The 2022 EDUCAUSE Horizon Report, Data and Analytics Edition appeared recently. EDUCAUSE describes itself as a “higher education technology association and the largest community of IT leaders and professionals committed to advancing higher education.” ¹ While the organisation is North American, it strives to think globally. This report presents “four possible future scenarios for postsecondary data and analytics.” ¹
The first scenario discusses how the contemporary data-driven measurement culture demands external evidence about performance, especially in terms of research, and the report notes that this is a challenge for institutions that focus on “serving the ‘whole student’”. (1) Many iSchools must justify their research productivity based on citation indexes, even at a time when criticism about relying on such indexes is growing. ², ³
The second looks at the consequences of dwindling budgets, which is especially a problem for schools that depend on tuition income. This leaves them “searching for answers on how best to support equitable and accessible data and analytics needs”. ¹ The answer often takes the form of cuts.
The third scenario talks about a downward trend in the public’s perception of the value of traditional university degrees, and the competition from “for-profit alternative credentialing centers“.¹ The latter may be a mainly a US phenomenon, and probably focuses on students whose educational goals are largely job-centred.
The fourth looks at how a drive for efficiency is leading institutions to improve the health of our global ecosystems by redefining the purposes and uses of physical spaces. The COVID pandemic has made home office and virtual meetings commonplace, but not every student or professor sees this as an overall efficiency improvement.
Outside of North America, these scenarios are only partially applicable. For example, there is no real evidence that people in Europe or Asia doubt the value of traditional university degrees. Nonetheless many of these scenarios apply broadly to the iSchools membership, the first especially.
1: ‘2022 EDUCAUSE Horizon Report | Data and Analytics Edition’. 2022. https://library.educause.edu/resources/2022/7/2022-educause-horizon-report-data-and-analytics-edition.
2: Khomyakov, Maxim. 2021. ‘Should Science Be Evaluated?’ Social Science Information 60 (3): 308 - 17. https://doi.org/10.1177/05390184211022101.
3: Cochran, Angela. 2022. ‘The End of Journal Impact Factor Purgatory (and Numbers to the Thousandths)’. The Scholarly Kitchen. 26 July 2022. https://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2022/07/26/the-end-of-journal-impact-factor-purgatory-and-numbers-to-the-thousandths/.