That “we are all coronavirus fighters now” hit me with a vengeance when I cut short my Mexican vacation and settled into a regimen of hand-washing and social distancing. This applies no less to colleges and universities in the United States and across the world. Schools are canceling face-to-face classes, and many are sending students home or telling them not to return from spring break. I wondered how academic resourcing (AR) models—the subject on which I’ve worked during the past decade—will impact institutional efforts to combat the coronavirus and deal with its consequences. To put the matter bluntly, will the momentum toward data-informed decision-making that has been building over the last few years be blunted by the coronavirus emergency? I believe this outcome would be a real setback for higher education—and also that it is not supported, let alone dictated, by the facts of the situation.
Here we are in the middle of our series on Emerging Programs. Today I’ll share a program that’s truly on the cusp: unmanned autonomous vehicles (UAVs). We've heard about the possibility of unmanned, self-driving, and flying cars for years; now it’s becoming a reality. Why do higher-education institutions need to be watching this field? UAVs will both displace workers and create jobs that require new skills in designing, developing, manufacturing, maintaining, and managing fleets of UAVs.Full speed ahead: What’s happening in the world of UAVs
Uber recently announced its partnership with Hyundai to launch an unmanned aerial taxi service, using electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircrafts. The plan is to have UAV service rolled out in Los Angeles and Dallas by 2023. The self-driving cars that are already out there have a giant rack of sensors on the roof, so they haven't necessarily nailed down the aesthetics just yet. The technology is evolving every day. In the maritime industry, drones that are essentially mini-submarines are already in action conducting jobs that previously were done by divers. In the delivery space, 2020 is the year that drones are slated to become a major player.
Recently I revisited last summer’s joint statement by AIR, EDUCAUSE, and NACUBO entitled, “Analytics Can Save Higher Education. Really.” It’s something all of us analytically-minded higher education people can and should get behind. I’m thrilled that these three organizations have made analytics a priority, and that they are working to spread the information and knowhow that will spur adoption.
Reading the statement reminded me of the tools we had to rely on before the development of today’s academic resourcing models that I've been writing about in these blogs. The improvements are relevant for achieving the benefits described in the joint statement referenced above as well as my own Reengineering the University and forthcoming Resource Management for Colleges and Universities. I'd like to share some of my experience in the early days of higher education analytics to show just how big a change the current models portend, and why that change is so important.