Governing Through Interconnections: Interoperability and Standardisation in Higher Education
Keywords:higher education, governance, interoperability, standardisation, infrastructure, digitalisation
The global higher education (HE) landscape is changing today, with HE systems facing similar dilemmas. Italian HE is characterised by a hybrid arrangement in which bureaucratic and neomanagerial features are coexisting. Recent scholarship has highlighted the role of digitalisation processes and interconnectivity across platforms in shaping educational practice and governance in HE. This research aims at investigating the unfolding of interconnectivity across digital entities in HE, and its effects. Two interconnective software used in an Italian university are examined through interviews, digital ethnography, and documentary analysis. The research highlights a close and threefold relationship between interoperability and standardisation processes in HE. In particular, interconnective textures may embed standards, exert standardising effects (on both local educational practice and the national HE governance), and become standards themselves. An alternative vision of interoperability in HE is finally articulated that focuses on collaboration and plasticity rather than control and closure.