Tribal Group Blog

Tribal Group Blog

An irresistible force meets an immovable object

Posted by Daniel Barrass on November 1, 2018

When it comes to education, can Government policy-makers ever hope to keep up with rapid technology change? Should it even be a considerationDoes, in fact, policy-making conflict with the rapid technological advances within Higher Education?  And does either improve student success? So many questions, but do you agree with the experts on this?

Does policy-making support or restrict advances in Higher Education technology?

Higher Education technology, by its very nature, has always sought to make processes simpler than before – and new advances have made the impossible, possible. Today, the juggernaut that is ‘technological change’ is moving at speeds incomprehensible to many, often leaving behind even the most modern universities, and outdating government policies aimed to guide decision-making in a way that produces rational outcomes for the benefit of Higher Education as whole. 

Despite the common goal of improving the Higher Education experience and outcomes, for students, staff and wider stakeholders – changes in policy and technology can often be seen to be at odds with each other. Some argue: policies that impact the way in which universities operate do not appear to support advances in the use of technology. Research in 2017 suggests that millennials think they learn more from technology than people, more likely to ‘Google’ answers to questions rather than the traditional way of speaking to a human.

"Today, the juggernaut that is ‘technological change’ is moving at speeds incomprehensible to many, often leaving behind even the most modern universities"

So, the debate continues…  

  • Does policy-making conflict with the rapid technological advances within Higher Education? 
  • Will technology adapt to the changes in our policy framework? Can it?
  • Or should the speed of technological change now drive policy-making and can the policy makers ever hope to keep up with these rapid changes?
  • And if we’re being particularly argumentative - does either policy or technology really improve student success?

Of course, the debate doesn’t stop there, particularly when we consider the universities of the future and the many trends that the sector is predicting, like:

  • Changes in curriculum (e.g. Pick n Mix learning) and differing assessment methods 
  • Disruptive ways of learning (MOOCS, Degree Apprenticeships, T-Levels, Online, Distance) 
  • Year-round learning that’s likely to replace the two-semester pattern 
  • The role of corporations such as Apple, Google, Tesla and Amazon 
  • The endless possibilities of A.I. and automation in education.


“As a former University leader until 2011, I thought the pace of technological change then was challenging. Now, in 2018, I absolutely understand that to be the case. Overlay the technology environment with the profound changes that the sector is facing and with the media focus that it now prompts and the challenge for university staff and students are indeed significant”.

Jon Baldwin, Managing Director, Higher Education, Tribal 

Oklahoma State University Professor Subhash Kak (2018) wrote about the evolution of the university and the advances in alternatives to traditional learning methodsIt is widely acknowledged however that there will always be a need, and a genuine desire to combine the online world with in-person knowledge transfer. Today’s university must have a policy framework capable of accommodating the students of tomorrow [and their insatiable thirst for technology]. 

As impassioned as this debate often gets – here at Tribal we thrive on it as it guides the work we do and advances the products we develop. Staying tuned to universities needs, pedagogical advances and changes in government policy is, after all, the mission of every single person on our team as we partner with educators to improve experience and outcomes for everyone.

If you like a good debate too – we’d be delighted for you to join us for an entertaining evening of thought-provoking sessions, forthright opinions and open, lively discussion on the roles of policy and technology in higher education.

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Topics: Higher Education

Picture of Daniel Barrass

Written by Daniel Barrass

Higher Education Marketing Business Partner, Tribal Group