Friday, February 3, 2012

A Degree Completion Solution that's a 'Quick Win', made possible by 'Rapid Response', and 'Adrenaline Inducing', but not from Central IT

I have been following the MyEdu partnership with the University of Texas System because it is an example of the new competition that central IT organizations face in our many-to-many, decentralized world. Regents, chancellors, presidents, and CFOs are no longer dependent upon central IT as the sole provider of IT services for their institutions. Degree completion is one of the biggest strategic opportunities for increased alignment between IT and the academic mission of our institutions. If your central IT organization isn't ready to provide 'quick wins' and engage in 'rapid response' to produce 'adrenaline inducing' IT solutions, sit back and watch your campus leadership shift their investments to private sector competitors who can.

Several months ago an editorial by former governors Jeb Bush and Jim Hunt in Inside Higher Education discussed how technological innovation has created new opportunities for a more efficient and scalable model for higher education. One passage in this piece caught my eye.

"Setting up the technology needed to deliver high-quality instruction is daunting, but it is a challenge that can be easily managed using the right resources. We believe the answer is public/private partnerships, which was the approach taken by the University of Texas System when many of its campuses decided to start moving courses online. Partnerships like theirs allow the university to maintain control of the content, instructional materials, and admissions standards, while leaving the implementation to the experts. (emphasis added)"

Something tells me that Governor Bush and Governor Hunt were not talking about central IT organizations when talking about "the experts". That poses the question why? What is it about the way central IT organizations conduct business that suggests to our leaders that we can not be counted on for strategic solutions that are timely and innovative? While thinking about that, here's another question to ponder: how would you have responded if your president came to you and offered to invest $10 million in your organization to produce a cutting-edge solution to our degree completion challenges? Would your response have inspired confidence that your organization is up to the challenge?

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