Can a university be an App?

Cuffe, Laurence (2014) Can a university be an App? In: The 15th Educational Technology Conference of the Irish Learning Technology Association (ILTA). May 29th and 30th, UCD, Dublin, Ireland.


Using Newman's Idea of a University as a starting point, I explore the potential of modern technology to carry this vision forward, and present a model of a university as a distributed computer application. In doing so, I draw inspiration from the Open badges movement, the evolution of the SCORM learning object standards, the increasing use of creative commons licences for educational content and the ideas behind distributed operating systems such as inferno. This provides the basis for considering that such a computer application could be considered as a global university. Many of the elements of such a global university exist, with course providers such as Edx, Coursera, Udacity and Alison, as well as supranational certification bodies such as Microsoft, and Novel. In articulating this vision I explore the idea of a university as a distributed open ecosystem where the academic quality of individual courses is externally validated by either independent certification, or by crowd sourced evaluations. I give examples of both methodologies from current practice. In putting forward this proposal my aim is not to set up such an organization but rather to explore the limits of current technology, and highlight some of the emergent issues which cloud computing and trans-national technology are bringing to the educational arena.

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