Researching possible futures to guide leaders towards more effective tertiary education


  • Niki E Davis University of Canterbury e-Learning Lab
  • Andrew Higgins Independant Consultant



futures, scenario planning, DEANZ, tertiary leadership, open education, open educational resources, OER, open educational practices, online support services


This research aimed to inform institutional leaders by producing and disseminating a system wide view of what tertiary education might look like in Aotearoa New Zealand, five years into the future. The researchers were responding to a challenge in a speech at the DEANZ 2010 conference by a highly respected national leader (Dr Peter Coolbear). The outcome became known as the DEANZ2016 scenario set. Using JISC scenario planning methodologies, including interviews of 16 national and international education leaders, the scenario set was developed on an X axis depicting the tension between facing the academy vs facing New Zealand employers, professions and iwi, and a Y axis depicting the tension between standardized education vs customization to personalise learning. Each of the four quadrants aimed to expose and contrast potential future scenarios. These were entitled: Articulation, The 'Supermarket', Quality Branded Consortia, and Self Determination. Innovatively disseminated via the web, the DEANZ2016 website became the most popular section of the larger Ako Aotearoa website, which stimulated further research into uptake and impact of the project.

Author Biographies

Niki E Davis, University of Canterbury e-Learning Lab

Andrew Higgins, Independant Consultant

Andrew was a Director of e-Learning at AUT University and a past President of both the Distance Education Association of New Zealand and of the Australian Rural Education Research Association. He has been a member of various Ministerial Advisory Committees in New Zealand and in Queensland, Australia. His areas of work include strategic planning, e-Learning, Distance Education and the History of Education. Andrew was the Co-Principal Investigator in this research.