Guest Blog with Oracle
It’s certainly no secret that higher education globally is under going significant change. While it’s always difficult to have clear perspective when one is in the middle of a shift or period of dynamism, I believe this change is more profound than any we’ve seen in our lifetimes as higher education professionals, but I will also say that the change yet to come in the next 5-10 years is likely to be even more significant. Technology is underpinning a lot of these changes, but questions of culture, tradition, and historical precedent are being considered alongside discussions of the overall cost of education, the “return on investment,” student experience, and what truly defines “institutional excellence,” all questions that we hope to address at some stage during our upcoming participation in the Ovum Future EdTech conference in London.
All of us have been exposed to extremist predictions of massive reductions in the number of higher education institutions as a result of financial pressures and declining enrollment; the advent of MOOC’s (massive open online courses) and their purported ability to essentially replace the traditional model of delivering education content; the rapid ascent (and subsequent decline) of certain for-profit models of education; and in technology circles how everything “cloud” will allegedly solve all of our problems, financial as well as technical, and “solve world hunger” at the same time.
But lost in a lot of this hyperbole are a number of nuggets of positive change that have come from some of the forces I’ve just outlined. We’ve seen significant improvements in the delivery of education content through flipped classrooms and blended learning environments. MOOC’s haven’t replaced the traditional models of delivering education but they have had a positive influence on how students can be more effectively engaged and can learn at their own pace, while advances in technology have made on-line learning very interactive and engaging versus the passive models of the past.
In the “back office” of higher education, there has been significant pressure to drive operational efficiencies because of the draw-down over the past decade in public funding support for education, and as a result, albeit slowly, higher education has begun to adopt modern and more standard business processes in areas where bespoke process does not contribute significantly to the overall mission of teaching, learning and research. Furthermore because of the increased expectations around the “return on investment” in education, since more and more of the cost is being shouldered by the student and parent, more focus and emphasis is being placed on the overall student experience.
Underpinning all of this is a statistic I’d like to cite that comes from a survey conducted in the US annually by Casey Green of the Campus Computing Project that points to executive leadership (Vice Chancellors, Presidents, Provosts, etc.) of most institutions being significantly less sanguine about the effectiveness of IT investments in advancing the overall mission of the institutions versus their IT staff. In some cases this gap is as large as 20% in terms of those that rate these investments as “very effective” versus those that do not. This either speaks to unrealistic expectations, a failure to effectively communicate, or some other issue that perhaps we can explore during the upcoming Ovum Future EdTech conference.
One topic that I hope to address when I speak to the conference attendees during our session “Cloud Forecast: For Once A Very Promising Outlook” surrounds the larger general conversation in the higher education (and indeed across the entire education) sector that is quite prevalent: the general recognition that higher education is in need of significant change (transformation) – such as how education is delivered, how classrooms are organised, how information technology is leveraged, delivered, consumed, etc. but it always comes back to how do we change the culture of higher education to support or enable true transformation – new ways of thinking, new business models and revenue sources, non-traditional programmes, competency based education models, mostly on-line programmes, etc. – I hope to offer some ideas on the aforementioned points, and of course discuss how this cultural change is needed in order to extract maximum value from technology investments in the coming years.
For more information, please visit:
Oracle in Higher Education
Oracle Higher Education Cloud – Modern Campus. Modern Platform.
Oracle is our Mission Critical Sponsor at Future EdTech, taking place on the 2nd – 3rd June 2015 at Millenium Gloucester Hotel in London – the first and only event in Europe enabling transformational change and innovation in higher education via technology.
Join Cole Clark, Global Vice President, Education & Research at Oracle, for his session Cloud Forecast: For Once A Very Promising Outlook at 9:40am, Wednesday, 3rd June. Please also visit the exhibition stand to find out more.