Three R’s that universities care about

Martin Weller, The Ed Techie, Jun 29, 2015
Commentary by Stephen Downes

With apologies to the 5 Rs oft-cited by David Wiley, writes Martin Weller, here are the three Rs universities are really interested in (quoted):

  • Recruitment – depending on who you are, getting students is an issue. If you are an elite university it is not so much a matter of getting sufficient students, but getting the types of students you want. Either way recruiting students is the lifeblood of any university.
  • Retention – having recruited students, you then need to keep them. Why do students drop out within a module, or fail to progress to another module? What can we do to help students with particular needs? How can we be flexible enough to accommodate non-traditional students?
  • Reputation – what is the reputation of the university with potential students (see recruitment), the general population, the local community, the media, government, etc. What is it known for? What perceptions or misconceptions about it do people hold?

Weller is unquestionably right. These are the things universities care about. My question is: does anyone else care about these three things? Why should we care about them? When universities express these as priorities, are they serving society, they students, or merely themselves? Contra Weller, I ask, why should we make claims for MOOCs and other learning technologies against these three things?

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