This article looks at the unique role information technology plays in higher education, providing a responsive learning environment to facilitate the development and distribution of knowledge while also enhancing the operational effectiveness of academic institutions.
Already we have seen a shift from knowledge acquisition and retention to collaboration and development become a desired outcome: in the digitally networked community, knowledge unshared is knowledge unknown. It is no longer sufficient for learners to know what; they must also know why and how. Knowledge is not an end but a means, and the need of professionals to keep abreast of new ideas has become de rigueur for an ever-expanding range of careers. To paraphrase an economics precept, “We are all professionals now.”
Information technology—through its speed, accuracy, scalability, traceability, comparability, measurability, connectability, and interoperability—provides an environment that is highly conducive to the formation, sharing, and recording of ideas. It allows us to collaborate in real time, in new ways, and in combination with resources that raise understanding to new levels. What are the drivers underlying this age of technological empowerment? Table 1 shows the current trends that are driving the change and creating the conditions for the adoption of technology.