Information Technology Services


Date of this Version


Document Type



EDUCAUSE review, SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2013, pp. 114-115


© 2013 Mark Askren


Although MOOCs have received the most attention in higher education this year, another issue is affecting colleges and universities and the IT community on a much broader scale: the perception that the higher education business model is “broken.” This isn’t an IT problem by definition, but IT leaders have not contributed effectively to a solution. At least not yet. So what can we, as IT leaders, do individually and collectively to change the outcome? The answer is clear. We have to collaborate. Substantially. And in ways that are far-reaching and very challenging. We have to change our core processes and our default approach, and we have to take some calculated risks. Our institutions, and perhaps our IT community, have largely resisted these changes to this point. Something has to give, and that something is our very expensive cultural heritage of maintaining uniqueness where it doesn’t matter. I am sure that any IT leader who has implemented an ERP system in his/her career is quite familiar with the situation where customizations are needed because “This is the way we do things at our institution, and it would be too difficult/impossible/expensive to change.” We’re not talking here about processes that distinguish an institution from competitors or that help an institution take important steps toward meeting its full potential. Instead we are often referring to core processes that are critical but that don’t require—or even benefit from—being unique.