Transforming Higher Education: Lincoln Workshop Proceedings
James L. Morrison, Workshop
The international collaborative workshop, Transforming Higher
Education, was sponsored by Lincoln University and On the Horizon
and attended by a number of colleagues from New Zealand and
Australian universities (see the bios
of conference attendees). The proceedings were developed from
presentations and notes provided by conference participants who
volunteered to take notes and who gave me their notes. The results
of their efforts are below.
Developments in the Social and Technological
Sectors That Will Affect Colleges and Universities
Below are developments in the social and technological sectors
developed in an initial session of the conference:
- Internationalization will result in cultural diversity in
learners and teachers
- Reduction of social welfare
- Overall explosion of availability of information
- Increased leisure travel and mobility
- Increase in the number of programs offered by institutions
- Young people will have multiple careers
- Individual competitiveness and the consequences thereof
- Colleges will increasingly have older students
- The demand for life-long education will increase
- Population will increasingly grow
- Workforce will continue to age
- Increasing student demand for value for money and quality
- Greater family responsibility and involvement in education
from a growing cultural diversity and fees demands
- More people want more education/learning
- Increasing drug and alcohol abuse
- Hedonism-the overall importance of "me"-will increase
- There will be less government (and a reduction of government
- There will be more competition amongst educational institutions.
- There will be a decline in standards; in school leavers, exacerbated
- There will be an increasing blurring of boundaries between
the schools and the tertiary sector and between elements of the
- There will be an increased emphasis on individually tailored
- Tenure will end
- There is a growing cynicism and critical analysis skills of
young people because of the dearth of information available to
- Information explosion makes it increasingly difficult to control
the credentialing of education
- Technology results in decreased social interaction
- The importance of system security is increasing
- Increasing use of virtual reality will enhance learning and
- The intersection of TV and computer technologies will put
an interactive work station in every home
- Technology will make language translation quick and easy
- Technology creates copyright and intellectual property ownership
- Learning will be more community based; less school based.
- Technology creates information overload
- Technology creates 24-hour access to services
- The nature of research will change due to electronic publishing
and virtual reality
- Web information varies in reliability
- Intelligent tutoring systems will be increasingly effective
- Technology will be increasingly portable
- Half life of research findings will increasingly be reduced
- Differences in PC brands will disappear (systems synthesis)
- Commercial profit-driven organizations will make a bid for
gatekeeper role (implications for local and global society and
for educational institutions)
- Technology creates an opportunity for closer working relationships
within the institution and between other organizations (not just
Issues in Transforming Higher Education
Another major task of the conference was to identify the major
issues in transforming higher education. To do this, we broke
down into small groups. Below is the report of these groups:
- Boundaries of Power. To what extent can learners be given
or take responsibility for their own learning when there is legislation
that guarantees that their expectations should be met by the product
they are purchasing (e.g. the Consumer Guarantee Act)?
- Role of Staff. What are the roles of staff in the new environment,
not just academic, but also technical and administrative staff?
What type of staff are required and in what proportions? Role
changes are apparent as academic staff become the facilitators
and managers of the learning process. Training for these new roles
will be required. Will these new roles see more job sharing and
tele-working, indeed will "virtual" staff suffice?
- Empowering learners. In an environment where learners are
customers who can select from a smorgasbord of products, how can
they be empowered to make the selection that meets their requirements?
This is a different concept than learners being offered a product
range (as at present) that has been pre-determined by educators.
- Time management. How feasible is true open learning? How will
we determine the policies on access to facilities, assessment
and support? Alternatively, how will staff feel about the change
to working windows (e.g., who will be on the midnight to dawn
- What will campuses look like-the facilities, resources and
their roles? What will replace the traditional environment of
lecture theaters and classrooms? Will campuses in fact become
- Return on investment-what will the payback period be? The
associated costs need to be seen as an investment which will bring
an ongoing return. For example, Queens University of Belfast has
experienced a saving of 11.7 hours of lecturer time for every
hour of CBL developed.
- Legislation-how will we manage the current legislative requirements
in the new environment? Especially the reporting, procedures and
accountability requirements of such bodies as the New Zealand
Qualifications Authority and the Ministry of Education who control
accreditation and funding respectively. This is already a problem
in relation to the difference in standards between the polytechnic
and university sectors and private providers. Will this be compounded
when international providers offer programmes via technology?
- Early adopters-groups will be selected by institutions to
be the catalysts for change so that the success can be perpetuated
throughout institutions. In the interim how will the conflict
between their conditions, hours, innovation and rewards compared
to those of the traditional Faculty be managed?
- Relationships with industry and other bodies-will the move
to work-based training and assessment see a move back to
type programmes? Indeed will study become the sandwich between
work? The demand for recognition of prior learning will also increase
dramatically, polytechnics are already involved in this but most
universities have been rejecting the concept.
Managing the revolution-how will we ensure that we control or
"stage-manage" the revolution required to transform
- Winning leadership support for transformation.
- Creating new organizational cultures
- Motivating and empowering faculty to be agents of transformation. (Changing
faculty reward structures to foster transformation)
- Developing an academic-driven learning vision for the Information
- Redirecting existing processes to achieve transformation-strategic
planning, facilities planning and management, program review,
promotion and tenure, assessment and accreditation, development
- Creating new pools of resources for investment in Information
- Creating incentives and providing training for faculty in
the use of Information Age tools.
- Changing the production function of learning.
- Creating the information technology infrastructure for
- How do we get people to work together?
- How do we make good use of an environmental scanning system?
- How do we make sure that technical advice is useful?
- How do you get strong leadership/champions?
- How do you achieve common vision and focus?
- Is it possible to identify/accept risk/implement small achievable
projects which are then celebrated?
- How do you communicate what is in it for individual staff
Why should they change? How do you make people want to change?
- Are tertiary institutions different from (the same as) other
organisations in terms of culture?
Creating Organizational Cultures
Another major topic focused on creating organizational cultures.
Below are our observations on what this task requires:
- Asking teachers to give ideas
- Showing how to do it
- Identify what needs to change
- Illustrate why it is necessary to change
- Win people's minds
- Deliver services in a more flexible way
- Develop a shared vision
- Create teams: academics/non-academics/students
- Begin with facts
- Find short comings and problems
- Celebrate successes
- Using language as the fundamental change agent
- Employing people who will support culture change
- Administrative support
- Recognition that the stronger the culture, the harder it is
to transform it into something else, particularly if the leadership
does not change
- A climate for change, initiated/followed by strong leadership
- A critical mass
- Managing and seeding small projects that are managed in a
positive way; applaud these, then move on to the next project
- Letting people make mistakes; accept that there may be failure
in pilot projects
- Learning from mistakes
- A balance between policy/procedure and innovation; policies
must be supportive
- Noting that the EFTS funding system is incompatible with
funding is of teaching not credentialling
- Playing on the fact that people want to be successful and
want to go forward into the future; in the face of change, people
look for the positives
- Doing - thinking - planning - getting the balance right.
- Trying to find the space to get people to lift their heads
from the day to day stuff and take time out to think (e.g., having
- Getting people linked into the big picture and then 'do' in
the sense of a project with a champion
- Answering the question of promotion and pathways for academics
in a transformed system (e.g., say you have a 45 year old lecturer
who is achieving good results and who has tenure; what is in it
for him/her to change?)
Some general observations on factors inducing change:
- Having people identify for themselves their own vision for
- Peer pressure
- Creating an opportunity for people to leave the organization
(What is the opportunity cost of keeping the people who do not
want to be there?)
One of the major questions vis-à-vis transformation is
the faculty. Our observations on the barriers to critical questions
regarding faculty empowerment and possible solutions are as follows:
Barriers to faculty empowerment
- How can we reorient faculty members to think about more effective
ways of teaching and research and make 'em think that it's their
- How to persuade faculty members to adopt specialized roles
- How do we change reward systems so as not to lower a faculty
member's market value ?
- How to change an individual's teaching style ?
- How do we change student expectations re teaching services
(e.g., get them away from spoon feeding)?
Observations on barriers
- Need to invest in training and opportunity costs involved
- Techno-nerds give change bad image
- Deadwood staff who have no stake in change
- Staff who do not perceive need for change
- Staff who are apparently successful ( or think they are) under
the old paradigm
- Using student evaluations (weak instruments open to abuse)
- Conservative students (with regard to teaching delivery)
- Faculty members who do not understand learning style differences
and techniques for incorporating a variety of approaches into
teaching material, especially at undergraduate level (staff need
both the 'why' and the 'how-to')
- Lack of overt linkage between quality instruments and system
of faculty reward
- Faculty resistance to bureaucratic imposition of performance
- Lack of clarity with regard to learning outcomes
- Historical adherence to traditional instructional forms such
as lecture and seminar
- Variety of inter-organizational and intra-organizational subcultures.
- Failure to celebrate/show successes in innovation.
- Lack of access to computers
- Individual assistance required (labor intensive)
- Many faculty members lack basic knowledge of technology.
- Lack of institutional support
- Schedule fewer lecture contact hours but require same outcomes
thereby forcing staff to use non-traditional methods
- Encourage student support for teaching initiatives
- Motivate registry/administrative staff, who have to have a
key role in change processes
- Note that process changes must be managed/implemented by both
corporate and academic staff
- Persuade faculty and staff of the need for change
- Recognize that traditional promotion/reward/recognition systems
have to change
- Give faculty/staff responsibility to make creative changes
and get direct results. This may involve dismantling bureaucracy
in order to allow straight line change. There may be tension between
centralized quality control systems and individual creative initiatives
- Find ways to allow risky experiments (don't punish those who
- Allow change champions to emerge
- Celebrate success stories across disciplines within the institution
- Develop external and internal, monetary and non-monetary,
incentives for faculty and staff
- Sponsor workshops on best practice and navigation of change
processes (e.g., instructional design support). Support services
need to be accessible and transparent.
- Provide 'moral' support for change
- Reward staff who are best teachers, not best entertainers
- Change PDA and promotion systems to rejig salary structure
around streamed specialties such as teacher, researcher, administrator,
- Align appraisal and promotion/salary systems (cutout present
Discussion of Gary Hamel, "Strategy
as Revolution." Harvard Business Review, July-Aug.
1996, pp. 72-73.
A key article for conference discussion was Gary Hamel's recent
article on "Strategy as Revolution." Below are the notes
from one group's discussion of the article and its implications
for transforming higher education.
- Hamel argues the importance of leadership
- We need to provide freedom for those offering ideas (from
those who might feel threatened)
- Are standard qualifications for leadership a trap?
Principle One: Strategic planning isn't strategic
Strategies for change...
- Employ new people; use consultants
- Create scanning groups throughout the organization
- Undertake vulnerability audits
- Engage in blue-skying ideas
- Invite people to write scenarios about what the organization
might look like in 15 years
- Acquire backing of Council
- Involve staff at all levels
- perhaps involve senior managers for a greater amount of time
- note: we have some concern about still being top down selection
of 'membership' of groups and imposed processes
- avoid inviting staff into the inner sanctum; go to their space
instead if you want to get the good ideas
Principle Two: Strategy making must be subversive
Identify the 10 or 20 most fundamental beliefs that incumbents
in your industry share'.
Is the 'box' we need to break out of in education stronger than
- celebrate examples of successful subversive 'risktaking'
- break down the strong culture that staff are in the organization
to have their needs met and have little loyalty to the organization
- create a culture where staff are truly heard
- develop strategic alliances with other education providers
to enhance the strengths of each
- ensure internal alliances are encouraged. Faculty
must cooperate rather than compete.
- change remuneration policies (e.g. last 20% of salary should
be dependent on successful operating of the team)
Principle Three: The bottleneck is at the top of the bottle
- encourage staff to use an internal 'intranet' for issues
discussion, accessing change ideas and information
- create an atmosphere where staff can share their ideas without
fear of retribution
- facilitate two-way communication
Principle Four: Revolutionaries exist in every company
Strategy: identify the revolutionaries and nurture them
Principle Five: Change is not the problem; engagement is
- develop self-empowered teams where ideas can be discussed
and then fed back into the greater organizational structure
- capitalize on possibility that faculty and staff will realize
that the future will be different as they engage in environmental
Principle Six: Strategy making must be democratic
Principle Seven: Anyone can be a strategic activist
Principle Eight: Perspective is worth 50 IQ points
Principle Nine: Top-down and bottom-up are not the alternatives
Principle Ten: You can't see the end from the beginning
This was a great workshop. The notes used in the proceedings captured
the essence and the spirit of our collaboration. Workshop participants
and browsers are invited to post comments, corrections, and additions
to the workshop discussion forum.