On the Social Sustainability of Information Systems in Higher Education

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Key Address at EUNIS 2012 (European Conference in Information Systems in Education), 20-22 June 2012

Published in: Education, Technology, Business

On the Social Sustainability of Information Systems in Higher Education

  1. 1. On the Social Sustainability of Information Systems in Higher EducationJune 20-22, 2012EUNIS’12 – A 360º Perspective of IT/IS in Higher EducationUTAD, Vlia Real, Portugal
  2. 2. 1. THE MISSING DIMENSION OF IS/IT IN HIGHER EDUCATION 2. FROM INDUSTRY TO HIGHER EDUCATION 3. THE WEBERIAN IRON CAGE OF HIGHER EDUCATION 4. BACK TO THE MISSING DIMENSION 5. THE DESIGN CHALLENGES 6. CONCLUSIONS
  3. 3. 1. THE MISSING DIMENSION OF IS/IT IN HIGHER EDUCATION 2. FROM INDUSTRY TO HIGHER EDUCATION 3. THE WEBERIAN IRON CAGE OF HIGHER EDUCATION 4. BACK TO THE MISSING DIMENSION 5. THE DESIGN CHALLENGES 6. CONCLUSIONS
  4. 4. 1. THE MISSING DIMENSION OF IS/IT IN HIGHER EDUCATION What is the Missing Dimension in Information Systems in Higher Education?
  5. 5. 1. THE MISSING DIMENSION OF IS/IT IN HIGHER EDUCATION What is the Missing Dimension in Information Systems in Higher Education? PEOPLE
  6. 6. 1. THE MISSING DIMENSION OF IS/IT IN HIGHER EDUCATION 2. FROM INDUSTRY TO HIGHER EDUCATION 3. THE WEBERIAN IRON CAGE OF HIGHER EDUCATION 4. BACK TO THE MISSING DIMENSION 5. THE DESIGN CHALLENGES 6. CONCLUSIONS
  7. 7. 2. FROM INDUSTRY TO HIGHER EDUCATIONHigher Education has been adopting the key management practices of the corporate world: •  Management •  Strategy •  Quality Management •  Information Systems •  IT Governance
  8. 8. 2. FROM INDUSTRY TO HIGHER EDUCATION In many cases, however, it has been doing it with: •  much delay •  out-dated practicesCORPORATE WORLD 50s 60s 70s 80s 90s 00s 10sHIGHER EDUCATION 50s 60s 70s 80s 90s 00s 10s
  9. 9. 2. FROM INDUSTRY TO HIGHER EDUCATION Higher Education Corporate World classical management: modern management:Management control, repeatability, culture, commitment, people as replaceable parts people as knowledge workers analytical, centralized projective, collective, Strategy and reactive and transformativeHigher Education has moved directly The corporate world has moved from from ad hoc management to bureaucratic and mechanistic bureaucratic management management to organic and ecological It is increasingly emphasizing management, and sees people control, and forgetting people as the most valuable asset
  10. 10. 2. FROM INDUSTRY TO HIGHER EDUCATION Higher Education Corporate World quality control, quality quality management, Quality assurance, accountability quality as transformation (mechanistic process) (social process) Information SystemsIT Governance Quality as reaction to audits, Quality by design, essentially summative closely linked to strategy
  11. 11. 2. FROM INDUSTRY TO HIGHER EDUCATION THE  QUALITY  MOVEMENT  IN  INDUSTRY  Before  1900   Quality  as  an  integral  element  of  the  cra7  1900-­‐1920   Quality  control  by  foreman  1920-­‐1940   Inspec>on-­‐based  quality-­‐control  1940-­‐1960   Sta>s>cal  process  control   Higher Education 20121960-­‐1980   Quality  assurance  (quality  department)  1980-­‐1990   Total  quality  management  (TQM)  1990-­‐Present   Culture  of  con>nuous  improvement,  organiza>on-­‐wide  TQM   Involvement of (Adapted from Sallis, E. (1996). Total Quality Management in Education, 2nd Ed. London: Kogan Page) all personnel
  12. 12. 2. FROM INDUSTRY TO HIGHER EDUCATIONISO 9000 - European Quality Award (EQA), 1992 European Foundation for Quality Management people satisfaction of management collaborators (9%) (9%) policy & results of the leadership processes satisfaction strategy whole activity (10%) (14%) of students (15%) (8%) (20%) resources impact on (9%) society (6%)
  13. 13. 2. FROM INDUSTRY TO HIGHER EDUCATIONISO 9000 - European Quality Award (EQA), 1992 European Foundation for Quality Management people satisfaction of management collaborators (9%) (9%) policy & results of the leadership processes satisfaction strategy whole activity (10%) (14%) of students (15%) (8%) (20%) resources impact on (9%) society (6%)
  14. 14. 2. FROM INDUSTRY TO HIGHER EDUCATION BALDRIGE CRITERIA (USA)
  15. 15. 2. FROM INDUSTRY TO HIGHER EDUCATION Higher Education Corporate World quality control, quality quality management, Quality assurance, accountability quality as transformation (mechanistic process) (social process) Information information systems as information systems Systems bureaucratic systems as social systems lower maturity, higher maturity, increasingIT Governance ignores social nature sensitivity to social nature Quality as reaction to audits, Quality by design, essentially summative closely linked to strategy
  16. 16. 1. THE MISSING DIMENSION OF IS/IT IN HIGHER EDUCATION 2. FROM INDUSTRY TO HIGHER EDUCATION 3. THE WEBERIAN IRON CAGE OF HIGHER EDUCATION 4. BACK TO THE MISSING DIMENSION 5. THE DESIGN CHALLENGES 6. CONCLUSIONS
  17. 17. 3. THE WEBERIAN iRON CAGE OF HIGHER EDUCATION Max Weber introduced the sociological concept of ‘iron cage’ to describethe rationalization of the industrial societies of the late 19th and early 20th centuries that imprisoned people in bureaucracies of technical efficiency, rational calculation and control
  18. 18. 3. THE WEBERIAN iRON CAGE OF HIGHER EDUCATION The promotion of quality and comparability across universities in the face of tightening budgets and increased competition has led to an identical bureaucratization of Higher Education: •  increased coordination•  growth of power of central administration
  19. 19. 3. THE WEBERIAN iRON CAGE OF HIGHER EDUCATION This is being described as: •  the neoliberal vision of higher education •  the market ideology informing higher education •  the replacement of innovation by accounting •  the short-sighted interpretation of comparisons between universities
  20. 20. 3. THE WEBERIAN iRON CAGE OF HIGHER EDUCATION
  21. 21. 3. THE WEBERIAN iRON CAGE OF HIGHER EDUCATION
  22. 22. 3. THE WEBERIAN iRON CAGE OF HIGHER EDUCATION
  23. 23. 3. THE WEBERIAN iRON CAGE OF HIGHER EDUCATION
  24. 24. 3. THE WEBERIAN iRON CAGE OF HIGHER EDUCATION
  25. 25. 3. THE WEBERIAN iRON CAGE OF HIGHER EDUCATION
  26. 26. 3. THE WEBERIAN iRON CAGE OF HIGHER EDUCATION This Weberian pyramid of higher education, where everyone has a position to fill and a role to play is driving out of the academic ranks some of the more promising scientists and academic staff who do not want to work and live in an ‘iron cage’
  27. 27. 3. THE WEBERIAN iRON CAGE OF HIGHER EDUCATION
  28. 28. 1. THE MISSING DIMENSION OF IS/IT IN HIGHER EDUCATION 2. FROM INDUSTRY TO HIGHER EDUCATION 3. THE WEBERIAN IRON CAGE OF HIGHER EDUCATION 4. BACK TO THE MISSING DIMENSION 5. THE DESIGN CHALLENGES 6. CONCLUSIONS
  29. 29. 4. BACK TO THE MISSING DIMENSIONThe strategic analysis that underlies thespecification of the information systems is conducted within this bureaucratic mind-set about higher education It concentrates on short term visions led by cost and efficiency factors and systematically ignores people
  30. 30. 4. BACK TO THE MISSING DIMENSION This leads to: •  bureaucratic task models forced upon the users (namely faculty)•  poorly structured workflows for collecting data from the users (namely faculty) •  lack of concern with user experience •  unsatisfactory usability
  31. 31. 4. BACK TO THE MISSING DIMENSION Information Systems are, thus, part of the problem
  32. 32. 4. BACK TO THE MISSING DIMENSION Can Information Systems be part of the solution? YES by being conceived with PEOPLE in mind
  33. 33. 1. THE MISSING DIMENSION OF IS/IT IN HIGHER EDUCATION 2. FROM INDUSTRY TO HIGHER EDUCATION 3. THE WEBERIAN IRON CAGE OF HIGHER EDUCATION 4. BACK TO THE MISSING DIMENSION 5. THE DESIGN CHALLENGES 6. CONCLUSIONS
  34. 34. 5. THE DESIGN CHALLENGES THE DESIGN CHALLENGES FOR IS/IT IN HIGHER EDUCATION The social nature of IS/IT solutions in Higher Education must be taken into account fromthe very beginning and through all the stages of the IT/IS lifecycle
  35. 35. 5. THE DESIGN CHALLENGES DESIGN AS A PARTNERSHIP The design, management, and enhancement of the IS should be seen as a partnership between: •  stakeholdersTraditional visions of IT Governance refer to business-IT alignment, •  business/management ignoring the existence of human stakeholders •  technology
  36. 36. 5. THE DESIGN CHALLENGESPRINCIPLE OF SUSTAINABLE PARTNERSHIP For a partnership to be sustainable it must fulfil in permanence the interests and motivations of all the parts. If one of the parts feels it is losing, the partnership breaks down. Each part must make sure that all the other parts are happy with the partnership.
  37. 37. 5. THE DESIGN CHALLENGES The common agreement that matches the interests of all the parts is known as the value proposition. The clarification of the value proposition requires that all the parts, and therelationships between them, be identified and the value for each part fully recognized.
  38. 38. 5. THE DESIGN CHALLENGES The sustainability of the value proposition can be established and monitored at allstages of the Information System’s lifecycle with the help of social theories such as ACTOR NETWORK THEORY
  39. 39. 5. THE DESIGN CHALLENGES Some important current dimensions of the IS/IT domain, such as: IT GOVERNANCESERVICE SCIENCE, ENGINEERING AND DESIGN which were mostly technical in their origins are now becoming increasingly sensitive to the social nature of IS/IT
  40. 40. 5. THE DESIGN CHALLENGESbut some dark clouds could be looming in the horizon
  41. 41. ACADEMIC ANALYTICS which can be an invaluable tool at the service of strategy and management in higher education can also have catastrophicimplications, if used against social values and expectations of people
  42. 42. 1. THE MISSING DIMENSION OF IS/IT IN HIGHER EDUCATION 2. FROM INDUSTRY TO HIGHER EDUCATION 3. THE WEBERIAN IRON CAGE OF HIGHER EDUCATION 4. BACK TO THE MISSING DIMENSION 5. THE DESIGN CHALLENGES 6. CONCLUSIONS
  43. 43. 6. CONCLUSIONSInformation Systems in Higher Education can and should be •  sociable •  socially sustainable
  44. 44. 6. CONCLUSIONS For that to happen they must be designed with thesocial nature of Higher Education in mind and make invisible to the users the bureaucratic needs of management They should make people’s lives better: not worse
  45. 45. 6. CONCLUSIONS Finally, they should be audited for compliance withthe original concerns of Quality in Higher Education: people satisfaction of management collaborators (9%) (9%) policy & results of the leadership processes satisfaction strategy whole activity (10%) (14%) of students (15%) (8%) (20%) resources impact on (9%) society (6%)
  46. 46. 6. CONCLUSIONS Shouldn’t information systems be up to thequality of the academic environment they are supposed to support?
  47. 47. THE END On the Social Sustainability of Information Systems in Higher Education The slides will be made available at: http://www.slideshare.net/adfigueiredoJune 20-22, 2012EUNIS’12 – A 360º Perspective of IT/IS in Higher EducationUTAD, Vlia Real, Portugal

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