What’s Ahead for Higher Education?

Adrian Sannier, vice president of product at Pearson eCollege, and Mark Sarver, CEO of EduKan, will be kicking off WCET”S 23rd Annual Conference, in Denver, CO on October 26-29.  The duo will present about the future of technology in higher education, where it’s headed and how we will get there.  Both are clever, witty, and engaging.  The following guest blog provides a glimpse of what they will discuss at the conference on Thursday, October 26 in their keynote presentation, “What’s Ahead for Higher Education?”

Over the past 20 years, the Digital Shift has transformed whole industries. Manufacturing — with its clean, robotic, automated plants creating products designed on computers — is a distant cousin to Henry Fords human intensive assembly line. Modern banking — with its ATMs, online banks and Mortgage websites — bears little resemblance to the teller’s window that characterized banks for decades. Media businesses — music, movies, photography, and now television and books — all have been drastically altered by the introduction of digital creation, distribution and consumption.

Image of a lecture hall

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Through all the digital shifts in these other industries, education has remained relatively unchanged. Despite prognostications that the DigitalShift in education was just around the corner, classrooms are still familiar.  As early as the 1970 report by The Carnagie Commission, and every year since, technology promised but failed to transform education.

We invite you to join us in Denver, CO at the WCET Annual Conference, October 26-29, 2011 to explore the idea that after all these decades, and all these false alarms, the time for change is finally upon us. The confluence of mobile ubiquity, affordable broadband, kindle success and iPad magic has created a climate for change. Accepting that premise, we propose that — just as in other industries that have gone digital — their will be innovators and laggards along a variety of dimensions. In our general session talk, “What’s Ahead for Higher Education”  on Thursday, October 27,  we want to explore what will categorize innovators and laggards with respect to a variety of different axes of opportunity.

Adrian Sannier, vice president of product at Pearson eCollege

Mark Sarver, CEO of EduKan

Twitter: #wcet11


  1. Posted August 24, 2011 at 8:51 am | Permalink | Reply

    We are like children crying wolf. All university presidents know that, as Adrian and Mark’s blog points out, we have been predicting technology driven transformation since at least 1970 (public television was doing the same in the 60s).

    I tell my president that we oversold technology back then, but we are not overselling it now. We both have a good chuckle.

    My question to Mark and Adrian is, What is different this time? I do not believe yet another generation of technology will do it. Something more fundamental has to change within the academy. What is that change and is it happening?

  2. Elizabeth
    Posted August 23, 2011 at 9:37 am | Permalink | Reply

    This should be a great discussion. I’ve been watching change in higher education since 1966. Most of the changes are good: better access for all, creativity, focus on student learning, accountability, etc. But one change is bad and it comes, I think, with the demographics of a much larger higher education “market.” That change is that we are losing our shared value of “higher learning” in the humanities, in scientific thinking, in creativity, and other higher order affects of the human mind. We are so focused on the vocational, the utilitarian, the competitive, that we have fallen behind in the quality of American higher education that sets us apart from all others.

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