What technology? reflections on evolving services

Reflections on Evolving Services
“As we go forward, I hope we’re going to continue to use technology to make really big differences in how people live and work.”
— Sergey Brin, Google co-founder
Ten years ago, when EDUCAUSE established the Evolving Technologies Committee to consider the future of information technologies and how they would drive, or be driven by, educational endeavors, there were no iPods, iPhones, fluid webcam conferencing — and definitely not many thoughts about green computing. Times have indeed changed.
Over the years, more services and the enhanced delivery of those services have moved to the forefront in importance. Institutions are now thinking of ways to use past and future technologies to streamline
and positively affect these services for teaching and learning, research, and administration. Doing so is a two-way street: technologies need services, and services need technologies to be effective. Thus this year,
the Evolving Technologies Committee is emphasizing the evolving role of technologies in the development and support of enhanced services, rather than specific technologies, and looks at how technologies can
make “really big differences” in service delivery for higher education.
Each year, the members of the EDUCAUSE Evolving Technologies Committee identify and research
the evolving technologies that are having — or are predicted to have — the most direct impact on higher education institutions. The committee members choose the relevant topics, write white papers, and present their findings at the EDUCAUSE annual conference.
This year, under the leadership of Committee Chair Sharon Collins, the committee selected five evolving technologies, presenting a brief overview at EDUCAUSE 2009. Published below are excerpts from the white papers on each topic, written by individual members of the committee: cyberinfrastructure and
high-performance computing, by Stephen Landry; open-source learning management systems, by Sharon Collins and Stephen Landry; product managers in IT organizations, by John W. McGuthry; information resource management technologies for libraries, by Beth Forrest Warner and Stephen Landry; and IT service management, by Stephen Landry.
In addition, 2009 marks the ten-year anniversary of the Evolving Technologies Committee. The article’s final section, written by Melody Childs and Molly Tamarkin, offers a brief overview of the past decade of committee work and white papers.
The full white papers can be found on the Evolving Technologies Committee website (http://www.educause.edu/EvolvingTechnologies Reports). These white papers address many other strategic areas for each evolving technology: key questions to ask; the implementation challenges; the major vendors and how to judge among them; how to proceed and the issues to be addressed; and the likely impacts in the next three to five years.
Cyberinfrastructure and High-Performance Computing Cyberinfrastructure refers to the evolving access to high-performance computing and networks to support research. Fifteen years ago, access to such highperformancecomputing was limited to a few researchers at institutions that operated supercomputers. Since then, the costs of computing, storage, and bandwidth have plummeted. Grid computing, for example, enables many relatively slow and inexpensive computers to be connected together to process large amounts of data, resulting in a system that rivals the power of traditional supercomputers — at a fraction of the cost.