I have been reading the book “The Innovative University: Changing the DNA of Higher Education from the Inside Out” which focuses on educational alternatives. It specifically presents new ways of thinking about post-secondary educational delivery. It is an interesting book that focuses on the use of online courses supplementing in-person courses. This potentially extends learning experiences to a large group of people in geographically diverse communities in a cost effective manner. For the delivery of non-profit public programming it has great implications; it could lead to a model that combines internet technologies with partnering opportunities at a provincial or state level. If a network could be developed that tied together community organizations including arts councils, it would be possible to produce a learning environment where residents could develop ideas and share them with other towns and cities in a relatively cost effective manner. One of the strengths of social networks is their ability to “crowdsource” in developing new ideas. One of the strengths of onsite group participation is the dynamic ability to brainstorm which is often more difficult in social networks. Since communication is often 80% non-verbal there are some limitations to social networks in their current form. By combining both methods there is a potential for synergy.
By combining the strength of each delivery method there are also other implications. It promotes a sustainable environment by decreasing the need to travel between relatively distant locations, for example Nanaimo and Nelson, British Columbia. The internet becomes a major channel for content delivery when partnered with live in-person group participation. This would be in line with residents in British Columbia who desire protection of the environment while maximizing the use of technology in a positive manner. This collaborative approach could be done by relying less on carbon emitting vehicles and relying more on potentially greener technology. Another factor which is helpful is the better utilization of current facilities to deliver learning opportunities. Instead of creating new facilities which cost larger amounts for municipal governments, existing buildings and infrastructure such as community centres could be more efficiently utilized. For those who may not use wi-fi broadband networks extensively, these centres could be upgraded to make them more efficient venues. More resources could be focused on hiring skilled facilitators and educators.
Hopefully we can build stronger public programming that makes our communities even better.