Building bridges between Higher Education and Corporate L&D

I came across this nice line from my old boss Donald Clark’s blog recently: “Much as Higher Education would like to think it has a monopoly on learning, it is merely one in many, many layers in the learning cake.”

True words and they got me thinking about some experiences good and bad, past and present, that I have had as a learning and development professional interacting with the Higher Education world from the ‘outside’.

An undercurrent of mistrust towards the corporate world?

One standout memory involves being invited to and attending a regional JISC meeting about mobile learning with some colleagues, to share what we were doing with mobile learning in corporates. While the delegates were perfectly nice, the organisers warned us in no uncertain terms upon arrival that we were “not on a sales pitch now”. We were put on a stern warning and made to feel like naughty pupils before we’d even sat down. It was quite a shocking welcome and not the collaborative, friendly approach we were expecting.

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The rise and rise of mobile learning

I have been collecting together examples the past few weeks of when higher education institutions started rolling out these ‘iPads for every student’ programs. While the world read those attention grabbing headlines, a larger number of institutions have been sliently spending vastly more money, but with much less exposure, on supporting Bring Your Own Device strategies and building out wireless networks across their campuses to support this. These huge investments in mobile learning technologies in higher education – for both free devices and BYOD – appears to have really started gaining momentum from 2008 onwards.

By coincidence I did a Google Scholar search on “mobile learning” last night.  Google Scholar indexes scholarly literature including journal and conference papers, theses and dissertations, academic books, pre-prints, abstracts and technical reports. I decided to conduct a year-by-year search from 2000 through to 2012 using the Advanced Search tools, and stuck the data into Excel so that I could chart it. The resulting line chart reveals the rise of mobile learning research from just over a hundred articles published in 2000 to over 6,000 published in 2012. That’s not cumulative, that’s 6,000 in a year! You can clearly see how mobile learning research really takes off in the second half of the decade, coinciding perfectly with the first wave of institutional spending in mobile technology.

4388OS_04_44Image: Google Scholar results for “mobile learning” by year

Now, would anyone like to read 6,000 research papers? That’d be a lifetime’s work for someone…

How open source development processes impact software quality

This article is part of a series of blog posts reviewing academic studies into open source software quality.

Exploring the Effects of Process Characteristics on Product Quality in Open Source Software Development, Koch and Neumann, 2008

Koch and Neumann from Vienna University published this paper in 2008. It built on prior published research into open source development processes and was a landmark study in terms of scale, extracting metrics from over 2 million lines of code. Prior published research in this area analysed data from code repositories and bug trackers, however Koch and Neumann were concerned that the resulting metrics focused too much on product rather than process. Their study would review both product AND process, with the particular aim of  assessing the impact of software processes on product quality.

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Research into open source software quality

My first decade in software development was in software testing and test management and despite moving away from that discipline it remains a special interest. As an open source practitioner I maintain a keen interest in where the worlds of software quality and open source meet. It goes without saying that quality is managed VERY differently in open source projects than it is in traditional closed-source projects. How differently, and how project attributes positively impact on quality, has been the focus of an increasing amount of academic research, especially now that the open source phenomenon is mainstream.

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