DEANZ Case study

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The purpose of this section is to explore scenarios from the perspective of an educational leader and decision-maker. In the case study below, Niki Davis reflects on her previous research work in developing scenarios and how this supports her role as a senior university leader. This case study will help you to prepare for the e-Learning activity where you will consider possible decisions in your context based on the reading of a scenario of your choice.

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Case Study
Niki's scenario planning research project now supports decision-making in her role as senior academic leader

Prof Niki Davis, Principal investigator for a national scenario planning project
Leaders and other managers of educational organisations are increasingly challenged in the 21st century to work with their senior management team and other staff reinventing their organisation to maintain and possibly expand in a world co-evolves with digital technologies.

As a principal investigator for the New Zealand National Center for Tertiary Teaching Excellence (Ako Aotearoa), I led the creation of four scenarios for the future provision of tertiary education through a process of interviewing leaders in tertiary education, using the JISC scenario building strategies, and input from the education sector. The project was conducted in collaboration with the New Zealand Association for Open, Flexible and Distance Learning (DEANZ).

Now as a senior leader of one of the Colleges of Education in New Zealand, I can better envisage a range of futures using this scenario set.

The four DEANZ 2016 scenarios[1] were designed to fit between axes that identifed two major tensions today:

  1. tension between facing ‘inward’ to academia/discipline and also facing ‘outward’ to the employers, professions and communities (including indigenous communities)
  2. tension between developing standardised learning experiences that take advantage of quality and production standards and the need to enable flexibility of customising to learners and their contexts.

I keep the contrasts of these axes in mind to assist the brainstorm of the questions that inform planning for one or more scenarios.

Quality branded consortia
As this online workshop is offered in collaboration with the OERu, let us focus on the Quality Branded Consortia scenario because OERu is a philanthropic quality consortium that aims to open access to higher education for millions of students who cannot currently afford it. This is a synopsis of this 2016 scenario that is emerging for its currently 24-partner institutions:
  • A learning environment in this scenario responds to increasing demands from students for programmes that link them to professional networks within and beyond their country. Consortium brands can bridge into international partnerships where their country has an edge. For example, the edge for New Zealand may be an international reputation for creativity through responding to diversity. Increases in interdisciplinary programmes and faculty collaborations are observed, which include students collaborating in projects.

This presents me and the university's senior management team with key decisions that include:

  • What key offerings could strengthen this university and also this consortium?
  • What are the implications for our infrastructure, including library and learning services?
  • Who could analyse our university's capacity to maintain an effective consortium membership?
  • Can entrance requirements and assessment be made congruent with those for regular admissions?
  • Will our stakeholders be concerned about risks, e.g. to our reputation and intellectual property rights?
  • Can we estimate costs such as admission and processing costs, travel for consortium meetings and student site visits etc?
  • How can students and staff be supported to engage with those in other locations, including intercultural and e-learning skills?

Reviewing this list we can see some that would apply to one of more of the other three scenarios in this set.

Microblog activity

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Additional considerations?

Based on your reading of the Quality Branded Consortia scenario above, are there additional questions or considerations which you feel the University of Canterbury (UCan) as an OERu member should consider?

Share your thoughts on additional questions arising from the Quality Branded Consortia scenario by posting on twitter or WEnotes. Remember to include the hashtag "#SP4Ed" in your post, for example:

  • I think UCan should ask ... #SP4Ed or
  • UCan will need to ... #SP4Ed


  1. Davis, N., Higgins, A., & Zaka, P. 2012. 2016 scenario guide to effective tertiary education in New Zealand: Planning resource for senior managers. Wellington: Ako Aotearoa, National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence.