UWM's digital future

UWM's Digital Future Charge

Johannes Britz
Interim Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs



Thank you for your participation in the UWM's Digital Future planning process.

We are engaged in a yearlong campus conversation on emerging technologies and their impact on the University. Throughout higher education, there is a growing recognition that new technologies have the potential to usher in dramatic change. The UWM's Digital Future planning initiative will present an opportunity for us to proactively plan for this future as opposed to being in a reactive position with respect to coming changes.

I ask that the members of the three working groups (Teaching and Learning, Research, and University Operations and Services) focus on the following questions:

  •   With respect to future technologies and digitally enabled processes, what challenges or opportunities could have a high impact on UWM?
  •   What can we learn from other universities and organizations responding to this challenge or opportunity?
  •   What are the recommended action steps for UWM?
  •   What is the time horizon for action?


Your work (in face-to-face and online formats) will take place throughout the 2010-11 academic year, with additional speakers and meetings, culminating in a spring 2011 campus summit presenting an action plan on UWM's Digital Future. The action plan will help us understand the implications of emerging technologies for UWM, encompassing student learning and teaching, research and scholarship, and university services and operations, and it will position UWM to thrive as higher education digitizes.

Throughout this planning effort we will draw on the expertise of those within the University, and to that end the work will be informed by a survey of faculty and staff with an interest in and knowledge of new technologies and their impact on organizations. Our collective body of knowledge will guide us in addressing key issues such as the adaptability of the organization in adjusting to technological innovation; ethical issues related to new technologies; best practices in utilizing new technologies in administration; the impact of digitization on how we conduct research; and the rapid pace of change in instructional delivery (including developments in online and blended instruction; the 'consumerization' of the learning experience; the development of personalized learning systems, increasing use of simulation technologies, etc.).

New technologies have remade other sectors of society, from newspapers to airlines to banking. In some cases, these changes have led to massive reorganization and ultimately weakened organizations, while in others digitization has opened up new opportunities that were previously unimaginable (increasing, for example, global reach). The potential for change inherent in emerging technologies is both a challenge and an opportunity for higher education in general and for UWM in particular. The UWM's Digital Future planning process will yield a strategic vision for UWM as a 21st century institution.