Open Menu Close Menu

IT Trends | Feature

Score! 20 Years of Big Ideas

As the Campus Technology conference celebrates its 20th anniversary, we take a moment to reflect on the ed tech trends of the past two decades--and the prescient wisdom of some of our speakers.

It's hard to believe that the World Wide Web took off only 20 years ago--the very same year as the first Campus Technology conference. Back then the conference was known as Syllabus, but the name change is insignificant compared with the seismic shifts that have taken place in educational technology since then. Technology is remaking our educational landscape at breathtaking speed, as a glance at the timeline below will attest. While we can be legitimately astonished at the pace of change, we shouldn't be surprised at the changes themselves. Indeed, a look back over the past two decades of CT conferences shows that many of our speakers predicted--even advocated--these changes long before they became part of mainstream discussions. Here, we review just a few of the conversational threads that have spooled out over the past 20 years of this event. (Titles reflect the speakers' roles at the time of the quotes.)

This story appears in the July 2013 conference edition of Campus Technology. Click here for a free subscription to the digital magazine.

"Distance learning is part of a much larger systemic change process; we are moving from a focus on teaching to a focus on learning, and we will see not a parallel university, but a proliferation of choices." --Judith Boettcher, director of distance learning, Florida State University

"The sad state of affairs today is that almost all instructional material professors have put on the web to date is shovelware. Yet the web is a medium whose power for pedagogical communication goes well beyond anything which universities are employing today." --Alistair Fraser, professor of meteorology, Penn State University

"No institution of higher education in today's economy can afford to resist change." --Jorge Klor de Alva, president, University of Phoenix

"Today's universities are serving as experimental petri dishes for how groups of people change their patterns of work, communicating, and learning with the use of new digital students, on a daily basis, transform their own learning experiences without the traditional supervision of educators." --Jaron Lanier, computer scientist

"It is not enough to say that technology is producing a paradigm shift in the way we think about education. It is an orbital shift whereby institutions revolve around the student rather than the student revolving around the institutions." --Mary Beth Susman, CEO, Kentucky Virtual University

"Never before has the coupling between technology and society been tighter than today.... The implications of these shifts blur the line between educator and student, as well as between place of learning and place of work; they point to ways that universities can evolve to become the center of a society of learners rather than nodes for distance learning." --Andrew Lippman, founding director, MIT Media Lab

"The expanding scope of legal regulation--especially through copyright and patent--threatens to undermine the important role technology might have for education and knowledge.... We have never seen a time when fewer actors are able to control more of the creative process than now." --Lawrence Lessig, professor of law and founder of the Center for Internet and Society, Stanford University (CA)

"We are truly an information-based organization.... If we don't start focusing on having the right information technology infrastructure in place, it's going to be harder for us to talk about how to map that to the institutional mission.... IT needs to be at the table and needs to be an integral part of the planning in our institutions as we move forward." --Kristine Hafner, associate vice president for information resources and communication, University of California, Berkeley

"There is a tension between innovation and supportability. When we hit that sweet spot between them we have done our jobs well." --Lois Brooks, director of academic computing, Stanford University (CA)

"The ultimate goal of our strategic plan is student success.... Our core mission is not to have the latest and greatest technology; our core mission is to educate students." --Mary Jo Gorney-Moreno, AVP for academic technology, San Jose State University (CA)

"I'm very concerned that we are headed into an age where CIOs deal only with survival and are not able to focus on the other broad elements inherent in our portfolios.... If you don't have advanced research, advanced computation, and advanced learning environments that are developed locally, regionally, nationally, and globally to take advantage of the fact that this is a very interconnected world...I fear it's going to slow the advance of the US in the world's future." --Brian Voss, CIO, Louisiana State University

 "We are horrendously bad at predicting the uses of technology.... And we are systematically bad at predicting the value and power of what you might call open or common-based systems of development or innovation. Innovation proceeds from a mixture of openness and control--we need a balance of the two." --James Boyle, William Neal Reynolds professor of law, Duke University Law School (NC)

"The pace of technological change is outstripping the development capacity of internal university IT organizations. The cottage industry phase of the information revolution is rapidly approaching its end. If we are to realize the [transformative] potential of rapidly evolving technology, our internal IT organizations must somehow climb the value chain to focus on the application and integration of rapidly emerging capabilities to continuously improve the university's core activities." --Adrian Sannier, university technology officer, Arizona State University

"Students only work with opaque technology--most have no idea of its underlying meaning. That wouldn't be so disturbing if it were a technology to boil pasta, but the point [of academic technologies] is having you think better. There is a cost in losing the expectation that [students] understand how computers work, or how networks work in any sense." --Sherry Turkle, author, researcher, and professor of the social studies of science and technology and director of the Initiative on Technology and Self, MIT

"We have to move from being knowledgeable to being knowledge-able...and it's not just how to use these tools, but it's also some recognition of how these tools might be using us." --Michael Wesch, associate professor, Kansas State University

"Today, what's under the microscope is the actual system of education itself. How many people want to graduate with $100,000 to $200,000 worth of student debt? At what point do you hit that threshold where getting a degree is now more expensive than the benefit of having a degree?" --George Siemens, associate director, Technology Enhanced Knowledge Research Institute, Athabasca University (Canada)


1993 | The World Wide Web becomes accessible to the public.
1994 | The White House launches its first website.
1997 | Blackboard is founded.
1998 | Google is founded.
2000 | The flipped classroom enters the higher ed lexicon.
2001 | OER movement kicks off with MIT's launch of OpenCourseWare.
2002 | Moodle first released.
2003 | BlackBerry introduces its first smartphone.
2004 | Duke University (NC) hands out iPods to all incoming freshmen. Facebook is started in a Harvard (MA) dorm.
2006 | Khan Academy is created.
2008 | Abilene Christian University (TX) gives iPhones to all first-year students. Amazon EC3 cloud service goes into full production.
2010 | The first iPad is released. University of Phoenixenrollment hits 307,000.
2011 | Student debt in the US surpasses $1 trillion.
2012 | "The Year of the MOOC" --The New York Times

comments powered by Disqus