Business models back to the drawing board as NZ education tech spend rises

Social and economic pressures are forcing senior education leaders in New Zealand to rethink business models and consider a range of new technologies...

Social and economic pressures are forcing senior education leaders in New Zealand, and across the world, to rethink business models and consider a range of new technologies, to bring down the cost of administering education institutions and scale the business.

According to Gartner vice president and distinguished analyst Jan-Martin Lowendahl, traditional educational business models are being “fundamentally challenged” by digitalisation.

"An increasing number of technical innovations and technology trends are emerging from within the industry, but most will emerge outside the industry, driven by major forces such as digital business and the consumerisation and industrialisation of IT," Lowendahl says.

"Education sector CIOs need to take a broad approach and consider technologies from outside the education community, as well as looking for lessons from their peers.

“Focus on those that are most appropriate to your institution's strategy."

Worldwide education sector spending is forecast to grow 2.3 percent to reach US$67.8 billion in 2015, including higher education as well as primary and secondary schools.

In New Zealand, technology spending in the education sector will total NZ$362 million in 2015, an increase of 1.9 percent over 2014 while education institutions in Australia will spend A$2.6 billion on technology products and services in 2015, up 4.9 percent from 2014.

Consequently, Gartner has identified the top 10 strategic technologies for the education industry in 2015 and provides recommendations to education CIOs and IT leaders regarding adoption and benefits.

But Lowendahl insists it is not a list of what education CIOs spend the most time or money on; rather it is a list of strategic technologies that Gartner recommends education CIO should have a plan for in 2015:

1. Adaptive Learning

Adaptive learning is a concept that traces its roots back to at least the 1950s, but the ability to capture learner data through online learning has provided a breakthrough. True adaptive learning is a type of crowdsourcing and big data collection.

The real value of adaptive learning lies in the metadata attached to each learning "morsel," which must then be combined with enough empirical data of students trying to master the topic to allow personalised learning. It is extremely valuable in designing the pedagogy of the future.

2. Adaptive E-Textbooks

Unlike traditional print materials, e-textbooks can be edited to include up-to-date information, be assembled or disassembled, or include content from other sources and social interaction.

Adaptive e-textbooks add the element of tracking student interaction with the text, and adapting to the learning style. E-textbooks are the first key step of going from analog to digital education.

3. CRM

Customer relationship management (CRM) is now a widely recognised tool for tracking and managing relationships with constituents, including prospective and current students, parents, alumni, corporations, benefactors and other friends of the institution.

However, institutions are grappling with the difficulties of standardising and integrating the institutional data to achieve success with these solutions, and to enable rapid and informed decision making on their campus.

4. Big Data

Big data in education is associated with collecting vast amounts of data from the digitised activities of students, parents, faculty and staff, transforming that into information, and producing or recommending actions aimed at improving institution outcomes.

Big data in higher education has been around for decades, mainly focused on research. Now, it is a very promising technology-based strategic capability that has the possibility to improve the whole education ecosystem.

5. Sourcing Strategies

Not a technology in itself, sourcing strategies represent a collection of technologies and vendor services, from hosting to cloud, homegrown to open source, to subscription models for acquiring software/hardware capabilities.

A sourcing strategy is a set of scenarios, plans, directives and decisions that dynamically define and integrate internal and external resources and services required to fulfil an enterprise's business objectives.

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