EdTech Platform Change

A quickening pace.

November 5, 2013

Look around at your campus edtech platforms.

It is a good bet that in 4 years these platforms will all have changed.

In the past it seemed like our edtech platforms stuck around forever. We were slow to choose because we knew we’d be slow to change. We worried about switching costs, about the pain for faculty and students in moving from one system to another. We talked about the opportunity costs in lost time to engage on course design and development if we would be forced to teach faculty how to use the new systems.

Things are different now.

We understand that an edtech platform that requires a workshop to teach how to use is probably not a great platform.

We have the experience of learning how to use an iPad or a Kindle or an Android phone without ever reading a users manual.

Where in the past switching costs were high because of the need to install and test software locally on data center, today we are more likely to consume our edtech platforms as a service from the cloud.

Perhaps we are more wary and more disciplined around customizations. Rather than make our platforms perfect, or have them work with all of our local use cases, we are living with plain vanilla implementations. This “simple first” strategy makes it easier to integrate cloud based platforms with our local infrastructure (such as authentication or backups), and therefore easier to switch.

Like many other edtech trends, the move to a more rapid pace of edtech platforms has been led by the LMS market. Suddenly, changing our campus LMS seems like less of a daunting task and more of a reasonable undertaking. This is partly a result of new cloud based offerings (Canvas being the most noticeable, but every major LMS vendor offers some flavor of hosting if not true SaaS), and partly as a result of a shift in our thinking. We are maturing as profession to where we understand to look more towards future gains and benefits, and to not worry so much about costs that are already sunk

What will follow the LMS as edtech platforms that we are willing to make wholesale changes?

Lecture capture platforms would be one candidate.

Media management platforms could be another.

You may change your e-mail / calendar cloud provider.

Storage and backup vendors will almost certainly be different in four years.

Your synchronous classroom / meeting tools will be up for grabs.

The last holdout will be your campus SIS (student information system), but eventually these platforms will migrate to the cloud and eventually they will also see shorter campus tenures.

The growing rapidity in edtech platform turnover is a dual-edged sword for both edtech vendors and academic technology departments.

Edtech vendors will need to spend more resources on customer retention than ever before. If every customer is up for grabs then every company will need to work much harder to find and keep each client. Opportunities and risks abound.

For academic technology departments the speeding up of edtech platform change will mean that we are constantly in a state of flux. Change will not be stepwise but constant. We will always be evaluating, always piloting, always testing, and always migrating. We will need to be more aware of the options in the marketplace, and more disciplined in how we deploy and shift our services.

What edtech platforms are you in the middle of changing?


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