Page 33 - Campus Technology, November/December 2017
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C-Level View
The Power of the Consortium
Indiana University’s Anastasia Morrone on the impacts consortia can have in higher education.
By Mary Grush
Often we hear about consortia and other co-op efforts formed for the purposes
of gaining pricing advantage for their membership on a multi-institution or even a statewide basis. These organizations do provide a valuable service. But many consortia in higher education go much farther in creating new opportunities for their communities. Anastasia Morrone, AVP for learning technologies at Indiana University, explains how.
Campus Technology: You’ve worked with the Big Ten Academic Alliance, the Unizin consortium and other multi-institution collaboratives. In your experience, what is the real appeal
of consortia or alliances for higher education?
Stacy Morrone: The power of these kinds of organizations is that they allow like- minded institutions and people to come together to try to solve issues facing higher education — by connecting across insti- tutions to get ideas outside of our own university and working together on some type of initiative, activity or service that will meet the needs of all of us. So for me, the focus moves from what’s happening at Indiana University to what’s happening with our peer institutions and how we can work together to move along more quickly than we ever could if we were trying to do everything ourselves.
Another important point is that we control our destiny in a way that is appealing to us. There are a lot of companies that have very good products and want to work with us.
But sometimes there is a solution we want that is really for us — rather than some- thing that a vendor has decided is right for us. We think through problems or issues in higher education and come together to fig- ure out how to best move forward.
CT: Does that mean that consortia develop their own products?
Morrone: The Unizin consortium is a good model to answer your question. Sometimes we develop products ourselves, through our members or consortium staff. Other times we license vendor products that can meet the needs we have, and make them avail- able to consortium members.
But what is really important is that we have the ability to come together and say,
“Here are some pressing problems — what do we need to solve them?”
CT: You mention “like-minded” institutions. How do similar needs make the consortial efforts work?
Morrone: The Big Ten Academic Alliance is of course comprised of our peer institutions. We have many simi- larities, and some differences, too. One thing that is particularly effective for us is that there are several groups within the Big Ten Academic Alliance. The Learning Technology Leaders group, for example, is made up of peers of mine, who are at other Big Ten institutions. Individual members have a lot in com- mon with others in groups like this, and
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