UMW Cited as Model for Future of Networked Learning

UMW, and UMW Blogs in particular, is being heralded in Richard Demillo’s new book Abelard to Apple: The Fate of American Colleges and Universities as a space of great educational ferment, to quote from George Leef’s review of the book here. In fact, Leef’s review not only examines more popular open education mainstays like MIT’s Open Courseware, but spends a bit of time discussing the role of networked culture in re-imagining the future of higher education:

Open courseware is not the only way online learning is going to change higher education. DeMillo observes that whereas the traditional college class involves the broadcasting of information from the professor to (doubtfully alert) students, blogs involve rich connection networks where students and instructors interact and share their questions and information.

In that regard, DeMillo points to a little-known school where there is great educational ferment: “At the University of Mary Washington, learning takes place in the digital spaces engineered by Jim Groom and his band of Edupunks. At UMW, learning takes place in blogs.”

And when highlighting the importance of a networked culture for the future of learning at institutions UMW is highlighted as a model. UMW Blogs provides more than open resources and lectures on the internet, it also enables the ability to interact and share ideas and resources that helps bridge the gap between institutions of higher learning and the web.

James Bacon, proprietor of the Bacon’s Rebellion blog that focuses on all things Virginia, not only gave UMW kudos in for it’s work with UMW Blogs in his post on the DeMillo book, but also points out what remains the most important lesson of UMW Blogs. The open publishing platform is not remarkable because it is single-handedly transforming higher education (such an assertion would be absurd), but rather it is how this platform embodies “the process of experimentation” that is still in its infancy when it comes to the future of higher education. To Mary Washington’s great credit, it has been on the bleeding edge of innovation in this regard for more than seven years. What’s more, I’m glad people are recognizing it as a vital investment in not only the institution’s future, but in a larger discourse around the future of educational institutions.

Image credit:  Ethan Hein’s “Hyperbolic orthogonal dodecahedral honeycomb”

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