience was largely boosted by the level of knowledge of the professors at the institution, and their passion to transfer the same to learners. I appreciate every class I attended because of the level of insight I was able to gather

Nora

Verified

17/12/2022

On Campus

The best university I’ve been to

The campus and the people I've met have made it a wonderful experience. I was reared in a small town with a graduating class of only 88 individuals, so moving to City University was a huge adjustment for me. My dorm has more residents than my whole high school combined! I enjoy the atmosphere here, and everyone is so friendly. Outstanding academic options and a stunning campus. Really great from beginning to end. The educators genuinely love what they do, and the students are ready to learn. On or around college, there is always something to do with friends, and the social scene is particularly warm.

Antonia

Verified

21/11/2022

On Campus

Bayes Business School

As a student at City university attending Bayes Business School I would totally recommend choosing this university as the experience is exceptional with great social networking opportunities . Professors are significantly helpful, delivering with excellence and professionalism. Everyone is happy to help and make you feel welcomed in such an esteem university as City, offering exceptional development and guidance through out the course.

Muhammad

Verified

15/11/2022

On Campus

Economics and Politics

Incredibly amazing university, the way they polish students and help them boost their morale and think intellectually is worthwhile. Many universities have international partnerships to allow exchanges between their students. The most obvious subjects for these opportunities would be those that involve languages, and the study of people and places.

Navya

Verified

11/11/2022

On Campus

Clinical biology

I really like it it’s perfect for me with not too many people and not too few either. All the modules are amazing. I love the toy bar. I love all the societies that I’ma part of. Especially the colour Bollywood society

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