The Red Balloon Project, in cooperation with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, is a national innovation to re-imagine and re-design learning for the 21st century. Institutions of higher education across the country are facing the challenges of emerging technologies, reductions in funding, generational change, increased competition, and calls for more access and accountability. The Red Balloon Project is attempting to create a national dialogue and serve as a repository of resources to foster innovation and transformation with regard to how our students learn.
Higher education is being buffeted by a perfect storm of challenges. The call for greater levels of access and accountability at the national level have been met with lower levels of funding and higher enrollments at the state level. The importance of distance education and blended learning as strategic assets is undeniable. Businesses and non-profit organizations alike want graduates that have skill sets that meet the needs of 21st century jobs and the imperative of globalization. All of these demands are set in the context of a turbulent democracy in need of educated citizens that can make informed and intelligent decisions about a growing array of economic, political, scientific and sociological issues.
The Red Balloon Project and the effort to prepare Next-Generation Faculty brings together the re-imagination of undergraduate learning, the use of emerging technologies, the application of open educational resources and power of participative pedagogies to better engage students and accommodate new generations of learners. Fort Hays State University (FHSU) recognizes that learning can be improved, supplemented and augmented by technology. Real and lasting transformation of learning takes place, however, when Web 2.0 technology is combined with opportunities for innovation and a blended approach to course design and re-design.