The University in Transition: Summary and Implications of the Six Trends

The Blurring Lines Series
Conclusion: Summary and Implications of the Six Trends

There are six major trends in higher education that are changing the landscape on college campuses. Three main categories of content and the three main centers of content management and distribution are coming together.

The Blurring Lines Series has attempted to cover each of these trends in more detail. I’m appreciative for all the comments, and the discussion that it has spurred.

Summary: The Six Themes

The key themes running through these six trends are open content, greater reliance on data analytics, “flipped” spaces (libraries and classrooms) and products, pricing models, and distribution strategies tied to user demand. I don’t have a crystal ball, but I offer the following observations about how universities, their libraries and companies that support universities and libraries can think about these forces as they plan for the near future.

Implications for Libraries

  • Libraries will be working much more closely with faculty and IT department around educational content, testing services, and adaptive study products that are institutionally managed and/or owned.
  • Libraries will increasingly become incubators for open content—both educational and scholarly.
  • As more providers offer more online services, concerns about consistency of delivery and availability will be front and center for librarians.
  • As Universities seek better “branding” and program positioning, libraries will be asked to align resources to support these programs.
  • Libraries will see the lines blur and often dissolve between publishers, aggregators, and service providers.
  • Libraries and universities will, with much greater frequency, either directly or through third-parties, get into the business of distributing and licensing the unique and valuable content from their institutional repositories.

Implications for Publishers and Content Providers

  • To remain relevant, publishers will need to become less siloed as educational, scholarly, and/or professional/trade houses.
  • Innovation in packaging, pricing, and distribution of all forms of content—and especially pricing around access—will be required. Resist this inevitability at great peril.
  • Aggregators will need to offer a greater range of products and services that support not only research—but teaching, studying, and testing as well.
  • Increased partnerships with unlikely allies will be the way forward to evolve.

Implications for University IT

  • A “Digital Nerve Center” for content, services, and hardware used for scholarly research and learning will emerge. The IT department has already become much more than a network manager, but it will continue to amplify its role. The head of IT and the head of the library will see a greater and greater synergy of roles.
  • As universities and programs develop their brands, IT will need to support much more than online course delivery. IT will be a critical player in the expanding marketplace for a university’s many unique (and saleable) assets and resources. Broader issues around e-commerce will offer new challenges.

This concludes “The Blurring Lines Series,” and it has been my pleasure to offer my view on the fascinating trends that are changing higher education as we know it. I will be presenting on this topic  at the 33rd Annual Charleston Conference on Friday, November 8, 2013 at 10:30am in a session entitled, “Content, Services and Space: The Future of the Library As Lines Blur.”

Advisor and Series Editor: Michael Boezi, author of the Good Content Series on EdTech Times.

David Parker

David Parker

David Parker is head of business products for Alexander Street Press, the leading provider of multi-media databases to the global university library market. David founded Business Expert Press and served as the President of its sister company, Momentum Press. BEP and MP specialize in applied, concise ebooks for advanced business and engineering students.Prior to that, David was editor-in-chief for business publishing at Pearson Education. David holds a bachelor’s degree in international studies from George Fox University and a Master’s Degree in anthropology from the University of Arizona. He has also completed executive education at City University Seattle and the University of Chicago. David serves on the publisher’s advisory board to SIPX (Stanford Intellectual Property Exchange).