Rob Abel, Ed.D. | July 2019
"Commitment, and everything that goes with it"—LeAnn Rimes
In the last blog (“Won’t you give me a reason why?”), I wrote about one of the ongoing challenges of achieving effective use of technology in teaching and learning, namely that a “how” or “what” without a clear “why” typically leads to low adoption, low impact, and lack of sustainability. Leadership in edtech—whether at the institutional level or the sector level—requires achieving clarity of “the why.”
The “whys” in edtech have quite a range in terms of their profundity, ranging from the straightforward need to support faculty in what they want to do, to how do we leverage data in a way that is fair, unbiased, and effective? Thus, collaboration with peers/colleagues you can trust can help refine the whys.
When you are a person responsible for making edtech happen at scale, the whys very quickly lead to the hows and whats. The hows and the whats may simply be a matter of choosing among the market options and learning from the choices made by your peers. Again, collaboration you can trust is helpful.
But, what if the “why,” “how,” or “what” is more significant than you can solve on your own? What if they require substantial movement/change in the market? For instance, how do we provide support for a wide array of innovative tools desired by faculty and students via seamless integration while at the same time ensure high quality, actionable, transparent movement of data? Achieving the answer to that requires a committed collaboration that is about creating significant marketplace changes. IMS is all about enabling those changes by attracting a committed, trusted, and effective collaboration of institutions and suppliers who are dedicated to the proposition of high-performance plug-and-play interoperability using open standards.
This is the type of collaboration where parties commit to a long game of development, adoption, and ascertaining of impact. It requires long term involvement among committed partners—those that can move and sustain market change. It’s essential to understand what this is not. It is NOT throwing some standards out to the marketplace and hoping that it will change something. We’ve been through 20 years of that, and it hasn’t worked. Worse, it’s actually hurt in terms of the most serious parties pretty much ignoring all standards work because it just hasn’t resulted in an adequate return on investment—custom integrations were still the coin of the realm with at best lip service to “standards” as needed to respond to RFPs.
Today, things are different. They are not as different as we want—we still have a ways to go. But, thanks to the IMS community, there are a set of leaders (spanning institutions and suppliers) that are committed to changing what happens across the sector for the benefit of their own organization—as well as all those desiring to gain critical mass in enabling new models of education. Do we agree on everything? Of course not. But we are genuinely collaborating in a way that has fundamentally changed the technology experience and gives us hope beyond what any of us can achieve on our own, shaping the future of the edtech ecosystem.More than six years ago I wrote a blog that detailed why IMS Global’s “pay to play” membership model was the best way to enable the changes we seek (Seven Reasons Why A Membership Model is the Best Way to Get to Open Standards in Education). I’m delighted that our impact and growth since then—which were by no means assured—have helped validate those ideas. Thank you for making it all possible!