[ECAR 2007 Summer Symposium] The Tower and the Cloud – morning session

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Richard Katz kicks off the symposium. He asks whether we in higher-ed are incrementally improving the state of the world just in time to fall off the edge of the cliff?

The Educause executive team perceived that there is a vision gap in higher-ed IT – something is changing – how do these changes need to be internalized by those of us responsible for higher-ed IT, so higher-ed extends its footprint and reach?

Rising competition – for talend (elite students and faculty), for resources (federal budget deficit, rising welfare costs, etc), fast growing for-profit sector, privatization of research. China now has a positive balance of surplus with Maylasia in higher-ed already.

Declining Affordability of education.

Changing students and parents – changing mores about information ownership, access and privacy; both “net gen” and those needing remediation. An increasing gap in how students present themselves and the culture of higher education. Students and parents increasingly view higher-ed as a consumer good. Students come to us and face a medieval academy with antiquated methods and practices. How do we interact with them and adapt our culture, systems, and techniques?

New accent on sustainability – greening of services; stewardship and resuse of hardware, software, tools, instruments, and data.

Changing political economy

Technology challenges – incredible complexity – how do we create resilient systems? The impact of Web 2.0 is important – lots of interesting and important stuff going on there. Talking to young people about information technology is like asking fish about water.

Changing tower, expanding cloud – A real transformation underway in higher education? physical or virtual; high cost physical plant or low cost; academic calendar or 7x24x365; academic oligopoly vs. algorithmic populism; fee for service business model vs. variety of models; bundled offering vs. extreme unbundling

history of institutionalization – in early Europe students banded together and pooled their resources to bring faculty to teach. Itinerant scholars roving the countryside, trying to prove their worth. How long will it be before we see this kind of activity in Second Life and Wikipedia? At some time we may lose our oligopoly on accreditation. It’s not so good to be a monk anymore – or Britannica!

Questions to consider:

– Is a real transformation underway?
– IF so, can we trace some of the principal vectors of change?
– How might our institutions be affectex?
– What do our institutions need to consider to benefit from new opportunities, or to mitigate new risks?
– What must we in IT do to facilitate the needed changes?

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