Interview with OCW Treasurer Gary Matkin Part 2

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Welcome back to Part 2 of our interview with Gary Matkin, treasurer of the OCW consortium and Dean of Continuing Education at the University of California, Irvine. In Part 2, Gary lends us his viewpoints on the future of the OCW and education.

4. Where do you see the consortium in 5 years?

The OpenCourseWare Consortium (OCWC) will focus on spreading effective OCW models throughout the developing world, doing its part to break the “iron triangle” of cost, quality, and access which characterizes higher education today. It has been estimated that over 1 billion people who could benefit from higher education do not currently have access to it. This represents a tremendous waste of resources and leads to the kind of desperate actions we see on the news every day. There is not enough money in the world to create the kind of physical infrastructure that is the dominant mode of higher education today. There must be not only a technological solution, but a human solution in the form of organizations and distribution methods to get the educational product to the people who need it. While the path is not entirely clear, the OCWC is in a position to be a major contributor to the solution—a solution so eagerly and urgently sought by higher educators around the world.

5. Finally, what do you think of the advent of online education? Is it going to replace more traditional means of education or merely augment existing in-person learning?

The question assumes a framework that is rapidly eroding. Online education will neither replace nor augment in-person learning. Today, most classroom-based learning is significantly enhanced by online learning opportunities, so the categories themselves (classroom-based and online) have no clear boundaries. Instead the whole structure of learning and teaching will shift, first very slowly and then very quickly. It is clear that our daily lives, particularly in the developed world, have been completely altered by new technology—cell phones, Internet, email, and many other technology interventions. These technologies have caused a merging of work and personal time, entertainment and social interactions, and all within a very short period of time. Some of these trends can be seen right now in higher education. Learning is now easily accomplished outside the classroom and, in my view; nature will take its course. Where learning experiences, mediated or communicated through technology, prove effective for the learner they will be preferred. While there will continue to be wide differences in people’s preference over delivery or learning methodology, there will become patterns that will differ considerably from what we know now. Even at a basic level, in the structure of the brain, learning will change. I predict that even within a very short time—five years, say, the question asked here will be considered anachronistic, perhaps not even understood by most people under the age of 30.
We all have to recognize the pace of change in higher education and its implications for all of us, not framed by our experience but by what we observe right now around us all on a continuous basis. I have a growing concern that those of us educated in the old paradigm of education will be too slow in recognizing the change at a time when we are the ones in charge of educating those who we simply do not understand. A challenging time for all of us, but also one filled with excitement and promise.

Thanks for this excellent interview Gary! We are glad to learn about his insight about education and technology. Again, you can find Gary’s faculty page here and more information about the OCW consortium here. If you are interested in education and technology, please see Udemy’s main website.