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Brent Hoberman on web-based higher education

Updated Thursday, 22nd September 2011

Brent Hoberman discusses the potential advantages of teaching and learning through internet-based resources

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Brent Hoberman was talking to The Open University Business School's Leslie Budd after a recording of The Bottom Line.




Leslie Budd

Brent, you’ve seen the ups and downs of the internet business.  I wonder what your thoughts are on the potentiality but also the problems of web based higher education.

Brent Hoberman

Well, I mean I see obviously, I mean like most things web I'm a massive enthusiast, I think that what it does obviously is web based higher education gives access to huge amounts more people in, actually and also in developing markets as well, to the best minds.  I mean if we look at it in a slightly different sense, but if you look at what have done, with their 18 minute thought pieces and the huge audience they’ve built up, I think it also brings learning to people that may have found that less accessible, so I think the web will continue to do that.  I think the other thing that I find quite exciting about web based learning is that it makes you as, a course as good as its best professor, not its worst professor, so I think that’s a big change.

Leslie Budd

Yeah.  At the Open University, we combine a virtual learning environment with a personalised learning environment.  To what extent does this hybrid model hold out the promise of delivering on lifelong learning, in your view?

Brent Hoberman

Sorry, is the, by personalised are you meaning with a person one-to-one or are you saying it’s a computer personalised…

Leslie Budd

Yes, we’re, so the backup, well, it could be computer personalised through remote, but things like tutor support, residential schools, knowing actually who your professors are, either through blogs or Twitter or LinkedIn.

Brent Hoberman

Well I think I mean more generally what’s happened is obviously in the few experiments where this is going on, I mean I guess sometimes not in higher education but in education before that, and college education, the personalised learning through computers is really proving that for example a teacher in a classroom can now focus on those children who are getting stuff wrong, and the rest of the class doesn’t need to be held up, and they can see with data straight away that this child there in that seat has got this problem and needs a bit more help and encouragement and understanding.  And I think that with traditional methods, of course it’s possible, but I think it’s much harder, and again I think you have to be a much better teacher without those tools to get the same result.

Leslie Budd

Okay, and finally what do you think about developing an education business based on the web?

Brent Hoberman

Well we have, with a venture fund I'm involved in, we have invested in one we’re very excited about, one called mangahigh, and what that business is is it, students play games and they learn maths by playing games.  So I think that’s another very, and the games, the maths in the games are tied into the school curriculum, so it is, and the teachers can then have a portal and see how their students are doing at playing games.  So I think anything to me that makes learning more fun is a winner, and I think so far the results of this are showing that students who play these games do better at their maths.

Leslie Budd

Okay, and just quickly would you expand that market into vocational and higher education?

Brent Hoberman

Yeah, I think it’s absolutely no reason not to do it in vocational and higher education, and I think the other interesting thing that’s happening which we alluded to earlier in higher education, are companies like I think TutorVista, where actually what you're getting is professors, remotely sometimes, over the internet, in countries like India, very educated, very smart people, but yes at lower cost, helping students with a one-to-one training and even at higher education levels.  So I think the more, and I'm also, I'm a governor of the University of the Arts London, and I think one of the feedback we’re always getting there is more investment in systems please, you know, and so I think students want it too.

Leslie Budd

Brent Hoberman, thank you very much.

Brent Hoberman

Thank you.



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