I spent most of last week in Coolongatta at the CAUDIT-Educause Institute 2009. For those unfamiliar with the terms, CAUDIT is the Council of Australian Universities Directors of Information Technology and Educause is the peak body promoting intelligent use of information technology in higher education. The Institute has run annually in Australia since 2002 and is based on a similar institute that runs twice a year in the US. It is ‘designed as a professional development program for those who manage some aspect of information technology and resources in higher education, whether within their department or for the entire institution‘.
I have to say up front that I enjoyed it immensely. It was great to meet people from universities across Australia and New Zealand to meet the Faculty all of whom hold senior positions at universities in Australia, New Zealand and the US. The content was well presented and and it was extremely well organised. What struck me though was the discussion with other attendees about the problems facing their institutions. Now maybe it’s me but they generally seemed focussed on short term issues. There was little consideration of the medium to long term by which I mean three to ten years. Now I know it’s a challenge to be thinking about issues that far out out, particularly given the fluid nature of the economic, technical and legislative environments but it seems to me that some pretty big things are happening at the moment. These issues could well mean that it is not ‘business as usual’ in a few years time. There was very little mention of the challenge of open education, I was the only one that mentioned changing the delivery model and I had to explain the concept of edupunk even though this has been around for a while now (although maybe not known by that term) and is only going to grow. As it does it will be a big issue (maybe a blessing) for University IT Departments.
So I’m left with the question; is it me? I tend to follow the blogs and tweets of people with similar view points to me but these represent a small segment of the continuum. It’s a little bit unnerving meeting people who, while maybe not expressing an opposing point of view, haven’t thought it important enough to consider at all. I’m often left wondering who, if anyone, is considering these things at our universities or is everybody bogged down in the messy lowlands of practice as Donald Schön might have described it. Are we just re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic at the moment?