How might current and future trends in technology affect educational leadership?

*Originally posted on Learning Exchanges on 13 July 2010.

At DMU’s Leadership and Management Conference, Mike Robinson [Director of ISAS] and I ran a workshop on “How might current and future trends in technology affect leadership at DMU?” The purpose of the session was to enable staff to share aspirations, revisit key trends in the strategic development of institutional IT, and to analyse the development of TEL at DMU as a case study, before identifying key short/medium-term priorities for their teams. The key outcomes raised by the mix of academic and support staff are noted below.

What are your aspirations for your use of technology as a leader?

  • Demands effective leadership that is proactive rather than reactive.
  • Enhanced processes/controls [automation and infrastructure].
  • Integrated management information to inform and support decisions, including finance.
  • Enhanced administration/efficiency of teaching tasks, including distance learning.
  • Improve communication of information, document management.
  • Mobility and remote working.
  • Meeting staff/student expectations.
  • Interest in short-term innovation within a long-term view.

Can you define a short and medium-term priority for your team in utilising technology?

  • Aspirational strategy for DMU, which is suitable and sustainable.
  • Having a typology of technology allows for flexibility/innovation and security/comfort factor for some staff.
  • Culture change away from paper towards the use of data repositories, recorded webinars etc..
  • Joined-up systems/thinking – synergy/seamless..
  • Planning; communications; identify support.
  • Engagement with what is currently available – how can it help me?
  • Feedback from team about what works/needs attention.
  • Developing approaches to Open Educational Resources.
  • Matching possibilities with University procurement and decision-making processes.
  • Develop a knowledge base on non-DMU systems, and contextualisation of use.
  • Training and support.
  • Innovation, investment, resourcing.
  • Open mind, agile and flexible.

Can you identify key barriers to this?

  • Culture change. We are in a faster world, with no space to think, where staff need to be subject specialists and technologically aware. What does this mean for relationships between staff/students/university?
  • Need for enhanced collaboration between services/faculties and the use of champions/pioneers.
  • Top-down strategy and cultural bias that impacts staff fears/increases resistance,
  • IT as a distraction; the need to follow the crowd; buy-in; resistance to change. Speed of change, and lack of engagement/awareness.
  • Better communication about reviews/developments.
  • Lack of support [resources for innovation].
  • Lack of testing of new technology; being wedded to certain providers is restrictive.
  • Sourcing everything from the private sector.
  • Security of the environment.
  • Green fingers – work/teach remotely.

The headlines for me from the session were three-fold, and connect into the work we are undertaking around a vision for TEL at DMU.

  1. Staff focused on a vision for joined-up systems, including access to management information, learning technologies and communications tools, which can enable both effective decision-making/controls and curriculum/work innovation.
  2. Developing a joined-up approach requires staff participation in the development and delivery of a longer-term, aspirational strategy for DMU in engaging with technology. This strategy should help staff innovate in their activity/tasks/work with the tools that they already have at hand in the short-term, so that they are ready to innovate with new tools and to manage change in the longer-term.
  3. Sustainability, in terms of: the curriculum; our human relationships; our data; our infrastructures; our use of energy and natural/manufactured resources; is very important. How we develop “green fingers” in our use of IT is a priority and a responsibility for us all, in developing a resilient higher education.