Are new technologies bringing down barriers in HE?

One of the themes in the Guardian live discussion on 3rd June was about the effect social media and the Internet in general, have or don’t have on the barriers that exist in HE. The barriers particularly referred to were those between disciplines and those between researchers and the general public.

I’m pretty certain that I would question whether the barriers are being brought down. Every discipline has its own culture and therefore different beliefs about learning, knowledge and teaching. It’s difficult to share things across those types of barriers. Looking at some of the comments on the Guardian discussion it seems that there is a fair bit of animosity towards researchers on the part of the general public.

There is of course the problem that lots of people in HE run in to and that’s the sharp intake of breath when a new way of doing something in research or teaching is suggested. Another thing that gets in the way of sharing is that most but not all,researchers don’t make it easy to even find their results. Some are better than others but, as mentioned in the previous post, fear holds back a lot of people (and also).

There are then the problems of getting researchers and even undergraduates to use digital technologies to help them in their work. At the moment our own Graduate School provides sessions on Digital Literacy and this support is now in the process of being put online. The problem still remains though of how do we know if people are using these technologies or not:$

There are loads of little threads going through this whole discussion. I hope I’m picking up on them all and I’ll certainly bring you another tomorrow.


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