Gartner Hype Cycle for Higher Education 2008


The Gartner Hype Cycle for Higher Education 2008 was released on 27 June 2008.


Image: Jeremy Kemp


According to my friend Wikipedia today, a Hype Cycle :

… in Gartner’s interpretation comprises 5 steps:

  1. Technology Trigger” — The first phase of a hype cycle is the “technology trigger” or breakthrough, product launch or other event that generates significant press and interest.
  2. Peak of Inflated Expectations” — In the next phase, a frenzy of publicity typically generates over-enthusiasm and unrealistic expectations. There may be some successful applications of a technology, but there are typically more failures.
  3. Trough of Disillusionment” — Technologies enter the “trough of disillusionment” because they fail to meet expectations and quickly become unfashionable. Consequently, the press usually abandons the topic and the technology.
  4. Slope of Enlightenment” — Although the press may have stopped covering the technology, some businesses continue through the “slope of enlightenment” and experiment to understand the benefits and practical application of the technology.
  5. Plateau of Productivity” — A technology reaches the “plateau of productivity” as the benefits of it become widely demonstrated and accepted. The technology becomes increasingly stable and evolves in second and third generations. The final height of the plateau varies according to whether the technology is broadly applicable or benefits only a niche market.

[more information – see Gartner’s explanation . ]

So, what does it say this year? Well, the terms of agreement by my institution forbid

“reproduction and distribution of this publication in any form without prior written permission”.

… so I’m not going to directly quote the bit that points out that students are leading the change via social software, user generated media and consumer IT devices. Nor the bit that mentions that professors are decreasing their dependency on technology delivered by their institutions and going for more autonomously controlled solutions.

I find it extremely interesting that they have dropped “Next Generation Library Management Systems” from the cycle, explaining that since last year they are used by over 50% of higher education institutions. O RLY? (Apart from the linguistic quibble that this would make them “current generation LMS”, I’m not sure that there has been a radical change of LMS structure and implementation across the sector )

Virtual environments / virtual worlds” is the item at the Peak of Inflated Expectation. I guess that means it will not get any more hyped (phew!) and hopefully it will get through the resultant disillusionment to become a mature, productive technology. “RFID for Library Managment” is making its way up the slope of enlightenment.

Learning content seems to be the most changeable and hard to predict, with “Podcasting Learning Content” and “IP Video for E-Learning” becoming obsolete before they plateau, due to being absorbed as part of other technologies like social networking tools. “Lecture Capture and Retrieval Tools” is just beginning its climb.

I find it interesting that the business function of technology and the educational function of technology are both considered in this report. It makes sense, as it is aimed at  a particular sector, however some technologies that are useful for education have a different degree of usefulness for administrative functions. I’m thinking of items like “Web Based Office Productivity Suites” (climbing up toward the Peak of Inflated Expectations), “Cloud E-mail for Higher Education“, “Personally Owned Devices with Campus Network Access” and “Tablet PCs“.

If you can get hold of it, it is worth reading. It *is* aimed at CIOs, so it doesn’t discuss in depth those personal – almost artisan – learning tools that  students and staff are beginning to use. It does suggest that we need to “change mindset” to cope with the challenges these bring.

UPDATE: I emailed the Gartner contact for our campus to ask whether I was violating any agreement by paraphrasing like this. He was OK with it and said they do often give permission to quote directly if you fill in the right forms 🙂 :

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