One of EdTech’s 50 must-read IT bloggers speaks out on the issues in higher education that are shaping the future.

Kevin Corbett is an online learning program developer with a keen interest in social media, gamification and mobile learning.

Kevin Corbett“E-learning will continue to increase and be leveraged in universities to extend learning,” says educator Kevin Corbett.

Corbett’s self-titled blog provides educators with invaluable advice about technology today, along with how-tos they might not get from their institutions. It was recently named one of EdTech’s 2015 “50 Must-Read Higher Ed IT Blogs.”

EdTech recently had the chance to discuss Corbett’s origins as an educator, what piques his interest in the world of educational technology and where he sees institutions leaning in the future.

EDTECH: How did you get started in education, and what has kept you in it?

CORBETT:  During college, I had the opportunity to coach local youth. I was energized at helping young people succeed and inspired with their personal transformation when they earned success. Going into education was important to me for four reasons: because I wanted every student to be successful, to have them feel the personal pride of accomplishment in the classroom, help them develop their interests, and achieve their individual goals.

I’ve stayed in education because I’ve been fortunate to have exceptional administrators who have given me the trust, freedom, and power to develop cutting-edge transformative programs, so students and teachers have positive outcomes and experiences.

EDTECH: Higher education is facing a series of crises — some financial, some regarding the shape of its future iterations. How do you see the higher education world adapting to these challenges? And what role will e-learning play in those changes?

CORBETT:  The complexity and variability of cost models related to higher education make it a difficult problem to understand. Simply, as public subsidies are reduced and tuition increases, it’s problematic for both the institutions and its students. (See: Delta Cost Project)

Tweet this! E-learning will continue to increase and be leveraged in universities to extend learning. I’m please to see some growth in meaningful certifications (when accepted by industry) and competency- based learning, which has potential to reduce per- student overall costs.

Shifting costs to students through rising tuition only, is troubling: 70 percent of students borrowing an average of $33,000; 30 percent in deferment and over $1 trillion dollars in student debt nationally. Tuition costs exceeding income are not indefinitely sustainable. It bothers me to see local high schools pushing every student to attend a four-year university with the myth that a college degree somehow guarantees success in life.

EDTECH: Your blog posts often cover your thoughts on gamification. What was your response to learning that it was being cut as an evolving trend on the 2015 NMC Horizon List? Is there a future for gamification, and how does it work in higher ed classrooms?

CORBETT: I’m not surprised by gamification being dropped from the 2015 NMC Horizon List. There is promise and peril in gamification as it relates to education. I find it’s generally not very well understood how to apply game principles to a course (versus playing a game being “game- based learning”) as it goes beyond simply adding points, badges and leader boards. Engagement and fun are the critical components. Additionally, it can be very time- consuming to develop on the front -end, and I’m not confident there is time or incentive to invest in its development, nor a platform that makes it easy to do so.

EDTECH: The past five years have been truly transformative for universities in the technology sector. Do you foresee a similarly turbulent future in terms of technological progress, or are we at a plateau?

CORBETT: Tweet this! I believe the transformational learning made possible through technology will continue to progress and has potential to improve the higher education learning space.

Any turbulence, I suspect, will come from policy discussions in two places. First, are the policies institutions will be forced to engage in as they confront global technological advances and the need to meet challenges from outside competing forces. Second, will be internal decisions around fundamental questions about how their institution organizes and operates, while also providing rich, engaging learning and teaching opportunities. Personally, I will be most interested in what instructors do during class when all the course content is online. One of my favorites that others could learn from would be Boise State University’s Jackie Gerstein.

EDTECH: You have a rich history in blogging. What advice would you offer those just starting out?

CORBETT: I think it’s important for an individual to establish their own online identity and control the message about themselves that they want public on the Internet. Reputation management can be troubling to professionals who find themselves maligned on the Internet and frustrated with the ease at which other people can post negative things about them. Educators worry about students’ “digital footprints” and “digital tattoos,” yet often neglect their own. Blogging under your own domain name gives you that control.

Here are my personal “Four C’s” for beginning bloggers:

  • Start first with CURATION, by re-posting other’s’ articles that interest you.
  • Next, post the article and COMMENT about it.
  • Third, CREATE your own original article.
  • Lastly, engage with others and CONVERSE with people about mutual interests.

Read more of Corbett’s thoughts on his blog, KevinCorbett.com.

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