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EDUCAUSE 2011: 6 Things on My Mind
October 10, 2011 - 9:00pm

EDUCAUSE 2011 in Philadelphia is a week away! Are you going? What do you want to get out of the conference? What do you hope to learn? What's on your mind?

Some things that are on my mind as I prepare for EDUCAUSE 2011:

1 - The LMS:

This could be a very interesting EDUCAUSE when it comes to the learning management system. I'll be looking to see how Blackboard is positioning itself to move from a provider of products to a provider of services and solutions. I anticipate lots of action at the Instructure Canvas booth, with many people taking a hard look at this new LMS provider. Will D2L and the Moodle vendors be able to translate their value proposition into a compelling narrative? Will new business models for the LMS spark our curiosity?

2 - Google and Microsoft:

Each year I go to EDUCAUSE hoping that this is the year that Google or Microsoft decide that this is the year that they will disrupt higher ed. Both of these companies are somewhat unique in that they have the scope, wealth, footprint and smart people necessary to make higher ed bets big enough to change the landscape. Each year I hope to meet people at Google and Microsoft who are fully and solely focused on higher education, who sit on the strategic leadership team, and who have the mandate (and an open checkbook) necessary to position themselves as education companies (the great 21st century opportunity) in the 21st century. Each year I leave disappointed. Maybe 2011 will be different.

3 - Lecture Capture:

Class capture is now standard educational procedure for medium to large lecture courses at our institutions. Providing our students with recordings of lecture classes has moved, I think, into the realm of a moral educational imperative. The benefits of being able to review lecture notes for many of our learners, and for many of our students who must miss class for athletics or illness, are too clear cut to ignore. Students expect, or should expect, that they will be able to review the lectures from medium to large classes. And lecture capture technology can power all sorts of innovations in teaching and learning, from enabling blended learning to the technologies ability to invert the classroom - with pre-recorded learning chunks that are previewed before class - making room for great class discussion and focus on difficult topics.

So this year I'll be looking to see two things: a) Which lecture capture provider seems to be consolidating its position in the marketplace (and which vendors are becoming less relevant. b) Which schools have made lecture capture ubiquitous and/or used this platform to creatively move teaching and learning forward. On the vendor side, I'm anticipating that ECHO360 will increasingly be viewed as the quality play, as adoptions for this company grow quickly. It will be interesting to see how McGraw-Hill has capitalized on the Tegrity purchase, and if Tegrity can demonstrate a clear value proposition advantage around this new ownership structure. Will Panopto evolve its business model and platform solutions to adapt to the new realities of the marketplace? Will the OpenCast products finally get any traction? And will Adobe finally realize that they need to get into this game, and try to purchase one of the lecture capture vendors who have a presence at EDUCAUSE?

4 - The Publishers:

Going into EDUCAUSE 2011 I'm more encouraged than ever before about the future of the EDU publishers. My thinking about the publishers has evolved as I've gotten to know the people who run Pearson. The EDU publishers have a limited window in which they can re-invent themselves from providers of textbooks to providers of digital services and content. The leadership at Pearson clearly understands both the opportunity and threat of an education ecosystem dominated by digital files and mobile platforms, and is determined to make the necessary investments (in both acquisitions and cultural change) to make this pivot. But the history of large companies reinventing themselves for the digital economy is not that great, with perhaps IBM being the only example that quickly comes to mind of a success. I'm hoping that the big 3 publishers announce some big moves and acquisitions and EDUCAUSE, and that the leadership of these publishers are able to articulate new business models. We shall see.

5 - Roll-Ups, Acquisitions, and Start-Ups:

I'm excited for the new Start-Up Alley on the exhibitor hall. Which start-up will catch our eye? What big acquisition announcements will be made. Last year the big news was a publisher (McGraw-Hill) buying a lecture capture provider (Tegrity). Will media management companies such as Sharestream or Ensemble be in play? It has been clear to me for a while that TechSmith and Kaltura are both essential components of a full-service educational services provider, although I have no idea if either company is interested in being acquired. Someone is going to make a good deal of money on Instructure. What company will we find at EDUCAUSE that we think is worth investing?

6 - Money:

The thread that I'm looking to make sense of at EDUCAUSE 2011 is how technology can catalyze increased revenues and drive down costs. In the sessions I'm hoping to see presenters talk about dollars and cents, how much was earned, how much was spent, and how much was saved. Give us the dollar figures. We need to get comfortable talking about money and technology in the breath, and find safe places where we can have discussions and share what we have learned. Educational technology is entering an era where improved quality is not enough. Technology needs to be the mechanism for increased productivity.

Perhaps the answer will come in bringing traditional face-to-face courses to universal blended-learning delivery, allowing for increased enrollments as we make better use of fixed (high-cost) classroom and lab spaces. Maybe the world's of executive education and online learning will come together, creating opportunities to serve new markets and bring in additional revenues. Or perhaps we will start taking advantage of the consumer technologies, technologies that have driven down the costs for tech start-ups, in our academic operations. Money, opportunities to save it and make it, will be much on my mind at EDUCAUSE 2011.

Where is your head at as you prepare for EDUCAUSE 2011?

 

 

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