The world is changing faster than universities.Saying this,will come as no surprise to anyone involved with technology or web related services.But there are many throughout the university – and at all levels of the organisation - who don’t have that same level of appreciationBecause of this, they’re not well placed to consider what these advances mean for the management and delivery of future services, the development of strategy, and ultimately, business change for the university.In this talk I hope to give some insight as to what’s happening “out there” that is relevant to our sector, and to provide some ideas of future directions that IT Services could consider to go in. Without such consideration, my thesis is that we’re abrogating any hope to hold a leadership position at the heart of the business of a university and worse still may make ourselves targets for something much worse - wholesale outsourcing - as “all we provide is a commodity.
British universities have world-class reputations and they are vital to our social and economic future. But they are in a tight spot. The huge public investment that sustained much of the sector is in jeopardy and the current way of working is not sustainable. Some are predicting the end of the university as we have known it.The Edgeless University argues that this can be a moment of rebirth for universities. Technology is changing universities as they become just one source among many for ideas, knowledge and innovation. But online tools and open access also offer the means for their survival. Their expertise and value is needed more than ever to validate and support learning and research. Through their institutional capital, universities can use technology to offer more flexible provision and open more equal routes to higher education and learning.We need the learning and research that higher education provides. But this will take strategic leadership from within, new connections with a growing world of informal learning and a commitment to openness and collaboration. By exploiting this role, universities can harness technology as a solution and an indispensable tool for shaping their vital role in the future.
Web 2.0, the Social Web, has had a profound effect on behaviours, particularly those of young people whose medium and metier it is. They inhabit it with ease and it has led them to a strong sense of communities of interest linked in their own web spaces, and to a disposition to share and participate. It has also led them to impatience – a preference for quick answers – and to a casual approach to evaluating information and attributing it and also to copyright and legal constraints.The world they encounter in higher education has been constructed on a wholly different set of norms. Characterised broadly, it is hierarchical, substantially introvert, guarded, careful, precise and measured. The two worlds are currently co-existing, with present-day students effectively occupying a position on the cusp of change. They aren’t demanding different approaches; rather they are making such adaptations as are necessary for the time it takes to gain their qualifications. Effectively, they are managing a disjuncture, and the situation is feeding the natural inertia of any established system. It is, however, unlikely to be sustainable in the long term. The next generation is unlikely to be so accommodating and some rapprochement will be necessary if higher education is to continue to provide a learning experience that is recognised as stimulating, challenging and relevant.The impetus for change will come from students themselves as the behaviours and approaches apparent now become more deeply embedded in subsequent cohorts of entrants and the most positive of them – the experimentation, networking and collaboration, for example – are encouraged and reinforced through a school system seeking, in a reformed curriculum, to place greater emphasis on such dispositions. It will also come from policy imperatives in relation to skills development, specifically development of employability skills. These are backed by employer demands and include a range of ‘soft skills’ such as networking, teamwork, collaboration and self-direction, which are among those fostered by students’ engagement with Social Web technologies.Higher education has a key role in helping students refine, extend and articulate the diverse range of skills they have developed through their experience of Web 2.0 technologies. It not only can, but should, fulfil this role, and it should do so through a partnership with students to develop approaches to learning and teaching. This does not necessarily mean wholesale incorporation of ICT into teaching and learning. Rather it means adapting to and capitalising on evolving and intensifying behaviours that are being shaped by the experience of the newest technologies. In practice it means building on and steering the positive aspects of those behaviours such as experimentation, collaboration and teamwork, while addressing the negatives such as a casual and insufficiently critical attitude to information. The means to these ends should be the best tools for the job, whatever they may be. The role of institutions of higher education is to enable informed choice in the matter of those tools, and to support them and their effective deployment.
Key TrendsThe abundance of resources and relationships made easily accessible via the Internet is increasingly challenging us to revisit our roles as educators in sense-making, coaching, and credentialing.People expect to be able to work, learn, and study whenever and wherever they want to. The technologies we use are increasingly cloud-based, and our notions of IT support are decentralized.The work of students is increasingly seen as collaborative by nature, and there is more cross-campus collaboration between departments. Critical challengesThe role of the academy — and the way we prepare students for their future lives — is changing.New scholarly forms of authoring, publishing, and researching continue to emerge but appropriate metrics for evaluating them increasingly and far too often lag behind.Digital media literacy continues its rise in importance as a key skill in every discipline and profession.Institutions increasingly focus more narrowly on key goals, as a result of shrinking budgets in the present economic climate.Technologies to watch (within the next 12 months)Mobile computing, by which we mean use of the network-capable devices students are already carrying, is already established on many campuses, although before we see widespread use, concerns about privacy, classroom management, and access will need to be addressed.Open content, also expected to reach mainstream use in the next twelve months, is the current form of a movement that began nearly a decade ago, when schools like MIT began to make their course content freely available.Technologies to watch (within the next 2-3 years)Electronic books have been available in some form for nearly four decades, but the past twelve months have seen a dramatic upswing in their acceptance and use.Simple augmented reality refers to the shift that has made augmented reality accessible to almost anyone. Technologies to watch (within the next 4-5 years)Gesture-based computing is already strong in the consumer market and we are seeing a growing number of prototypical applications for training, research, and study, though this technology is still some time away from common educational use.Visual data analysis, a way of discovering and understanding patterns in large data sets via visual interpretation, is currently used in the scientific analysis of complex processes.computing
In this report, Cathy Davidson and David Theo Goldberg focus on the potential for shared and interactive learning made possible by the Internet. They argue that the single most important characteristic of the Internet is its capacity for world-wide community and the limitless exchange of ideas. The Internet brings about a way of learning that is not new or revolutionary but is now the norm for today’s graduating high school and college classes. It is for this reason that Davidson and Goldberg call on us to examine potential new models of digital learning and rethink our virtually enabled and enhanced learning institutions.This report is available in a free digital edition on the MIT Press website at http://mitpress.mit.edu/9780262513593.Institutions are conservative; the internet is decentralised and fluidDigitality spans institutions – knowledge spans institutions – consider wikipediaParticipatory learning – equality, wisdom of crowds – educationalists in the rear; traditional learning is based upon the individual, but future learning is essentially collaborative and interactiveRemix authorship – publishing models are changing; personal publishing and re-working of existing materials is commonplace – but our current institutions still hold-on to old models and old measures of validating scholarship – but users are demanding changesChallenge is to rethink every aspect (from economic theory to citation) of what we think of as “knowledge production”eclectic, hyperlinked, multi-path – a web of learningFrom top-down to collaborative, from hierarchical to sharing knowledge; from learning THAT to learning HOW – from content to processMulti-faceted discussion of issues; learning is about making wise decisions; the collective enables making such decisionsThe value of wikipedia is in harnessing the volunteer to collectively check, skeptically enquire, and assess information in groups. This is true education.Essentially more powerful than individualised competitive learning. The framework is totally different even if the tools being used might be the same.A move from individualised copyright protected, ipr and privatisation of knowledge to one where open source and open content is the ideal. A move from the hierarchical (the expert knows best) to one where peer-to-peer and/or many-to-many is the goal. A social revolution that attempts to break down the digital divide as well.You’re not alone, part of a mesh (both technically by devices being inter-connected) and virtually – meaning that you’re always better equipped to resolve problemsParticipatory learning leads to lifelong learning as there is no finalityMove away from structures and regulations towards a model where flexibility, inteactivity and outcome is valued – raising issues of reliability and predictability as greater dependence is placed upon networked and mobile learning.Scale is driven by the nature of the shared work activity; flexibility by the degree of openness that the participants are willing to exhibit. Virtual communities make the creation of small groups of “expert learners” so much more feasible as spatial location is not an obstacle; and large groups can be accommodated by the scalability of the technology which places no limit on the number of participants.
The question “what kind of IT Service?” also has to be considered. I think the really differentiating feature of the future service offering is the advice and guidance – the education – that we provide. So it’s “engagement, enablement and EDUCATION” – I think the Service Department of the future (not just IT) needs to get much more into this piece – preparing the user for the “brave new world” that they’re possibly stumbling into, iPhone in hand. In this way they (the Service Departments) may be able to envision processes operating across silos and thus return real operational value to the user who is really only interested in completing tasks, not who their service provider is.
The world has changed so rapidly in the last 12 months. Even the CEO now wants an iPhone rather than a BlackBerry. With V4.0 software around the corner, the iPhone moves to a position where corporates may be willing to embrace it. And when the iPad becomes commonplace … What this means is that we, as IT Services organisations, must adapt and adopt a scenario where we don’t own the devices. We need to be able to co-habit with social applications on personal devices. Do I really need to carry my iPhone and a BlackBerry around with me – one for life (which I’ve paid for) and one for work. I think not. The challenge is to have a tiered approach to service delivery. Be right up front and say that AppX can’t be made available on anything less than a DeviceY, which has USB dongle Z provided. If you’re up front and explain the reasons why X can’t be made available – the user should be able to understand if they can see Apps A, B and C being delivered the way they would want them to be. What I’m saying here is that the service offering cannot be offered as “this is what you’ve got, this is what we support”, we must be more flexible and must be able to move rapidly with the user’s requirements and the devices they own.
Linked to this is the idea (raised in my blog post) that Open Source could be a Shared Service and could be the thing that re-engages developers in our departments with coding and with this the possibility of providing a new purpose and reason for collaboration. Imagine it. One site specialise in writing the middleware, another site specialises in device drivers and APIs, another produces apps for different platforms or for cross-platform delivery. This is the moment when we (University IT departments) could take back some of the ground we’ve ceded to the large software corporations. What makes this so appealing? Consumer electronics and personally owned computing devices …
Top of my strategic agenda for change is the federalising of web content and services. This is enabling infrastructure that prepares your content and services for wider availability and improved access; for wider use by students and to enable greater collaborative learning. The Horizon Report (already mentioned above) highlights the likelihood of Open Content being a major future trend, we’ve had the CLEX and The Edgeless University reports and quite recently I came across The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age. The messages from all of these should be considered and reflected upon in the context of your institution. No web-service, no content, should go out the door into production without it being shibbolised.
Collaboration software in the enterprise is essential. It doesn’t really matter what it is – ning, jive, connections, sharepoint. Make sure it’s not just behind the firewall though – we do as much collaboration outside the university as we do inside and indeed a hosted solution might be the most effective solution from a licensing and service offering point of view … and try and get it shibbolised, please!
The workstation desktop is overdue for review. What is the desktop image? Does everyone need one? (I don’t.) Is there not scope for a hybrid approach that locks down desktops to key administrative areas and desks and open access areas and then delivers applications via thin-client elsewhere. That way we could deliver a corporate “experience” to a wider community of users than our existing Windows based desktop image does. It would enable Mac and Linux users to share in the experience as well as allow researchers (with admin access to their workstations) to have more freedom over their desktop. It would also have a wider reach (indeed web connection would be the pre-requisite) and mean that roaming profiles might not be necessary. Link that to making the desktop image itself skinnier and you might result in a process improvement that would be universally appreciated.
I’ve already referred to SaaS offerings and that’s where we must do some long and hard thinking. Running Google Apps or Live@edu is no longer innovative. It’s becoming common place. Can you make an argument for retaining email in-house? Is it a differentiating application from which your institution gains business benefit – or do we just want it to work. Go one stage further - is it essential to keep supporting the Microsoft suite on all desktop platforms – maybe the imaged workstations – but is it really necessary for students? Office Apps in the cloud would appear a real candidate for out-sourcing as would Google Apps, and one surprisingly (see how the arguments have changed) that hits the transferable skills case for students who will be able to go on using Google Apps or Microsoft Apps in the cloud – with their own filestore (note there as an even more compelling and cost-saving argument here) – after they’ve left us and taken up work somewhere else. Indeed it could be argued that this is the relevant experience we should be giving our under-graduate students now, rather than the bloated desktop application (particularly in its latest incarnation which is so different from its predecessors).
Finally the question of lag must be considered. The speed which budgetary cuts will be imposed will be faster than our ability to respond to them, UNLESS we’ve done some prioritisation and have some strategies in place. What are the drivers – cost-cutting or technology co-habitation? Can they be combined in some way. What utility computing do we provide? Can this be implemented quickly by outsourcing it quickly (as many others in the UK and US have done), thus gaining some breathing space to do some “value-generating work”. These are all important questions and a lot more “what if … ?” scenarios have to be worked-up and plans prepared for the inevitable budget-cuts there are to come. Otherwise there will be pain.
2010 … so that’s it for IT Services … or is it? David Harrison Cardiff University
Agenda What’s been happening “out there” in Web 2.0 world? IT Services’ “burning platform” A new dawn awaits – new strategic directions Concluding thoughts
Disclaimer Everything I’m saying is informed by my employment at Cardiff and the networks I’ve been part of and have involved myself in whether real (ie UCISA) or virtual (egFacebook). Everything I’m saying is a personal view or reflection upon what I’ve learnt or experienced, unless directly attributed to another person or organisation. I’m wholly responsible for the contents of this session; it does not represent the views or policies of either Cardiff University or any other body I’ve been involved with.
Why the need for a disclaimer? Talking sometimes about things outside the “service offering”. Talking about things from a “user-centric” rather than “organisation-centric” point of view. Talking about issues that transcend organisational boundaries. Talking about issues that break the traditional security and privacy models. Talking about different ways of visualising the way Information Services operate. … none of which have any substance in standards, services, or policies … yet!
Personal Web 2.0 Use Documented (September 2009) in my contribution to the “Shared Infrastructure Services Landscape Study”, to be found here http://blogs.cf.ac.uk/diharrison/entry/my_personal_use_of_web Multiple blogs, public and private twitter identities, contributor to many collaborative workspaces … work, social, voluntary Experimenter with geo-location
“Core and chore” on the road in 2009 Joe’s talk to IWMW 2009 http://iwmw2009.wordpress.com/2009/07/29/summary-servicing-core-and-chore/ (video available … allegedly) My talk at EUNIS 2009 (with paper) http://blogs.cf.ac.uk/mwe/entry/the_role_of_the_central
The Edgeless University A perfect storm – economic crisis, user paying for HE - current way of working not sustainable Could be a time for re-birth – open access and online tools offer the means of survival Growing world of informal learning Commitment to openness and collaboration Technology is both a solution and a means to shape the future http://www.demos.co.uk/publications/the-edgeless-university
… and there’s CLEX “In terms of the role of an IT Department in a Web 2.0 world there was general agreement that we need to become facilitators - of people using services which we might not be providing, on a multitude of devices. We also need to be educators - trusted to give advice on technologies and accepting that we will have to listen much more to our users. We need to make sure our infrastructure is robust, resilient and scalable for these technologies to become usable and ubiquitous. For example our wireless network is already struggling to cope with current load. We need to engage and use the technology if we are going to support and help students - but even if we use it, are we going to use it the way that the current generation of teenagers will? And if not, what do we do - employ students?” Chris Sexton: http://cicsdir.blogspot.com/2009/06/it-service-20.html
Higher Education in a Web 2.0 World HE will never be the same again Conflict between the old and the new Impetus for change will come from the students Mediation, mentoring, partnership in the learning process Need to enable informed choice in the matter of tools and support them http://www.jisc.ac.uk/publications/generalpublications/2009/heweb2.aspx
The Horizon Report: 2010 Key Trends Abundance of resources “Martini” working Cloud-based technologies Collaboration is king Critical challenges Role of the institution is changing New models of scholarly endeavour are emerging slowly, but metrics for evaluation lag behind Digital media literacy continues to rise in importance Institutions tend to focus more on key goals when budgets are shrinking Technologies to watch Mobile computing, open content Electronic books, simple augmented reality Gesture-based computing, visual data analysis http://wp.nmc.org/horizon2010/
Ten Principles for the Future of Learning Self-Learning Horizontal Structures From Presumed Authority to Collective Credibility A De-Centered Pedagogy Networked Learning Open Source Education Learning as Connectivity and Interactivity Lifelong Learning Learning Institutions as Mobilizing Networks Flexible Scalability and Simulation http://mitpress.mit.edu/9780262513593
We’re doomed “It’s not just the IT Services department that needs to do the navel-gazing; all service departments have to re-invent themselves, focus on the differentiating activity that they do that adds value to the organisation, and they all need to start looking more holistically towards their service offering from the customer’s perspective. They want assistance with tasks, not the provision of more tools, systems or processes. The silos need to be broken down. The one-stop shop for student services (remember that?) is the tip of an iceberg – and have we developed things more since then? So where does that leave the “services” that IT offers? Well, imho, it means that they have to add value over and above that which can be delivered from the cloud. Decisions have to be made on those services which are little more than utilities, from those that differentiate the service proposition to be one that’s “special”. Moreover, differentiation can be achieved by rationalising the collective service offering. Barriers have to come down. Silos have to crumble. BPM and lean thinking has to sweep through the organisation and common sense has to break out. Not much to ask for then . David Harrison: http://diharrison.wordpress.com/2010/05/20/were-all-doomed/
The web 2.0 university “There is a little doubt in my mind that Web 2.0 will eventually change everything in respect of university education. We have said the same about online learning (VLEs) and access to eResources in the past, but what makes the current situation different is the emergence of communication and collaboration tools that easily and transparently transcend the organisation. With emergence also of Federated Access Management as well you then have a mechanism for federated universities and federated learning. In other words key infrastructural elements are falling into place which provide the means to deliver true open learning and allow the institutions which are fast of foot to establish brands to take advantage of this convergence of capabilities. The Web 2.0 university will be one therefore that consumes, collaborates and communicates - some are better placed to build such a model, others not. The current economic crisis will throw up the new generation and others may not survive as the value they will add will be much less.” David Harrison commenting on: http://efoundations.typepad.com/efoundations/2009/05/the-role-of-universities-in-a-web-20-world.html
Some strategic thinking Your thoughts and comments will be invited – this is the interactive bit – you will collaborate! I’ll be asking questions and I hope you’ll be open enough to answer. Forget your boss is sitting beside you – you may not be as alone as you thought!
1. What kind of IT Service? Envisioning, engagement, enablement and EDUCATION Operating across service department silos Focussing on processes not systems Returning real operating value to the user who is task-focussed And how is support provided?
Support Models (from Gartner)(Chris Sexton, Sheffield) Control orientated Choice orientated Innovation orientated Hands off
Choice orientated Goal is user satisfaction User chooses device Focus on protocols Fewer services Less support
Innovation orientated Empower users to innovate Little direct support Can influence Advise but not enforce
Hands off Take as little responsibility as possible Security and control are zero Apps/services might work, they might not
Which one are you? Do you have “control” tendancies, or are you “hands off”? Which model is best suited to the next generation of users? Which one do you aspire to work in?
2. Mobility, mobility, mobility The user has portable mobile computers at their disposal and they’re not laptops Even the CEO wants an iPhone rather than a BlackBerry? Form a tidy queue for your iPad or v4.0 iPhone “There’s an app for that …” – just explain the security model, don’t try a one-size fits all!
3. Open Source as a Shared Service Open source your time has come … again Shared services are a little bit scary; ceding “control” to someone else – but it makes sense for utility computing – payroll, VLE, etc Plethora of devices, plethora of back-end applications, need for middleware, need for APIs and device drivers, need for device apps Flexible Service Delivery – modules of code, SOA, a swapshop/exchange Back to our roots – collaboration is the key; in HE we have the potential to do this
4. Strategic Federated Access Management If you want “open content” and “networked learning” then FAM (and credible IDMan) must be built into your virtual infrastructure. These are the what I get from the Reports mentioned earlier. It allows you to move into the federated learning space. It’s a thinking thing more than a technological thing – it’s strategic; it points towards the future of your institution – perhaps even its very survival.
5. Collaboration software First-of-all THIS IS ESSENTIAL!!! Doesn’t matter what it is – Sharepoint, Connections, Ning or Jive – you just need to have it. You don’t need to host it – indeed outside the corporate firewall might be better – if you can’t get it shibbolised. Mustn’t be a “walled garden” however; must be able to work with all the other social media tools be able to accommodate OpenSocial, OpenID (or FAM), because a university is not a “walled garden”
6. The workstation and the desktop image Overdue for review; hybrid models need to develop – more than one image Concentration on thin-client to deliver corporate apps through web services often Only locked-down images for administrators Researchers get a skinny image with admin rights to their machines – so that they DON’T need to buy a Mac!
7. In the cloud Your first point of investigation for any utility (ie non-differentiating) application Implementation times fall dramatically New technologies introduced faster More widely accessible; filestore too! Support model changes (see above) The “new” transferrable skills (Google Apps or Live@Edu) for students
8. Buying some time A lag between the present and the need to face budget cuts in the future – what are you going to do with that time? Prioritisation is paramount Cost-cutting or technology co-habitation? What “utility computing” do you do that you could move to the cloud? Need for breathing space – scenario planning
Concluding thoughts - enablement The central IT service needs to focus upon business requirements– what the user wants, not what the service provides Focus shifts to Services and the Front Office (and away from Technology and the Back Office) The Service Desk becomes a focal point for service delivery, and a major corporate system Requirements gathering and recordingis essential and becomes part of the engagement process Solutions generation through incorporating innovation – enablement not development – what’s available “out there” for free (hopefully); NOT we’ll see what we can do internally
Concluding thoughts - partnership Consultancy form of working with Schools and Divisions – away from the central service catalogue and more a shared “catalogue” where we learn from what the users are doing as much as they benefit from what we provide in services Partnership ethos - producing solutions “with the user” rather than “for the user” Emphasis on education rather than training, with the context becoming far more important Embedding new ways of working through Information Literacy++
Concluding thoughts – cultural change Get the “need to change” on the agenda at every opportunity. Organise seminars around the reports I’ve mentioned. Foster attitudes and adopt practices that enable good ideas to progress from inception to implementation Encourage “can do” and “yes of course” ways of thinking Encourage social networks and personal profiles to create new communities of knowledge and understanding to emerge and grow – especially within the organisation Remove barriers to uptake of new tools, but provide clear guidance on what is appropriate use Consider the impact upon work-life balance policies – it can be both liberating and enslaving. We’re not all the same!
Final concluding thoughts Web 2.0 and mobile computing provides a framework for a re-modelling of our work and social lives. Things will never be the same again. Users need protecting against their own foolishness – thus the impotance of EDUCATION cannot be underplayed Institutions should begin to trust their staff and students more but be also prepared to use existing disciplinary codes where the trust is betrayed Must embrace and engage – to do otherwise would be counter-productive and make us look foolish – consider how enablement would work for you Should consider how a partnership model rather than service provider role would work for you, and be customer-centric Must consider where we’re going with work-life balance; for some they want separation – for others they want the flexibility at work that they give to work at home.