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The Second Decade and Beyond


© 2008 Diana G. Oblinger. The text of this article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 43, no. 1 (January/February 2008): 4–5

The Second Decade—and Beyond

Diana G. Oblinger

Diana G. Oblinger is President of EDUCAUSE. Comments on this article can be sent to the author at doblinger@educause.edu and/or posted to the web via the link at the bottom of this page.

In times of transition, two categories of advice typically emerge: the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” camp and the “Any change is good” group. Oftentimes, the assumption is that respecting the past (“If it ain’t broke…”) is the equivalent of standing still. And in a rapidly changing world, standing still likely means falling behind. I believe that the best way to respect the past is to build on it to create an even better future.

In its first decade, EDUCAUSE can point to significant accomplishments for both the association and the IT profession:

  • EDUCAUSE membership has increased from 1,400 to over 2,200 institutions.
  • EDUCAUSE has become the leading voice in national IT policy issues and in teaching and learning with technology.
  • EDUCAUSE offers a range of professional development opportunities, from a “boot camp” for new managers to a premier leadership-development event.
  • EDUCAUSE holds regional conferences and one-day seminars to reach members across the country.
  • EDUCAUSE has moved beyond print to deliver information in the form of audio and video.
  • Higher education now has chief information officers—and many of them sit at the executive table with the president, provost, and chief financial officer.
  • IT is today considered absolutely essential to all colleges and universities.
  • EDUCAUSE and the IT profession have worked together as a community to advance IT on a global scale.

EDUCAUSE and the IT profession have done well. We should celebrate those accomplishments. But these successes do not mean that we can stand still. The rest of the world certainly isn’t. Think about the rapid emergence of new technologies. Think about how IT has become a strategic differentiator for business, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Think about just a few of the challenges that await IT in higher education:

  • Cyberinfrastructure
  • Web 2.0
  • Access by and success of students
  • Business continuity
  • Enterprise systems
  • Leadership development
  • Security
  • Privacy
  • Internationalization

Yet along with all of these challenges, there are constants. EDUCAUSE is an association dedicated to the intelligent use of IT. EDUCAUSE supports those involved with IT, whether they are engaged with infrastructure, services, administrative systems, research computing, teaching and learning, finance, policy, or emerging technologies. Our philosophy has been that we cannot focus only on IT; we must concentrate on all the things that IT enables.

Another constant is that EDUCAUSE serves its members. The corresponding challenge is that members’ needs are changing all the time—whether because of the technologies or because of the issues they generate. The technologies and the issues that existed a decade ago seem relatively simple in comparison with many of today’s challenges. So, the question is: What can EDUCAUSE do to address members’ needs?

Sift, sort, and synthesize information. There is so much information available that no individual or organization can keep up with all the details. EDUCAUSE can help its members by sifting through the trends, issues, and technologies available and helping them focus attention on those that are most promising or most likely to cause problems. In an environment where no one has enough time, sorting out the best information and synthesizing trends and issues can be a significant service.

Catalyze conversations. Among the greatest assets of EDUCAUSE are its relationships and its ability to convene discussions. EDUCAUSE can gather the collective wisdom of its members (colleges, universities, and corporations) and friends (other associations, government organizations, foundations). By actively convening these participants and encouraging conversations on emerging topics, EDUCAUSE can help crystallize issues and catalyze action on the part of the community.

Promote IT as a critical institutional asset. Although those in the IT profession feel that IT is critical to their organizations, not everyone in the institution believes the same. Sometimes this is due to a lack of understanding: some may not understand RSS or Web 2.0, for example. EDUCAUSE can communicate about technologies and practices in understandable terms. At other times, it can show the connection between IT and critical institutional issues. EDUCAUSE can help institutional leaders better understand the role that IT plays.

Lead the community. Higher education must address a wide range of IT issues. EDUCAUSE can use its credibility and position to frame these issues and to provide thought leadership to the community. It can also extend its leadership-development efforts. Members can be empowered and encouraged to lead from wherever they are in their institutions.

To do all this—to synthesize, catalyze, promote, and lead—EDUCAUSE relies on its members, on you. What can you do? Tell your colleagues about the accomplishments of EDUCAUSE and about how they might benefit by becoming a member of our community. Help us reach the future generation of IT leaders and workers, as well as those existing IT professionals who are in departments or units that may not consider EDUCAUSE to be their professional home.

At this transition point, we celebrate the past accomplishments of EDUCAUSE. But there is still much for us all to do. As individuals—and as an association—we have many more opportunities to grow, to contribute, and to transform our profession and higher education.

Please join us as we create the future of EDUCAUSE. After all, you are EDUCAUSE.

Diana Oblinger

Dr. Diana G. Oblinger President and CEO of EDUCAUSE

Dr. Diana G. Oblinger is President and CEO of EDUCAUSE, a nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education through the use of information technology. The current membership comprises over 2,300 colleges, universities and education organizations, including 250 corporations. Previously, Oblinger held positions in academia and business: Vice President for Information Resources and the Chief Information Officer for the University of North Carolina system, Executive Director of Higher Education for Microsoft, and IBM Director of the Institute for Academic Technology. She was on the faculty at the University of Missouri-Columbia and at Michigan State University and served as the associate dean of academic programs at the University of Missouri.

Since becoming president of EDUCAUSE, Oblinger has become known for innovative product and services growth as well as international outreach. For example, Oblinger created the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI), known for its leadership in teaching, learning and technology innovation as well as several signature products, such as the 7 Things You Should Know About series. She also initiated EDUCAUSE's first fully online events and its e-book series, including Educating the Net Generation and Learning Spaces.

In collaboration with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation she led the creation of the Next Generation Learning Challenges, a $30M program focused on improving college readiness and completion through information technologies. Partners include the League for Innovation in the Community College, the International Association for K-12 Online Learning, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and the Hewlett Foundation.

Oblinger has served on a variety of boards such as the board of directors of ACT, the editorial board of Open Learning, the National Science Foundation's Advisory Committee on Cyberinfrastructure, and the National Visiting Committee for NSF's National Science Digital Library project. She currently serves on the American Council on Education (ACE) board and works with other higher education associations as chair of the Washington Higher Education Secretariat. Dr. Oblinger has testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Employment, Safety and Training and the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Technology.

Oblinger is a frequent keynote speaker as well as the co-author of the award-winning book What Business Wants from Higher Education. She is the editor or co-editor of seven books: The Learning Revolution, The Future Compatible Campus, Renewing Administration, E is for Everything, Best Practices in Student Services, Educating the Net Generation, and Learning Spaces. She also is the author or co-author of numerous monographs and articles on higher education and technology.

Dr. Oblinger has received outstanding teaching and research awards, was named Young Alumnus of the Year by Iowa State University and holds two honorary degrees. She is a graduate of Iowa State University (Bachelors, Masters, and Ph.D.) and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, and Sigma Xi.


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