Book Review: Game Changers: Education and Information Technologies

Game ChangersFor the spring term of 2014, I used Game Changers: Education And Information Technologies , edited by Diana G. Oblinger, as a textbook for the course. The course ITEC 5010, Instructional Technology served as an introduction to the instructional technology field. Game Changers was the second book read in the course, and I believe it helped the learners appreciate developing trends in education.

According to Oblinger, the purpose of the book was to highlight “the game changers for education” (Oblinger, 2012, p. 3).  I believe that Oblinger achieve this goal. The book is 388 pages, and has 17 chapters and 21 case studies. For the purpose of my class, we used only the chapters. Each of the chapters took a different look at higher education and provided a glimpse into how education could be applied differently.

  • The Knowledge Economy: Challenges and Opportunities for American Higher Education
  • The Questions We Need to Ask First: Setting Priorities for Higher Education in Our Technology-Rich World
  • IT as a Game Changer
  • From Metrics to Analytics, Reporting to Action: Analytics’ Role in Changing the Learning Environment
  • IT Innovations and the Nontraditional Learner
  • Why Openness in Education?
  • Early Days of a Growing Trend: Nonprofit/For-Profit Academic Partnerships in Higher Education Scaling Up: Four Ideas to Increase College Completion
  • Western Governors University
  • University of Phoenix
  • SUNY Empire State College: A Game Changer in Open Learning
  • Athabasca University: Canada’s Open University
  • Providing Quality Higher Education for Adults
  • University of the People
  • The Open Learning Initiative: Enacting Instruction Online
  • The Postmodality Era: How “Online Learning” Is Becoming “Learning”
  • Going the Distance: Outsourcing Online Learning

The book begins by pointing out where higher education sits in terms of the knowledge society and knowledge workers. To operate in a knowledge society, individuals must have increased knowledge and ability. More jobs require a post-secondary education. Moreover, there is increasing attention being placed on competency rather than just seat time. In addition to addressing the impact of higher education on society, the book also focuses on the impact technology has on education. While countless other areas of our society have been significantly impacted by technology, education seems to be lingering. The authors believe that higher education has a responsibility to help students become productive members of society and this includes the use of technology.

In the chapter “IT as a Game Changer,” the authors outline how the college experience can be improved in terms of learning, support services, collaboration, infrastructure, decision-making, etc. Students now expect to be able to access services on their computers and mobile devices, and are frustrated when they cannot. Technology tools and services should be ubiquitous and transparent to their lives of students. Technology should also be collecting data so that faculty, students, and administrators can make real-time decisions based on the supporting data.

In my opinion, I believe that higher education does a substandard job at leveraging data to make decisions. This book has dedicated a chapter to the topic and stresses the importance as well as offers metrics to follow. By creating robust drill-down dashboards, faculty and administrators should be able to more quickly identify at-risk students. Additionally, administrators should be able to identify students who are lagging behind on-time graduation goals. More needs to be done to integrate database systems. More metrics on institution success must be made public in real time to increase transparency. If they can do it with sports, we should be able to do it with education.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the number of chapters dedicated to open source education resources, alternative education models, and distance education. The authors stressed the importance of distance education because of the number of non-traditional students in the higher education system. According to the authors, 73% of all students meet at least one non-traditional qualifier. The traditional higher education model does not necessarily fit these students; there must be other more flexible models. This book addressed a handful of different models. I walked away with a number of ideas.

Because each of the chapters was academic in nature, there were a plethora of additional documents to which you could refer. Additionally, throughout the book, there were graphical models and tables that helped to clarify concepts. There were also links throughout the book to Web-based resources. I saved many of these resources to my Diigo account.

Based on the conversation from my class, this book was very eye opening especially to those who have only know one traditional model. It is a book I will use again if I teach the same course.

References

Oblinger, D., & EDUCAUSE (Association). (2012). Game changers: Education and information technologies. [Washington, D.C.]: EDUCAUSE.

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