Educause Game Changers book worth a look

Educause is well known to the denizens of HE, and they have just released a new book edited by Diana Oblinger, [Game Changers: Education and Information Technologies](http://www.educause.edu/game-changers). With 17 chapters and an additional 21 case studies, the work is a compilation of authors’ views about how “Institutions are finding new ways of achieving higher education’s mission without being crippled by constraints or overpowered by greater expectations”. The authors are a collection of university presidents, provosts, faculty and others who are taking a serious analysis of how the face of HE needs to change to sustain.I have only had the chance to look at a couple of chapters so far, but Paul E. Lingenfelter has written an interesting chapter on the modern knowledge economy. In this, he develops four issues:

1. Higher education must become less of an elite enterprise; a much larger fraction of the world population will need higher education. Everybody will not need or achieve a four-year degree, but many more people must be educated to a higher standard than previously required. Achieving this goal will require both more effective education of disadvantaged groups and social policies to enable them to pay the costs of higher learning. Moreover, people are likely to obtain higher education throughout life, both as an economic necessity and as a “consumer good.” Many young people are likely to make the transition from adolescence to adulthood in “brick and mortar” colleges and universities, but this will not be the end of their higher education.

2. Higher education in the United States will continue to be a high social and political priority, but the economic stress of an aging population, health-care costs, growing deficits, and resistance to tax increases will require colleges and universities to increase productivity substantially in order to meet national goals. Achieving productivity gains while enhancing quality is the most significant challenge facing higher education. IT is a critically important resource for meeting this challenge.

3. The diversity of knowledge providers and delivery systems requires reengineered postsecondary systems to assure quality and promote improvement. More transparent and clear definitions of degree qualifications and new approaches to accreditation and the assessment and certification of learning are needed.

4. The growing importance of educational attainment will require more robust relationships between elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education. Stronger, more meaningful P–20 relationships in standards, professional development, and data systems are essential.

Diana has a chapter on *IT as a game changer* and she develops a number of opportunities for this to occur. A couple strike me immediately, namely, *Informed decision making* and *unbundling and rebundling*. In the former, she addresses the growing importance of analytics. I would hold that predictive will become even more important than the descriptive aspect of this. One of the impacts of the growing importance of this model, I predict, is the growth of big data in the HEI of tomorrow. I just was discussing this with team members who were convinced that big data was not relevant to HE IT. But I feel that the transactional log data from IT systems, all increasing because of the growth of digital access to learning, will increase our need to use big data methods and patterns in managing and improving that experience.

In *unbundling and rebundling*, Diana takes an interesting look at disruptive innovation opportunities on three models relevant to HE:

1. Open business models—these models use external as well as internal ideas and resources. For example, an “outside in” model uses external ideas and resources to support the institution (e.g., open educational resources used in courses).

2. Unbundled models—in these models, providers of specific products (e.g., student recruitment services or infrastructure services) are integrated into an institution’s structure.

3. Facilitated network models—these bring together a mixture of products and services from multiple organizations to improve a service.

But this makes me remember another Educause book, [The Tower and the Cloud](http://www.educause.edu/thetowerandthecloud/), where Richard Katz introduced me to the idea of unbundling being a market force in HE. Katz was talking about unbundling specific courses from programmes, and the loss of protection this would give to some traditionally protected areas, via requirements that all students would take that course as part of a programme, regardless of demand outside of the academy. What strikes me currently is that the badges movement currently happening could be modeled as an unbundling of credentials from large bundled, protected programmes. It strikes me that all of the consumer benefits that unbundling delivers could be mapped onto badges.

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