Winning in the digital age
A digital revolution is sweeping the higher education sector globally and Mark Gregory has relocated from the US to ensure the University of Adelaide is among the leaders.
The recently appointed Chief Information Officer (CIO) is tasked with overseeing some serious IT capacity building which will impact on just about every area of the University.
It's a heady list which starts with the latest e-learning tools for students and researchers - a priority under the University's 10-year Beacon of Enlightenment Strategic Plan.
"We're working on improving tools for online teaching, course content capture and classroom technologies which are all related to enabling the new small group discovery approach," says Mr Gregory.
"Then there are priorities like mobile apps development, upgrading data centres, replacing management systems, wireless network expansion and information security - it's a pretty long list."
But Mr Gregory arrives in Adelaide well qualified for the task after 20 years in educational technology. A technology R&D specialist, he ran his own IT consultancy and spent 15 years at Portland State University where his leadership roles included CIO.
The University of Adelaide is trebling its IT budget over the next 10 years and a key focus is the Student e-Experience Project. This involves maximising online support for students which increasingly means making use of mobile devices.
"Today most people have their device of preference and many schools are already taking a tablet-centric approach to access online courses and eBooks." Mr Gregory said.
"This means we can eventually get out of the hardware provision business and instead focus our energy on creating software tools that work on student, teaching faculty and researcher devices."
Another priority is staff training to bring faculty members up-to-speed with all the latest technologies so they can help drive new e-learning initiatives.
It's a fundamental change in higher education delivery and Mr Gregory envisages both opportunities and challenges ahead.
"Universities have in large been about the business of knowledge creation, storage and communication.
All those endeavours have been rapidly transformed by technology and this is showing no sign of slowing,"
"Technology enables us to work smarter and more collaboratively, but it also means higher quality global competition, and it significantly increases student and public expectations.
"As a university we need to think clearly about why our students need us, why our nations and economies need us, and what we must offer going forward. I'd say that's a major challenge and a major opportunity."