Dr. John O’Brien Keynote

The History of the Future of Educational Technology

Reflecting on history and our tendency to ignore it in our forward-looking work, EDUCAUSE President and CEO John O’Brien invites us to consider the “history of the future” of higher education technology. He explores engaging “paleofuture” artifacts—for example, 19th century predictions of what technology would be like in the year 2000—and argues that there is much to learn from these glimpses into the history of the future.

Dr. John O’Brien serves as the president and CEO of EDUCAUSE, a nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education through the use of information technology. Throughout his 25-year career in higher education, John has deeply engaged with the IT and educational technology sectors. Most recently, John served as senior vice chancellor for academic and student affairs at Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU), the fourth largest higher education system in the country. In this position, John was dedicated to ensuring student success and implemented strategic changes to help MnSCU adapt to the changing needs of higher education. Prior to this role, John served as president of North Hennepin Community College (NHCC) from 2010 to 2013. Before joining NHCC, he was director of MnSCU’s “Students First” initiative, a systemwide effort that redesigned online systems to better meet students’ needs related to searching for a college or university, program or course, as well as applying for admission, registering for courses, and viewing or paying tuition bills. John’s past experience also includes four years at Century College serving as chief academic officer and subsequently as acting president. John also served as associate vice chancellor of instructional technology at the MnSCU system office. In addition to his experience as a higher education executive, John is an award-winning teacher at the college and university level. He was a faculty member at Normandale Community College, Augsburg College, the University of Minnesota, the University of St. Thomas, and Augustana College (South Dakota). John holds a bachelor’s degree in English and English education from Augustana College, a master’s degree in Anglo-Irish Literature from the University of Dublin (Trinity College), and a doctorate in English from the University of Minnesota.

The John E. Roueche International Leadership Award honors John’s service to The University of Texas at Austin and recognizes his role as the founder of NISOD four decades ago. Dr. Roueche also held the Sid Richardson Regents Chair and served as Director of the Community College Leadership Program for over four decades.