Sramana: What are some of the other trends occurring in this space now?
Gary Matkin: In general, there is a very large gap in the technology that is presently being offered. That gap is conventionally called content management. Publishers are doing more and more to create content that is quite well managed. Learning management systems are using some of that stuff, but learning management systems and content management systems the way the publishers are doing it are fighting a bit. I have seen that those communities are starting to work together a bit better.
Most institutions do not have their own content management systems so that when one particular professor creates a course, and a second professor creates a second course, and so on, there is not a lot of coordination. There is a lack of archiving and appropriate digital rights management for the content being generated. There is a huge amount of content generated.
One of the reasons we have our open courseware site is that it has become a defacto repository for material that everyone can see. I think that in a relatively short period of time we will see the creation of content management systems that are much more useful than anything people have been able to create so far.
Sramana: We have had several traditional publishers who served the higher education space begin to move into digital publishing and digital content. They are trying to do the kind of instructional design, user experience design, and skill gap assessment that is needed going forward. However, these companies are financially unhealthy.
Gary Matkin: They are trying to sell a product that nobody wants to buy. It is a very good product and it is probably very logical. However, the way professors work does not fit that model. Professors will create their own course. They are not going to buy a course from someone else. We have had Flat World Knowledge on our campus but very few instructors are picking up on this. Publishers are not going to push it down on us. It has to be a grass roots response. Somehow, we need the technology that does that inside of our own institutions.
Sramana: The problem is that the teachers are not necessarily great software and user experience designers. They don’t have the skills to design a course at a level that would be effective for students.
Gary Matkin: I have not seen a software design for content management that makes any sense. There have been some attempts at it.
Sramana: Different worlds have to come together for that. Content experts and software design experts operate in isolated worlds.
Gary Matkin: Exactly. I think that is true.
Sramana: This has been a very interesting discussion. Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences.