Responsibility and capability

9 April 2017

The focus of the recent design thinking workshop was on virtualising IT applications for staff and students so they could be used anywhere, with a view to accommodate the rise of BYOD (bring your own device).

This got me thinking about the large issue of should the university be responsible for providing IT services in this way in this day-and-age.

Historically—when few folk had their own computers or computing device (e.g., tablets), is seemed like a necessity for the university to provide computers (and everything that goes along with that) for students. This saw the rise of the computer labs (which are still with us today). In the same way, as most folk did not have email accounts when they came to university, it made sense to provide them with an account.

But nowadays, most folk seem to have their own computers1, and email accounts, and so should the university still be in the business of providing that? Yes, they/we have the capability of doing that—better in someways—than students can, but should we be taking on that responsibility? In doing so, are we, in fact, reducing students’ capacity to become better digital citizens; to better make decisions about IT because we will (in many ways) mandate the range of ‘solutions’ they might use.

Students are generally very successful at managing their own PCs, Apples, phones, and so on. Rather than doing things for them, would it be better to try and teach them (rather than letting them muddle through), even better ways to think about and use technology. That way, they might build their own—more sophisticated—personal learning environment that better reflects their individual needs.


  1. There is a lot of evidence that this is true [return]