This morning's EDUCAUSE 2007 general session was a panel discussion moderated by Mara Liasson (NPR) and featuring three members of the Spellings' Commission on the Future of Higher Education. The panelists were Robert Mendenhall (President, Western Governors University), Charlene Nunley (President Emerita, Montgomery College), and David Ward (President, American Council on Education). The panelists offered insights into the Commission's report and higher education's responses to date. They were asked specifically to comment on the role of technology in measurable performance improvement (the core theme of this blog). Particularly noteworthy from my perspective were:
- Ward commented that the focus of the Commission's work had been on general education and the weak articulation between the high-school experience and the college experience.
- Nunley was eloquent in her plea for serving adult students in ways that are convenient and affordable to all adults.
- Mendenhall carefully crafted the case for using technology to improve upon and account for productivity in higher education, just as technology has been used in almost all other sectors of the economy to improve productivity through service process redesign.
- Ward noted that higher education leaders are not familiar with the potential of technology to improve performance and productivity, and that only episodic progress will result until leaders make it a point to learn more about technology-enabled process redesign.
It would not be accurate to claim that the role of technology in measurably improving and accounting for institutional performance has been absent in the past several years of debate about the future of higher education. It was nevertheless appropriate that the role of technology in measurable performance improvement was front and center at this year's EDUCAUSE conference -- thanks largely to Liasson's insistence and Mendenhall's informed response.