Everywhere I went on the vendor floor companies were talking about how their platforms facilitate measurable outcome based improvements in learning and/or retention (Casey's LMS 3.0 extended to other e-learning tools), and each session touched on the gap between the needs of learners and the increasingly constrained resourced available to meet these needs.
Green captured the twin themes of constrained resource / increased demands and the potential for data driven (evidence based) decision making (made possible by new and newly integrated tools) to meet these challenges.
The need to focus our individual and institutional energies on our core mission (again, made necessary by constrained resources and made possible by analytics) aligns with Jim Collins' message that institutions fail not by becoming complacent by by over-reaching. His excellent opening general session presentation  left us all motivated to start making our "stop doing" list and to re-double our efforts to have our "to do" lists reflect our institutions core values. We need our e-learning tools and platforms not to help us to do more, but to do what better what is really important. LMS 3.0.
Diana Oblinger, in a wonderful presentation on the future of higher education,  illustrated in great detail just how large the gap is between the need for higher education and our available supply. Higher education must find a way to increase our productivity, through finding economic models to educate more people for less money and insuring our existing students receive both degrees and relevant training, as additional resources are unlikely to flow to post-secondary education. Technology can be the lever to increase this productivity, part of which will entail the provision of learning opportunities outside of the traditional campus.
Measurable increases in productivity is the story that vendors are trying to tell the conference. The story of many of the sessions is that we will be required to do more with less. My plan for Thursday is to try and figure out which companies represent at EDUCAUSE 09 have a value proposition capable of meeting this challenges, put another way I'm trying to understand what ed. tech. companies actually allow us to do more, saves more, and facilitates the measurement of both.
These are big challenges - what Jim Collins called a BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goal). Even communicating how your platform, product or service meets these goals is a huge challenge. But as Casey points out in the LMS space, the companies that meet this challenge will thrive. What companies, products, or services would you nominate to have the potentially disruptive ability to do more and save money by leveraging the power of analytics? Put another way, what companies that you have spent time with at the conference are effectively telling these stories and demonstrating their potential with real products and customers as opposed to slideware?