Strengthening democracy through open education

Strengthening democracy through open education Patrick Blessinger St. John's University (NYC) and International HETL Association   Open education is the policy and practice of broadening access to allow greater participation in lifelong learning and tertiary education. It is based on the principle that everyone has a right to benefit from educational resources. The term 'open' is a term that implies the reduction or elimination of barriers (cost, distance, access) that allows for greater participation in high-quality educational processes, and ideally, the re-use and re-purposing of educational resources. Thus, the two main criteria of open education are that they are open and free. TJ Bliss and I, together with several educational scholars from around the world, examine these and other issues in the book, Open Education: International perspectives in higher education. Democratising knowledge In the modern era, the Printing Revolution marked the first major step towards democratising knowledge and enabling mass learning....

Transforming higher education’s creative capacity

Transforming higher education’s creative capacity Patrick Blessinger St. John's University (NYC) and International HETL Association   It has been nearly 20 years since UNESCO issued its World Declaration on Higher Education for the Twenty-First Century. Since its publication, global higher education has undergone dramatic change and global higher education enrolments have increased at a rate of about 5% per year. Today, higher education is in the midst of an academic revolution and many countries have now reached universal access status. The World Declaration on Higher Education promotes several important principles regarding creativity in higher education: Creativity should be used to integrate local/indigenous knowledge with advanced scientific knowledge, Curricula, teaching-learning and research should be organised in such a way as to continually foster creative thinking at every grade level, and Creative thinking and critical thinking should enhance and complement each other. Why creativity is important In the book, Creative Learning in Higher...

Revolutionising the global knowledge society

Revolutionising the global knowledge society Patrick Blessinger St. John's University (NYC) and International HETL Association   A revolution can be defined as a fundamental change to the status quo that occurs in a relatively short timeframe. Revolutions of all types (political, economic, social, technological) have occurred numerous times throughout human history. Although the seeds of revolutions are usually planted over many years, they typically do not reach full fruition until triggered by a momentous innovation, event or other actions. Historical analysis shows that revolutions serve as major catalysts for change. In other words, revolutions upset the established order. Some revolutions were particularly important (and necessary) for the continued development of mass learning and universal education. This phenomenon is analysed and explained in more depth in the book, Democratizing Higher Education. Emergence of mass learning In the modern era (1450 CE to the present day) the Printing Revolution – triggered by the...

Why higher education must be more inclusive

Why higher education must be more inclusive Patrick Blessinger St. John's University (NYC) and International HETL Association   The Cyrus Cylinder is widely considered to be the world’s first charter of human rights. Created in 539 BC by Cyrus the Great, King of Persia, it declared religious tolerance for all.  In addition, the modern human rights movement can be traced to two key political revolutions in the late 18th century: the American Revolution and the French Revolution. The two key documents to emerge from these revolutions were the US Bill of Rights and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. Both documents emphasised political and civil rights. The rights codified in these documents were not, however, initially extended to all people in those nations, most notably women and minorities. For instance, it took a civil war in the United States, and other national movements, to extend basic constitutional rights...

Creating a culture of inclusion in higher education

Creating a culture of inclusion in higher education  Patrick Blessinger  St. John's University (NYC) and International HETL Association   The increasing emphasis on inclusion and diversity in higher education around the world is due partly to the globalisation-internationalisation cycle (for instance, increased international immigration flows and increased global interdependencies), partly to the ongoing democratisation of higher education (for instance, increased pressure for equality-equity in all aspects of education) and partly to the emergence of lifelong learning as a human right. Within this context of intertwined factors, higher education systems around the world have now started to move beyond widening participation agendas (even though these are very important) and towards total inclusion agendas that are focused on the transformation of institutional cultures. In the forthcoming book, Inclusive Leadership in Higher Education, Lorraine Stefani and I, along with several educational scholars from around the world, examine and explain this emerging phenomenon. A paradigm shift towards inclusivity In addition to globalisation, democratisation...

The shifting landscape of doctoral education

The shifting landscape of doctoral education  Patrick Blessinger  St. John's University (NYC) and International HETL Association   The doctoral education landscape has changed dramatically over the last decade. One of the most important factors driving this change is the greater participation rates in graduate education from all segments of society. As such, doctoral programmes are increasingly diverse in terms of the demographic make-up of students as well as the increasing diversity of programme and degree types. Another important factor is the changing needs of society and of the education sector. Doctoral faculty and programme leaders realise the importance of making doctoral programmes relevant to the contemporary needs of society (the public beneficiary) and to students (the private beneficiary). Thus, the modernisation of doctoral programmes has become a top priority at most universities around the world. Denise Stockley and I, together with several international educational scholars, examine these and other issues in the book,...

A catalyst for change

A catalyst for change Patrick Blessinger St. John's University (NYC) and International HETL Association The continuing universalisation of higher education reflects the growing democratisation of knowledge around the world. In this emerging paradigm, higher learning is no longer the province of the knowledge elite, but is increasingly available to all. For instance, with the move towards open educational resources, massive open online courses, open universities, and the like, access to higher learning is now available to virtually anyone. In many respects, the continued de-monopolisation of higher learning allows for greater political, social, economic and personal empowerment. Democratising knowledge for all Of course, this is not a new phenomenon. Arguably, the first significant democratisation of knowledge occurred with the advent of the Printing Revolution in the 15th century with the invention of the printing press. The wide-ranging utility of the printing press laid the foundation for future political, social, economic and scientific revolutions such...

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