Technology & Higher Ed

Technology is taking education to new places.

And Phil Long has an idea of where. He is the Chief Innovation Officer and Associate Vice Provost for Learning Sciences at the University of Texas, austin, a role that gives him a unique understanding of how technology and education interact, and where this interaction is steering higher ed. Recently Long gave an interview with Campus Technology and talked about what he sees coming down road. The interview was published in an article called “On Change and Relevance for Higher Education” and it’s worth a read.

At the heart of the ever-evolving challenges facing our complicated higher ed landscape are the questions of how to react to all the change we’re seeing, and how to prepare for ones coming down the road. Long addresses this in the article.



Take a look:

Mary Grush:Where might institutions focus their work, as they try to recognize learning in ways that will keep them relevant for the future? On faculty? On administrative systems? What’s a practical approach to change?

Phil Long: Speaking in practical terms, I think the overarching question might be: How do we understand what happens in the university environment and communicate that to the broader public with clarity, transparency, and opennesss?(Let me make a quick distinction here. Transparency is seeing clearly what’s going on behind the curtains. Openness is sharing what is going on, but not necessarily simply a direct, unadorned snapshot of it.)

So, we have to be able to change and stop doing some things, and to stay relevant and focus our efforts on being ever more transparent.

A statement of one of the areas in which we need greater transparency is: How do faculty go about assessing and judging what students have learned? Along with that, can we develop better communication about what students are learning?

Note, I don’t mean to imply that there is any sort of crisis in the professoriate. The actual challenge to recognizing learning is that our organizational structure for enabling faculty to do what they do well is increasingly impinging on their capability to do it.


An important place for developing openness is the contribution of the institution to the surrounding economic and social community.

We have seen over the past several decades a complete reversal of the funding of public institutions. This is, in some sense, a marker of uncertainty and lack of confidence about where that funding is going in order to produce something of use for the general citizenry and economic value for states and communities around the country.

There are questions surrounding how universities affect the economic viability of the local towns and the broader regions in which they reside. We tend to forget how powerful universities are to impact the economic vitality of their surrounding communities. Getting insight into these questions could be a significant win for the institution.



We at G+Y strongly agree with Long’s emphasis on the importance of an educational institution’s relationship with their surrounding communities, and it something we often address with our clients. What are your relationships with your neighbors, your town, or your state? Let us know what you think, we’d love to set up a conversation with you and find out more!



The pace of change never seems to slow down. And the issues and implications of the technologies we use are actually getting broader and more profound every day.

-Phil Long