EDUCAUSE recommends a "What, So What, and Now What" approach to help build and support a more proactive orientation to the future of higher education.
Vice President for Partnerships, Communities and Research
Colleges and universities have experienced rapid and substantial change over the past several years, leaving technology professionals and leaders to wonder what might be next for higher education. Some institutions will take a passive orientation to the future, waiting to see what happens and adapting as they can. But institutions that are willing and able to seize on opportunities to innovate and chart new paths forward will be in a position to help shape that future.
How can you help build and support a more proactive orientation to the future of higher education? We recommend a What, So What, and Now What approach to help you move from understanding the emerging trends, technologies, and practices, to identifying which of 2022's major challenges and opportunities your institution will focus on to creating an action plan to help shift the institution's culture, workforce, and technologies to better position you to address the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow.
So let's walk through our What/So What/Now What Planning Guide.
Let's start with the What by starting with the trends. Our new Trend Watch 2022 doesn't just show the major trends shaping higher education and technology strategy for 2022, it also lets you see the list for your type of institution. Which of these trends most resonate most? All of them, maybe? Some? The Trend Watch report also gives you a sense of how institutions are shifting their culture, workforce, and technology in response to the major trends. If you want to drill down into a particular area, check out this year's Horizon Reports. They'll help you learn more about trends, technologies, and practices related to information security or teaching and learning.
Now let's move on to the So What.
The top 10 IT Issues helps frame 2022. What do institutional leaders say are their top priorities for 2022 and how can technology help advance them? The 2022 Top 10 IT Issues describe the way technology is helping to make the higher education we deserve. It begins with developing a shared transformational vision and strategy for the institution that guides the institution's digital transformation work. The ultimate aim is an institution with a technology-enabled sustainable business model that has redefined "the campus," operates efficiently, and anticipates and addresses major new risks.
The path from vision to sustainability is accomplished by recognizing that no institution can be successful and sustainable without placing students' success at the center. And that includes understanding how and why to equitably incorporate technology into learning and the student experience. Which of the Top 10 IT issues resonate most? A careful review of the issues – ideally with colleagues from across the institution – can help you all shape your own "So What" list.
Now what: It's time to create your 2022 plan.
Even though many institutions share similar challenges and opportunities, our paths forward are significantly influenced by each particular constellation of institutional context, goals, and resources. So it's up to each institution to decide whether and how to respond to trends and shape its future. We recommend "beginning with the end in mind," and so we've created two tools to help you do just that. To create the higher education we deserve, forward-thinking institutional leaders are focused on digital transformation as the means to the ends they are aspiring to achieve.
EDUCAUSE's Dx planning process includes our Dx Strategy on a Page framework. It enables Dx strategy teams to walk through a six-step process to define and document their Dx journey. You might think of it as a hack or reverse-engineering. It starts with the end you're aiming for, and works backwards until you get to the starting point.
The steps are Purpose, Context, Impact, Outcomes, Outputs, and Inputs.
In the Purpose step, you'll answer why you're engaging in digital transformation. Which of the Top 10 IT issues is your institution prioritizing for 2022?
Then you'll move to Step 2, the Context step, where you'll document what's happening at your institution, in the community, nationally, or globally that is relevant to your Dx strategy. That's where the Trend Watch and Horizon Reports will come in handy.
Steps 3 and 4 ask you to describe the impact you want to have and the short-term and long-term changes your Dx strategy is aiming for and how you'll measure them.
In Step 5, you'll move on to Outputs. What is the objective of the project or initiative? What will you implement to create the change?
EDUCAUSE's new Horizon Action Plan on Privacy tool can help you here.
And then Step 6 completes your reverse-engineering hack. That's where you'll lay out the resources that will be needed to do the work.
You can download our Dx Strategy-on-a-page tool to get started.
The coming years will be beyond consequential for higher education. We will be working to create the higher education our learners and society deserve. Move from What to So What to Now What and use EDUCAUSE's planning resources to help you.