Why Higher Ed is Always a Step Behind
Higher education is often a slow beast, lumbering forward amidst a fast-paced world of technology and innovation.
But it’s not just mobile Web, is it? Why is higher ed so slow to adopt new ideas?
The wrong people are in charge
Higher ed is very hierarchical and bureaucratic. The purse strings (not just cash, but resource management, prioritization, innovation) are held by people who didn’t grow up with cell phones in their pockets. They don’t text, so they don’t get that it’s the number one way millennials prefer to communicate.
Things change too quickly
When I give presentations on social media, I make sure to show The Conversation Prism by Brian Solis. I do this to demonstrate just how much there is out there, and how we don’t have to do everything. Many (most?) of the tools out there didn’t exist five years ago and many (most?) won’t exist five years from now. So it’s understandable that people are skeptical of these new “next big thing” sites and technologies… it’s hard to pick out the ones that really matter.
The usage is sparse
On our campus, less than 50% of mobile users have the ability to even browse the web on their phones. Almost all of them use SMS, but from the limited data we have it’s clear that mobile browsing represents a very small number of users. In the grand list of priorities, it’s hard to place this very high.
How to Move Forward?
Start by looking for case studies from other schools and show what the competition is doing. Don’t make it a project, make it part of your culture – set aside time for trying new things. You don’t know for sure what you’ll need to do, so you need to build it into your work.
If you want to be a leader in anything, you have to take some risks. Be willing to fail quickly, cut your losses, and move on. Fortunately, web tools don’t always require much financial support so there’s less feeling of a sunk cost.