Wednesday, July 21, 2010

From Campus Technology 2010

Today is Day 2 of my Campus Technology 2010 tour.  While yesterday's speakers and activities had my aching to run away from the conference never to return (Janet had better luck than I did) today's speakers more than made up for the deficit.  Yesterday brought me no insight nor inspired any new ideas.  Today, however, my horizons were expanded and many of my assumptions were challenged.  Perfect!

The Keynote

The day kicked off with an excellent Key Note by the Stephen Laster, CIO of the Harvard Business School.  Stephen is a great speaker and his topic was near and dear to my heart -- factors (8, in this case) that contribute to the success of an IT organization.

  1. Hire and mentor a great team (people first!)
  2. Run the shop as a business (a key consideration for an internal IT organization)
  3. Leverage planning and governance
  4. Take smart risks
  5. Actively measure
  6. Capture the customer (not literally!)
  7. Communicate, communicate, communicate (and make it someone's responsibility in IT)
  8. Leverage trusted advisors
He didn't come out and say it in his keynote but in a talk later in the day I got the impression he had a 9th factor which would go something like "Start small and iterate quickly".  It's nice to see successful organizations subscribing to the same principles as your own.  They're just a little further down the path than we are at Ivey and I hope to stand on the shoulders of HBS in order to accelerate ourselves. You can get a sense for the keynote from this interview Campus Technology did back in April.   

Conference Themes

I must admit that the themes I spotted at the conference were different than what I expected.  I expected a major theme to be cloud computing but it was barely even mentioned.  Other themes that received little or no attention: classroom A/V, eReaders, IT infrastructure, IT methodologies (ok, I'm not surprised about this one).  Below are the major themes that I picked out.

Distance Learning
This one comes as no surprise as higher ed institutions try to either bring in new revenue or reduce costs of delivering courses.  The industry has been working on this for some time and it looks like it'll be some time still before we can deliver a good student experience to remote learners.

Post-LMS World
The LMS (or Learning Management System) is considered a table stake technology for any educational institution.  Ivey has a homegrown LMS.  UWO uses WebCT (now Blackboard).  Moodle and Sakai are viable open source options as are others.  At the conference there seemed to be an underlying theme that the LMS as we know it today (calendars, events, forums) are outdated concepts and not in step with how students of today communicate.  There was an emphasis on leveraging modern collaboration and social networking tools.  A move away from "management" towards "personal collaboration".

There seemed to be an explosion of ePortfolio vendors at the conference.  I must admit that I wasn't familiar with the term prior to the conference but now feel sufficiently schooled to at least describe what it means.  An ePortfolio is an personalized, online aggregation of a student's achievements in not only academics but also in other activities such as volunteerism, sport, clubs, etc.  Think of it as a mash up between LinkedIn, Google Profile, Facebook, and Dropbox.

The community seemed to collectively recognize that students entering higher education did more communication via handheld devices (like iPhones, Androids, and even Blackberrys) than they did on laptops and computers.  A few schools were experimenting with mobile offerings but most were not even that far.

Academic Content Support
I was surprised to learn that many schools offer Academic Content Support via their IT organizations.  This type of support involves aiding faculty in the creation and maintenance of the content they use for teaching.  This might mean developing interactive web content to use in class.  It might mean adapting a lecture for display on an interactive whiteboard.  It might mean developing a mobile application.  It might mean aiding in the selection of a simulation vendor.  It might mean recording and/or editing video for use in a class.

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