Institutional Responses to Emergent Technologies (IRET)

Supporting Studies & Synthesis Project

The JISC-funded IRET support project investigated the policies, practices and strategies that institutions are adopting to cope with the integration of emergent technologies into institutional systems.

Emergent technologies are not just emerging technologies, in the sense that they represent fairly novel and growing practices (if often using well established technologies and standards), but emergent technologies or practices which, because they often lack much central co-ordination, interact in new and unforeseen ways, generating potential instability and uncertainty.

In contrast with enterprise systems, which are built around the needs of a pre-established enterprise (associated with the institution), emergent technologies are built around individuals, groups and networks. While in the short term, enterprise systems and emergent technologies appear to be complementary and co-operative, some have argued that the growth of emergent technologies both signals and facilitates a shift in the ‘locus of control’ between institutions and individuals.

As such, emergent technologies represent an area of uncertainty and (usually mild) anxiety for many educational institutions. There is an increasing sense that institutions need to respond to these developments but less clarity about how they should go about developing this response. The outputs from this project are intended to help with this process.


Landscape report

Developed through interactions with pilot projects in the IRET programme and consultation with the wider educational community, the landscape report describes the range of responses that institutions have made to emergent technologies (the landscape) and explores some of the forces that shape that landscape.

IRET Slidecast

The IRET slidecast is presented on the ‘Understanding IRET‘ page. It introduces the JISC IRET programme, defines what emergent technologies are provides an overview of our 5Rs model. It is intended to be used as a primer for the associated guidance materials and workshop activities, but also to have standalone value.

Guidance materials

Based on exercises piloted during this project, these advice and guidance materials are intended to help institutions to formulate a response emergent technologies. There are a range of designs for workshop activities, including open discussions, consideration of scenarios, debates and prioritisation and agenda setting.

Case Studies

These six case studies present the work carried out by the pilot projects in the IRET programme, summarising their approach to emergent technologies, challenges, results & findings and lessons learnt.

Project Team

The project team was Will Allen and Steve Boneham of JISC Netskills, together with James Cornford of Newcastle University and University of East Anglia.

Further information

JISC Institutional Responses to Emergent Technologies Programme