Transforming Higher Education: Lincoln Workshop Proceedings
James L. Morrison, Workshop Facilitator

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:

Social Developments

  1. Internationalization will result in cultural diversity in learners and teachers
  2. Reduction of social welfare
  3. Overall explosion of availability of information
  4. Increased leisure travel and mobility
  5. Increase in the number of programs offered by institutions worldwide
  6. Young people will have multiple careers
  7. Individual competitiveness and the consequences thereof
  8. Colleges will increasingly have older students
  9. The demand for life-long education will increase
  10. Population will increasingly grow
  11. Workforce will continue to age
  12. Increasing student demand for value for money and quality services
  13. Greater family responsibility and involvement in education from a growing cultural diversity and fees demands
  14. More people want more education/learning
  15. Increasing drug and alcohol abuse
  16. Hedonism-the overall importance of "me"-will increase
  17. There will be less government (and a reduction of government funding)
  18. There will be more competition amongst educational institutions.
  19. There will be a decline in standards; in school leavers, exacerbated by NZQA
  20. There will be an increasing blurring of boundaries between the schools and the tertiary sector and between elements of the tertiary sector
  21. There will be an increased emphasis on individually tailored learning packages
  22. Tenure will end
  23. There is a growing cynicism and critical analysis skills of young people because of the dearth of information available to them.

Technological Developments

  1. Information explosion makes it increasingly difficult to control the credentialing of education
  2. Technology results in decreased social interaction
  3. The importance of system security is increasing
  4. Increasing use of virtual reality will enhance learning and interaction
  5. The intersection of TV and computer technologies will put an interactive work station in every home
  6. Technology will make language translation quick and easy
  7. Technology creates copyright and intellectual property ownership issues
  8. Learning will be more community based; less school based.
  9. Technology creates information overload
  10. Technology creates 24-hour access to services
  11. The nature of research will change due to electronic publishing and virtual reality
  12. Web information varies in reliability
  13. Intelligent tutoring systems will be increasingly effective
  14. Technology will be increasingly portable
  15. Half life of research findings will increasingly be reduced
  16. Differences in PC brands will disappear (systems synthesis)
  17. Commercial profit-driven organizations will make a bid for gatekeeper role (implications for local and global society and for educational institutions)
  18. Technology creates an opportunity for closer working relationships within the institution and between other organizations (not just educational ones)

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:

Group 1

Learner Centered

  • 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 shift)?


  • 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 socialisation centres?
  • 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 "sandwich" 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 our institutes.

Group 2

  1. Winning leadership support for transformation.
  2. Creating new organizational cultures
  3. Motivating and empowering faculty to be agents of transformation. (Changing faculty reward structures to foster transformation)
  4. Developing an academic-driven learning vision for the Information age
  5. Redirecting existing processes to achieve transformation-strategic planning, facilities planning and management, program review, promotion and tenure, assessment and accreditation, development and fundraising.
  6. Creating new pools of resources for investment in Information Age learning
  7. Creating incentives and providing training for faculty in the use of Information Age tools.
  8. Changing the production function of learning.
  9. Creating the information technology infrastructure for transformation.
  10. How do we get people to work together?
  11. How do we make good use of an environmental scanning system?
  12. How do we make sure that technical advice is useful?

Group 3

  1. How do you get strong leadership/champions?
  2. How do you achieve common vision and focus?
  3. Is it possible to identify/accept risk/implement small achievable projects which are then celebrated? 
  4. How do you communicate what is in it for individual staff Why should they change? How do you make people want to change?
  5. 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:

  • Infusing
  • Informing
  • Placating
  • Correcting
  • Facilitating
  • 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
  • Leadership
  • 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 transformation; 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 planning days)
  • 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:

  • Fear
  • Having people identify for themselves their own vision for the future
  • 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?)

Empowering Faculty

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

Critical questions

  • How can we reorient faculty members to think about more effective ways of teaching and research and make 'em think that it's their idea ?
  • How to persuade faculty members to adopt specialized roles (e.g., mentor)?
  • 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

  • Technophobia
  • 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 criteria
  • 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 screw up)
  • 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, relationship manager.
  • Align appraisal and promotion/salary systems (cutout present hypocrisy)

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.

General Observations...

  • 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...

  1. Employ new people; use consultants
  2. Create scanning groups throughout the organization
  3. Undertake vulnerability audits
  4. Engage in blue-skying ideas
  5. Invite people to write scenarios about what the organization might look like in 15 years
  6. Acquire backing of Council
  7. 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 in business?


  • 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 scanning

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.

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