Archive for July, 2015

The comment on my previous post about the overlap between the digital media revolution and the transformation of higher education was quite perceptive.

The writer points out that how people consume and share information is vastly different now than even a decade ago, and that the changes have just begun. He goes on to observe that how universities adapt to how we share and receive information will be key to their survival.

For several years I taught an honors college colloquium titled “How Media Revolutions Change Everything.” We explored how family life, individual behavior, politics, government, foreign policy, religion, and education always experience fundamental changes as a consequence of media revolutions. The classroom is a great case in point.

For example, in the past I gave lectures, answered student questions, and discussed the issues. In this new media world I have students search basic information and answers to questions before class, and then “Skype in” experts from around the world to dialogue with us. I quickly discovered that long lectures were no longer needed.

And what’s more the students and I were able to experience personally and in real-time how the Internet, laptops and other devices connect the world and accelerate the globalization of everything. We were also able to see the importance of “media literacy” in understanding global change and its significance in influencing the future of higher education.

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This week I fine-tuned my blog site to focus more on the global future of higher education. I have come to believe that international education is our best hope for achieving world peace, expanding media revolution literacy, solving debilitating global problems, achieving cross-cultural understanding, and producing informed and effective global-thinking leaders.

As a result, I spent several years studying globalization in general and have concluded there are two primary forces already at work reshaping the academy:

Disruption: The digital technology revolution has disrupted the academy with new social media platforms, interactive websites, and other Internet innovations. Technology changed how we teach and replaced traditional lectures with Internet searches and ever-expanding interactive media tools and resources. New on-line markets are also appearing. How institutions are marketed and communicated has changed as well. And the changes brought about by the Internet revolution have even enabled governments to change their national priorities and refocus their education roles.

Convergence: These forces are extremely powerful, but may be less apparent. They are accelerating globalization while at the same time stimulating the transformation of higher education. Beyond technology disruption, forces such as worldwide economy shifts, changing faculty and student migration patterns, intensified foreign competition for money and students, increased world travel in general, the impact of polarized political ideologies, new aggressive foreign policy initiatives, a growing nationalism in some part of the world, and aggressive nation-branding campaigns, all are converging to change and globalize virtually everything.  And all of these forces also have strong implications for how international higher education will inevitably evolve.

In the coming weeks and months we will be exploring the implications of these forces for university advancement professionals, academic leaders at all levels, faculty, students, alumni, donors, business leaders, foundation heads, prospective students, politicians, and everyone  affected by the consequences and opportunities of the globalization of higher education.

Coming in August: My new book The Transition Academy: Seizing Opportunity in the Age of Disruption addresses many of these issues. (CASE Books at http://www.case.org/books)         


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This week I attended the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education’s annual Summit for Advancement Leaders.  Each year the CASE Summit examines the issues that will disrupt and change the future of higher education. My last post discussed some of these higher education issues and previewed my new book on the topic coming in August.

The fact is almost all nonprofit institutions face many of the same challenges. They must find new donors, deal with the consequences of a technology revolution, compensate for changing government support, and face the economic and marketing realities of globalization. This certainly will require more sophistication. But because most of these problems are related to advancement work, there also will be many new opportunities for higher levels of institutional leadership.

As I thought more about what success in this changing marketplace will require I became more convinced than ever that advancement professionals will have to be very integrated in how they go about their work. In fact, I now believe they should go so far as to incorporate each other’s language when explaining their individual goals and visions. For example, when talking to donors  fundraisers should also reference the need to build strong institutional brand identities, the importance of consistency in explaining competitive advantage, the need for high visibility in new target markets, the coming changes in student recruitment, the benefits of an international student experience, etc. And this same type of cross-discipline referencing should apply to everyone else in advancement as they communicate with their constituents.

In other words, when all advancement professionals talk with their constituents as if they are all in the business of marketing the institution, the result will be the perception that this institution understands the challenges of a rapidly changing world and is on its way to a whole new level of academic distinction.

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A number of forces are converging to change the future of higher education: (1) Governments everywhere are changing how they support education, often cutting back. (2) Digital technology is changing both how we teach and how we tell our institutions’ stories. (3) Globalization is gradually and steadily changing the competitive dynamics of our marketplace.

In the United States all of this is happening in an atmosphere of state government cutbacks. Many institutions therefore are focused more on saving their core business and local markets than on exploring international opportunities.

But the facts suggest that global forces are already changing higher education… ready or not. Migration patterns of both students and faculty are already changing. Institutions everywhere are recruiting and raising money in markets previously foreign to them. Institutional partnerships are being formed. New campuses are being built. And technology is creating new international on-line markets, while at the same time changing the communication of everything from subject matter to institutions.

In such an environment it is only prudent for institutions to consider these international realities at the same time they are addressing their local core business disruptions. And what’s exciting is that all of these challenges are ones that all advancement professionals are capable of addressing. Who better than they can identify the parts of the world where their institution has  fundraising potential? Who better than they can call upon alumni in other countries to help recruit students and lift visibility? Who better than they can access and clarify the international appeal of their special program strengths? And who better than they can understand and explain how media revolutions change everything?

The only bad news in all of this is that advancement work will require more sophistication than ever before. But the exciting good news is that there is no one in all of higher education better suited than advancement professionals to help lead the way.

My new book with much more on this topic is coming soon from CASE Books: The Transition Academy: Seizing Opportunity in the Age of Disruption  (http://www.case.org/books).



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After criticizing President Obama’s handling of several crises, I am now inclined to give him much higher marks on his handling of several critical issues. Handling crises requires a quick, decisive, confident response. Handing issues requires a much different approach.

In the case of Syria and Russia the president took too long to respond. His time-consuming analytical approach made him look indecisive. In the case of Syria he drew a line in the sand but then ignored it. In the case of Russia he made demands and imposed consequences that Putin ignored, giving Russia the appearance of seizing the upper hand.

Nuclear power negotiations in Iran and renewing trade with Cuba were handled much better.  Effective leadership on issues requires clarifying all competing positions and then imagining possible compromises that can lead to acceptable win-win conclusions. With Iran and Cuba this is being managed more skillfully.

The fact is, effective leadership on issues allows for making a favorable impression even when a deal is not reached. This is because the deliberation process itself can make news, and skilled leaders have the opportunity to sound impressive and come off looking like statesmen.

Crisis communication is a matter of confidently and quickly doing the right thing. But leading on issues is more a matter of strategic thinking and skillful facilitation.

While Obama is not a participant in the EU vs. Greece deliberations, it will be very interesting to see which participants get high marks as leaders, and why.

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