Book Review

Digital Futures: Expert Briefings on Digital Technologies for Education and Research

Bringing together as editors sector leaders in educational theory and practice, ICT and academic libraries, this slim volume gives a whistle stop tour of the technological landscape the British higher education sector finds itself in. Key landmarks are identified, the challenges outlined and potential solutions developed.

In his chapter on the “snowball” that was MOOCs, David Kernohan questions if the experience of developing MOOCs can really help universities deliver blended learning given their less than overwhelming impact.

Frank Manistra and Jo Lambert provide an instructive account of how the open access debate can move from a carrot-and-stick approach within institutions to a “sea change” in attitude that embraces the broader benefits of open access, rather than narrow financial concerns.

Andrew Cormack examines how security can create opportunities rather than simply stop bad stuff from happening as responsibility for technological security increasingly diffuses and decentralises from IT departments to individual users.

Describing open data as a “nettle” that needs to be grasped, Rachel Bruce and Andy MacGregor compare the success of the opening up of government data in the UK to the stalling of the open data project in higher education, through a central strategic lead, technical developments in aggregation and identifiers, and cultural change.

In her chapter on student experience, Sarah Knight cautions against reifying technology and privileging it above the principles of quality teaching before describing how technology is enhancing curriculum develops through flipped classroom approaches and increased student engagement in assessment and feedback processes.

Matthew Dovey concludes with a chapter dedicated to research and international collaboration, looking at the technology that underpins virtual research environments and the challenges these present, including lack of interoperability and skills deficits in an ever changing technological landscape.

This collection of briefings provides a survey of the challenges and opportunities presented by new technologies in higher education and research. Each chapter could easily be expanded into an entire book. At times uncritical of the direction of travel in higher education and research, this practical guide is a springboard to find out more.

References:

Hall, M., Harrow, M., Estelle, L. (Eds). Digital Futures: Expert Briefings on Digital Technologies for Education and Research. Kidlington: Chandos Publishing.

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