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Strategy at the Heart of institutional transformation

I'm attending the UCISA CISG 2014 conference in Manchester.  I will attempt to blog about each presentation during the conference.  First up was Andrea Nolan from Edinburgh Napier University.

Andrea argued that a university needs a compelling vision of what it is trying to achieve; a vision that people can agree with and work towards.  IT is a key part of transforming visions into reality.  For Edinburgh Napier University, a particular concern is support for student success and for transnational education.  Andrea identified social media as a key technology for building a sense of community.
Andrea used the term “student success” rather than “student experience”.  Are students achieving what they expected, getting good jobs at the end of their course, as well as enjoying their time at the University?

One comment particularly stood out for me.  Andrea asked how Edinburgh Napier could make “home” students feel part of an international online community.   Usually when people talk about distance education they phrase this the other way around, assuming that on-campus is the norm and that online-only students need to be brought into that community.  Andrea’s reversal challenges this conventional thinking and could open some new opportunities.

There was also some discussion of risk.  Andrea argued that there needs to be room for failure, in order to innovate.  One member of the audience suggested that audit committees were too conservative in their attitude to risk, particularly for corporate IT, which can stifle innovation.  A grown-up discussion is needed of which risks can be accepted or even encouraged.

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