Leading academic CIO Lev Gonick recently gave a talk on what he called “12 tech trends higher education cannot afford to ignore“. It’s well worth the read for anyone interested in education and technology.
I agree with most of these trends, including social media and mobile devices (subjects I’ve written and spoken about). Lev’s right to address big data and what he calls next-generation networks. And kudos to him for pushing his campus networks out to the local community, an all-too-rare move.
Note his point about changes to learning spaces, both in terms of pedagogy (flipped classrooms) and design. These are major changes in the teaching operation. CAOs (deans, provosts) should be as on top of this as Lev the CIO.
But look at the list again. What’s missing? What should we add to this masterly account?
Rich multimedia is a major trend. Streamed, torrented, or downloaded, video in particular places enormous demands on networks, obviously a headache for those in charge of an institution’s networks. Rich multimedia also requires on-campus support, including hardware, software, spaces (labs, audio recording areas), training, and academic integration. Audio and video also have a large potential impact on teaching, from synchronous video chat to digital storytelling.
I do take issue with Lev’s first trend, “The Death of Personal Computers“. The end of the PC can be overstated. While mobile devices (excluding the laptop, weirdly) can fulfill many PC functions, significant ones are not being met. Substantial writing is hard for many people to do without a keyboard, for instance. Microsoft Office remains a workhorse for a large number of users, and while the web office idea (Google Apps, primarily) has made progress, Microsoft’s suite tends to require a laptop or desktop. Larger games fit the PC environment better than they do handhelds. And video editing is more powerful and/or easier on laptops and desktops.
Consider Steve Jobs’ famous PC-as-truck metaphor. While not every driver requires a truck, trucks remain popular and widely used in certain regions and for quite a few functions. Think of rural areas, or the American south. Trucks – PCs – will not die, but remain a vital part of a broader hardware ecosystem.
Also missing from the trend matrix is open: open content, open access scholarship, open learning, etc. The energies behind this movement continue to produce content, products, and expanding audience. The University of California system’s announcement about publishing faculty research through open access repositories is just the latest example of this rising curve.
So: rich multimedia, open, and the post-PC era. What other trends would you add to this picture, or question?