5 Questions for EDUCAUSE 2014

What are you thinking about as you prepare for the Big Conference?

September 25, 2014

Are you attending EDUCAUSE 2014 in Orlando next week? Physically or virtually?

Why are you going? What are you hoping to learn?

Here are my top 5 questions that I’ll be looking to answer at EDUCAUSE:

Question 1: What is the big story at EDUCAUSE this year?

When I see you at the conference this is the question that I will be asking you. Past big stories have been about the finances going in the toilet, and then the finances starting to come out of the toilet. We have seen big stories about the move from products to services, the cloud tipping point, and the rise of learning analytics and big data.  If I had to guess, I’d say the big story at EDUCAUSE 2014 will be learning and the learner.  I think we will talk more about learning theory than technology or money.  

Question 2:  Who will be the breakthrough vendor?

The last couple of years of EDUCAUSE I think have belonged to Instructure. Instructure perfectly timed a growing comfort with the LMS as a service with a general dissatisfaction with LMS incumbents.  Last year I also saw lots of buzz around the learning analytics providers and the media management platform players. TechSmith always generates a loyal following. And Pearson made a splash (what 3 years ago) with its free OpenClass LMS.  The McGraw-Hill purchase of Tegrity and the growing footprint of Echo360 were big stories in previous years. The emergence of Workday, the cloud based SIS, was big news last year and might be even bigger news this year if they start to get real traction.  Which vendor do you think will have the most buzz at EDUCAUSE this year?  

Question 3:  Will the big publishing companies (finally) tell a coherent and compelling story?

I hope that this is the year that big publishing gets us excited about what they are up to.  Maybe this will be in the area of learning analytics, adaptive learning platforms, and the provision of online learning services.  Perhaps we will finally see evidence that the publishers have a business plan to move beyond paper textbook adoption that matches their rhetoric.  I hope that the publishers are able to tell stories about partnerships that enabled schools to increase revenues, save money, and improve student learning outcomes.  I hope that they are able to have their academic partners tell that story.

Question 4:  What will be the big edtech acquisition?

We have a fragmented edtech vendor ecosystem. We have too many players, and too little integration. An all-too-common lack of common standards and open systems leads to the risk of vendor lock-in, which leads to paralysis.  Schools are left to do the hard work of integrating multiple platforms. Long sell cycles make it difficult for even the best companies to operate in the higher ed tech space.  We are overdue for an edtech rollup.  I’ve been predicting for years that the media creation vendors will combine with the media management vendors.  That Adobe would buy TechSmith (although I doubt TechSmith is interested).  That an Echo360 will buy other lecture capture and classroom response vendors (Panopto and Top Hat come to mind), and that everyone will be interested in Kaltura / ShareStream / Ensemble / MediaSilo. I would not be surprised by a big publisher edtech acquisition,  or Microsoft making a strategic investment in learning analytics. I hope we have some big news in the edtech acquisition world next week.  What do you think it might be?

Question 5:  What Will Casey Green tell us in his Campus Computing 2014 presentation?

Mark your calendars.  Wednesday, 10/1 at 1:30pm in Meeting Room W204. Casey’s presentation is always the highlight of EDUCAUSE, and it gets better every year.  As Casey is fond of saying, in God we trust: all others bring data. Casey brings the data on the key IT trends and priorities, as well as an interpretive style that is equal parts wise and provocative.  

What are your top questions and your big goals going into EDUCAUSE 2014?


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