This EDUCAUSE Conference has felt different from all the rest, and the reason I think is Gates Foundation Next Generation Learning Challenges.
This is the first EDUCAUSE Conference that I've attended where there is a real feeling of confidence that information technology can be the lever for structural change in our higher ed system.
What are the challenges being discussed?
I'm going to shamelessly steal from a presentation done by Josh Jarrett, Senior Program Officer in Education, Postsecondary Success at the Gates Foundation. Josh sent me this presentation, and as soon as I have a link I'll share it in a future blog.
In his presentation, Josh lays our four challenges for the next decade:
- Stagnant ~40% AA+ attainment levels
- Middle skill job demand
- Low completion rates
- State budget cuts
- Limits to student and family ability to pay and to borrow
- Increasing diversity
- Low academic readiness
- "Non-traditional" new normal
- "Islands of Innovation"
- Fragmented decision making and incentives
The real power of the Gates Next Generation Learning Challenge is not the money, although that helps, but the ability to focus the problems in higher education around a defined set of issues. Gates has us all speaking the same language.
In talking with Cameron Evans (Microsoft), Ray Henderson (Blackboard), and Don Kilburn (Pearson), the conversation kept coming back to the role that their companies can play in addressing the issues that have been identified by Gates.
Leadership from technology, LMS, and publishing companies are now all focused on utilizing the power of their companies to work on the specific issues that the Next Generation Learning Challenges are designed to address.
This is different. Gates and the Next Generation Learning Challenge has changed the conversation - and I think that this new conversation is the big story to come out of EDUCAUSE 2010.
Have yo been having similar conversations?
What do you think is the big story to come out of EDUCAUSE 2010?