[ECAR Summer 2008] Richard Katz intro

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Richard leads off the Summer ECAR Symposium with an introduction.

He cites some in progress research that indicates the importance of cyberinfrastructure to the work of higher education and our success in building that infrastructure over the last 25 years. He thinks that our concerns need to shift from engineering to how the network transforms us as individuals and our institutions and societies. He quotes R.D. Laing on change “… we begin to see the present only when it is already disappearing.”

Question: Are we building tomorrow’s technology for yesterday’s world? (or yesterday’s university?)

The mashup is the dominant theme of today – Croatian flight attendants on Ryanair, didgeridoo bands in Geneva.

Higher Ed, c. 2008 – Shift from public good to private investment, rising costs, increasing pressures on revenues, increasing pressures to account for student success and institutional performance, democratization of access to university, increasing competition for talent, funds, incluence, balkanization. Higher ed is of increasing importance to the world economy.

The demographics of higher ed are identical across the developed world.

The Cloud continues to gain in importance and acceptability. How does the university reach out into the cloud to extend its present? How do we look at the cloud as a potential provider of new forms that can either invigorate or threaten our missions?

Trends: shifting balance of power; rising consumerism; the rise of ‘truthiness’; emergence of the collective; technology rolls on.

Student engagement is decreasing, according to several indicators, despite “really neat IT.”

Privatization of knowledge may impede the free flow of information.

Really Neat IT does not equate to great teaching. But great IT has helped great research. We’ll hear more of that in the next couple of days.

Question: what vision, metaphor or vision will define our boundaries and inspire our reach? If we continue adding incrementally we’ll build a highway to a sidetrack. Examples: The school of Athens; the Log College; the Student Free University; Murdoch University; Virtual U.

To fram our next steps: What is the ‘idea’ of the university? What is the institution really trying to do? What does the institution really need to do well to manifest its intent? What are the information infrastructures needed?

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