Announcing e-Literate TV

This week is the week of the big annual EDUCAUSE conference which, among other things, is the world’s largest ed tech fashion show. In the next five days, we will learn that earth tones are the latest style for adaptive personalized learning systems, and that hemlines and license fees are both going way up this year. And by the end of the week, more than one conference-goer will be heard to mutter, “If I have to sit through one more MOOC presentation, I am going to shoot myself.”

And yet, outside this bubble, the noise dissipates surprisingly quickly. When Phil and I visit campuses, we routinely meet faculty who have literally never heard of MOOCs. When new ed tech products do come to campus, they are often either uncritically embraced as the savior of higher education or reflexively reviled as its destruction—and often the latter by one stakeholder group in quick reaction to the former by another group. We have real and serious challenges in education, some of which can genuinely be helped through the judicious application of technology by thoughtful and concerned educators. But we are not having the right conversations to match problems with solutions.

That is why Phil and I are delighted and excited to announce a new initiative we’re calling e-Literate TV, in collaboration with a company called In the Telling. Using some of the lessons that we’re learning from the MOOC community about differential engagement, our goal is create multiple entry points into a conversation about the issues. The first entry point is a series of 10-minute video episodes providing overviews of each new topic. One of the two great assets that In the Telling brings to the table is their experience at telling stories in film. With their help, we are crafting segments that we hope will be appealing and informative to those faculty, presidents, provosts, and other important college and university stakeholders who are not ed tech junkies. It will introduce the topics in what we hope will be an engaging and provocative manner. All episodes will be released under a Creative Commons license on YouTube.

For those who wish to dive deeper, we will be taking advantage of In the Telling’s second asset, which is their Telling Story platform. We can tie content directly to the timeline of each video, bringing up further references, like e-Literate blog posts or relevant scholarly articles, in context. And finally, we’ll be integrating that platform into WordPress, where we will be posing questions that are intended to be discussion starters across campus stakeholder groups. We are particularly interested in community- and conversation-building features and how to add to these capabilities over time. Access to that content will also be free, and in cases where it is e-Literate blog posts, it is already Creative Commons licensed.

The pilot series will consist of five episodes (not counting the introduction) on the following topics:

  • The big issues in higher education that are driving interest in and need for educational technology
  • The landscape of online learning
  • The state of play with MOOCs
  • The rise of courseware
  • Learning analytics and adaptive learning

Filming of these episodes has already begun and will be finished up at EDUCAUSE. We’ll have a longer trailer showing off some of this new material soon and expect to launch the pilot series in December or January.

Beyond that, we are seeking sponsorship to fund e-Literate TV as an ongoing project. We think we can do four series the size of the pilot every year. Truth to tell, each one of the pilot episodes could be a topic of its own series. We’re also interested in digging into topics like the role of open education, how to get beyond the factory model in the classroom, and how the ed tech ecosystem works.


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