One of the things I love the most about Twitter are the conversations that can follow on from the act of sharing content, opinions and asking questions. Twitter is totally unique, in my opinion, in its ability to connect people around the subjects they are passionate about.  

A blog post that we shared across our education blogs earlier this week around the concept of the consumerisation of IT in education stimulated yet another of these rewarding conversations that proves you can derive huge value out of 140 characters, or less.

The 3 way exchange on Twitter was around the term ‘consumerisation of IT’ and how appropriate it was as a definition. Some of the wider social implications were also discussed.

Some felt that the term used in the post was not appropriate and that user choice and empowerment would be a more relevant term to be embraced moving forward. A further extension of this debate was around questioning whether the term was in fact just an opportunity for the IT industry. Interesting opinions, for sure.

Self provisioning, DIY and bring your own IT were also thrown into the mix as a way to describe the shift we are currently seeing around how people use technology for work, study and leisure.

So how did the Twitter exchange conclude? Well, as the exchange took place pretty late in the evening (for me, anyway) and involved folks from across the world the small matter of sleep came into the equation and the Twitter chat was unfortunately cut short. That being said, though, the exchange definitely help me shape my views and opinions around the consumerisation of IT movement.

With regard to the term itself, I actually think its useful to have a common description that we can all attach to this trend that is currently evolving. Yes, the trend is definitely ultimately about user choice and empowerment but would a more generic term give it a strong enough identity with IT professionals, policy makers and consumers to drive change? Arguably not.

Consumerisation of IT offers an huge opportunity for IT related services to be consumed on the users terms, using a combination of slim line devices with a long battery life, such as the Samsung Series 9, and cloud based applications, such as Live@EDU and SkyDrive. This, as in user choice, can only be a positive thing with a number of productivity gains and flexible working/studying benefits associated with it.

As raised during the conversation via Twitter, from an education perspective there is a danger of exacerbating socio-economic gaps but government initiatives and others, such as Get Online @ Home, will help address these challenges. Cloud based services, which are often free, also help provide access to enterprise class software to a wider audience that might not otherwise be able to afford software at home.

While these shouldn’t be ignored, and every effort should be made to insure inclusion for all, I am personally really excited about the opportunities for education and teaching and learning, in particular.

The challenge now is for IT teams to recognise and embrace the opportunities around the consumerisation of IT in education. In HE, for example, providing access to anytime anywhere learning and allowing students to bring their own technology on campus could play a key part in offering great student experiences that adds value to £9,000 student fees.

What do you think about the consumerisation of IT in education? It would be great to hear your thoughts in the comments below, or alternatively, and in keeping with the Twitter theme associated with this post,  share your thoughts over on Twitter.

I look forward to continuing the conversation around this topic in future posts.

Tim (@tbush)