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Lessons from Other Sectors

Martin Weller
Zu finden in: The Digital Scholar, 2011    
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Martin WellerThe following are the six main lessons which I believe higher education can draw from newspapers and the music sectors:
  1. Change, when it comes, can happen very quickly.
  2. There are no assumptions that are unassailable, and there are many implicit assumptions that we are unaware of.
  3. Do not confuse form with function.
  4. The boundaries with other sectors become blurred.
  5. Calls to protect a practice because it serves a social function are not suffi cient to prevent it being radically altered.
  6. The combination of digitisation of content and the global social network creates an unpredictable environment which requires flexibility and rapidity of response.
Von Martin Weller im Buch The Digital Scholar (2011) im Text Lessons from Other Sectors
Martin WellerSo, is education, like newspapers or the music industry, minus five years or so? It’s tempting to think so, and there are some parallels, but the differences are significant also. Higher education is not merely a content industry and has some relationship to a physical institution often. The focus in this chapter has largely been on the teaching element of universities since this is the most apparent one to society, but of course, universities, and scholars, perform other functions too, most notably research but also dissemination, outreach and curation. However, I would suggest that if the teaching and learning functions were seriously undermined, these functions would not be suffi cient to maintain universities in their current state.
Von Martin Weller im Buch The Digital Scholar (2011) im Text Lessons from Other Sectors
Martin WellerIn Chapter 2, some of the rhetoric for revolution in education was examined. While this seems to be rather overblown when examined in detail, observation of other sectors reveals something of a revolution having taken place over the past decade. The changes in other sectors have often occurred despite the incumbents in the industry embracing the potential of new technology, coming either from external agencies or bottom-up pressure from consumers. The two key elements driving these changes are the ones outlined in Chapter 1:
  1. The digitisation of content - once content becomes digital it is easily and perfectly reproduced and distributed. Data are indiscriminate as to whether they represent an image, video or audio, so the analogue distinctions that existed between different industries to represent these media begin to blur.
  2. A global, social network - the Internet allows for the easy distribution of content, but more crucially the social element has removed the function of the fi lter that many industries used to perform.
When these two elements combine they create a powerful mixture which undermines existing business models. We can see this with two pertinent examples, that of newspapers and music.
Von Martin Weller im Buch The Digital Scholar (2011) im Text Lessons from Other Sectors

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