Dx: Preparing for the Impact on Higher Ed Culture, Workforce, and Technology

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EDUCAUSE has launched an initiative to explore what digital transformation means for higher education and how the association can help colleges and universities understand and prepare for the evolutions it brings.

Dx: Preparing for the Impact on Higher Ed Culture, Workforce, and Technology
Credit: 13_Phunkod / Shutterstock © 2018

Digital transformation (Dx) is having a profound impact across many industries. In higher education it is leading to an accelerating evolution of the higher ed institution and of IT's place within it. In early 2018, EDUCAUSE convened nine IT leaders with a wide variety of perspectives within higher education to consider digital transformation and its impact on higher education. Over several meetings throughout the year this Task Force on Digital Transformation discussed what Dx means for higher education and what EDUCAUSE can do to help higher ed IT leaders understand and embrace it in a way that positions them to provide leadership for their own institutions' efforts in this evolution. This task force had two goals:

  1. Develop a definition of digital transformation appropriate to higher education that can be used across EDUCAUSE programs and offerings.
  2. Issue recommendations for how EDUCAUSE can help its members understand the importance of digital transformation and position their institutions to move forward with it in areas such as the IT organization and leadership, workforce and staffing, and analytics.

Through many conversations and a series of rich discussions, the task force developed a report that includes a definition of digital transformation that describes "a cultural, technology, and workforce shift…with the expected outcomes of new business models, improved student outcomes, different teaching and learning methods, and new research capabilities."

IT has a unique opportunity to participate in institutional transformation, potentially bringing to the table both strategy—though a vision of new digital possibilities—and technology, with the ability to build and maintain the technology ecosystem and architecture required to enable that vision. The pace of change is increasing dramatically, and it is through thoughtful use of that intersection of strategy and technology that institutions will be able to adapt and evolve. By considering digital transformation, an institution can focus on that intersection and then shape digital architecture, applications, campus organizations, workforce, and staffing to achieve strategic goals. By helping the institution through this evolution, IT will evolve as well, moving into a role of trusted advisor and strategic partner, intrinsic to the institution's strategic mission and goals.

The task force findings, available in their report, suggest a set of recommendations for how EDUCAUSE can help its members navigate through the foreseen shift in the three major areas of impacts—culture, technology, and workforce. In order to thoroughly address the task force recommendations, EDUCAUSE will pursue digital transformation as a strategic goal throughout 2019, addressing it across many of our programs and resources.

Some of this work is already bearing fruit:

As we continue to address the task force recommendations throughout the coming year, you can expect to see references and changes related to Dx throughout our articles, research, events, and other resources. And if you have an example of digital transformation at your own institution that you'd like to share, please let us know. You can always reach us at [email protected].

Betsy Tippens Reinitz is the Director of Enterprise IT Programs for EDUCAUSE.

© 2018 Betsy Tippens Reinitz. The text of this work is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License.