Higher Education’s Influence is a Changin

It is obvious that Apple has not been catering to Higher Education with their shift to the new iPad consumer line. And it is also clear that Microsoft must try to hold on to the markets they still control; Business and Government, hence, not a lot of concern for Higher Ed. Of course we have always known that there is no money in Higher Ed, but we always had influence. What is now apparent is that Higher Education has lost its influence. The influence born from the student computing experience that would shape their technology buying habits as they moved into the work force. Why exactly has this happened and what might the long term effect be?

There is no business, marketing or economic reason for this change. I think the change is driven the fact that students no longer consider the computer an advantage. Early on it was critical for the tech industry to gain academic influence. School was the first exposure to the wonders and power of computing. Apple chose to control K-12 which may now be an influence fueling their success. Microsoft chose to control business which required influence from Higher Education, valid reason for their current control of the MS Office, now SharePoint, dependent business world. Some tried to gain influence solely by hardware opportunity such as IBM and Sun, unfortunately their strategy had no way to maintain contact after graduation.

So is it that the student no longer considers the computer as an advantage or is it that they no longer consider the computer cool. Either way it translates to a vanishing concern by the main tech companies. The computer does not really have that much influence on learning. Trying to tie it to the optimal path to the Internet isn’t really about enhanced learning, that is about access to information which may assist learning. So what does this next period have in store for Higher Education? If Higher Ed has no influence then are we just consumers. Yes, we are just consumers of devices, however, Higher Ed does influence the flow of information. And that is why Google cares the most about us now.

About ghsmith76

Greg Smith has retired. His last position was the Interim CIO at Western Washington University. Prior to WWU Greg was the CIO at Missouri S&T, and before that the CIO for George Fox University in Newberg, OR. Greg went to the Northwest from the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology in Indianapolis, IN. where he served as the Director of IT for 8 years. Prior to the IT career in Academia, Greg was a Systems Consultant with Hewlett-Packard primarily with the Analytical Group working out of San Francisco,Cincinnati and Indianapolis. Greg's passion as a CIO in Higher Education came from his belief that Technology can benefit Teaching & Learning.

Posted on May 9, 2010, in Apple, Google, Higher Education, Microsoft, Online Learning and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I don't think higher ed is losing influence so much as the computing landscape is changing. I also disagree that students "no longer consider the computer cool". They understand the value of devices. The world is 'in their pocket'. The movement is toward personal computing devices and cloud environments. The ecosystem is morphing away from centralized computing environments with 'standards' toward a self-actualized interaction with data and services that are defined by the end user.If you speak with IT leadership in other industries the conversation is quite similar. They are being challenged by the 'digital natives' who do not comprehend the need for highly structured computing environments when they have been nurtured in a world where 'you can have it your way'.Those of us in IT leadership roles must recognize the shift of focus and adjust how we influence.BTW – Google only cares about your eyeballs and digits not what you do with them. Learning is an irrelevant by-product of accessing user trend data.Steve diFilipo


  2. As more institutions focus on providing what the students want, companies like Apple and MS understand the value of having the students know what they want *before* they arrive on campus. Mac-heavy campuses used to be a marketing tool and bastion of support for Apple. More and more, I think they now point up what students expect to see when they arrive.


  3. Greg, I think this is one of the many factors of the ongoing "consumerization" of IT. The general consumer market is vastly larger than the higher education market. Also, students are now bringing their own IT and IT infrastructure to campus, rather than us providing it for them. "Back in the day," we used to advise students on what computers to buy when they came to college. Now, they've had a laptop since junior high school and they're forcing us to deal with their IT environments (Facebook, gmail, etc.) that they already have in place and don't intend to drop in favor of our IT environments. The initial point of IT choice influence has moved below us, to the junior high and high school level. We're no longer driving the environment, we're reacting to it.


  4. I also think that we are seeing a deinstitutionalisation of higher education with learning opportunities increasingly taking place outside of the hallowed halls of universities. It becomes much less important to meet the needs of higher ed organisations as increasingly all students need their preferred device for accessing the web.


  5. Of course this statement it true. First, higher ed is not that big a market compared to the consumer trade. The only reason Apple was ever interested in education was to indoctrinate the kids to their products….When you think about the comment of higher ed IT projects failing….and then think about creating a technology product “especially for” higher ed…and then think about higher ed’s reluctance to change …and the 3000 or so different ways individual higher ed institutions do the same process (ie. Registration)….No wonder these companies have a waning interest in higher ed.


  1. Pingback: Embracing the Widespread Adoption of Consumer Technologies « Higher Ed Tech Talk

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