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If you’re a CIO or other senior level IT leader and you’re not actively looking to get out of the IT business, chances are you’re not doing your job right.
Economic challenges are driving systematic changes in higher education. Some might call it outsourcing and others might refer to it as shared services. For far too many, those words can refer to a loss of control and autonomy that appears disruptive to organizations, as it potentially leads to the loss of both service quality and jobs. At the University of Texas, over 100 faculty members signed a petition objecting to a University plan to consolidate common administrative functions – IT included – in order to save millions of dollars annually.

The Flinch and Other Traps

Everything that IT leaders do involves a negotiation in one way or another. Yet, focusing on negotiation skills is one of the last things we do when thinking about the professional development needs of our organizations.

Once, while thumbing through a magazine on a cross-country flight, I noticed an advertisement featuring a very distinguished-looking gentleman named Chester Karrass, whose testimonial stated, “In business as in life, you don’t get what you deserve; you get what you negotiate.” Seeing this ad several times before, I decided “why not” and signed up for a Karrass negotiating seminar. While the content of the workshop was predominantly focused on buying and selling, what stuck with me was how applicable it was to the negotiations regarding the expectations and resources that IT leaders face every day.

The Operations – Concierge Divide

Of all the things I get to do at the University of Georgia, one of my favorites is my lunchtime reading clubs, which are groups of mid-career IT professionals who get together regularly to discuss an interesting book. Typically, half of each club’s members come from EITS, the central IT organization on campus, and the other half comes from UGA’s schools, colleges, or other units. This semester, one of the clubs is reading Gene Kim’s (@RealGeneKim) The Phoenix Project, and it is leading us through some very productive conversations on what service-oriented cultures really are – and more importantly, what they are not.

Computers are no substitute for good teachers . . .

Or, a more adept phrase might be – what I’m thinking about as I prepare for EDUCAUSE next week. When reviewing the conference program, one can’t help but be struck by the degree to which the agenda is dominated by topics covering the (potential) impacts of technology on learning. I’m pretty sure that many attendees would agree with the statement that technology itself is no panacea for the present challenges of higher education – equality of access, adequate preparation of incoming students, escalating costs, and graduate preparedness. When thinking of these challenges, my mind harkens back to my own higher education – an experience where good teachers were absolutely critical in providing me with support and mentoring, and that experience was a very big part of putting me on a path of lifelong learning.

Ben or Larry?

Over the past few weeks I have been reading news reports discussing potential candidates to replace Ben Bernanke, the retiring chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve. One leading candidate, Larry Summers - a former U.S. Treasury Secretary and president of Harvard, is well known for being polarizing and sometimes abrasive. Summers has his fair share of supporters and detractors alike. What I have found interesting is the discussion of Bernanke’s leadership style and the contrast with that of his would be successor.

Regarding Bernanke.

Clayton Christensen: The Real Disruption for Higher Education

I found today, following a Tweet from my good friend Stephen Landry (@landryst), one of the more concise and powerful explanations from Clayton Christensen regarding the present challenges for higher education. These challenges have more to do with basic economic principles than disruptions posed by technology or the Internet.
Historically there has never been competition on the basis of price. Colleges would compete by adding professors, enhancing programmes or building nicer facilities. So they competed by making institutions better. This initiates retribution [from other colleges] which make things better and better. And every step adds cost. So the cost of higher education has increased faster than healthcare. And there just isn't any more space in the budget to do this. So this year you are seeing, in a fixed cost environment, that colleges need to fill all their spaces.

Randy Pausch's Boldest Innovation

A central concern with MOOCs and other student directed learning experiences is that by decentering the traditional gatekeeping role of teachers, such experiences lack an authoritative center for determining the rigor and depth of a course as well judging the mastery of learning outcomes by students. In a traditional one-to-many style of pedagogy, teachers simultaneously perform the roles of content creator, disseminator, and arbitrator of student success. The basis for academic rigor is based on structures such as the credit hour – students meet for three hours a week, complete three hours of homework between meetings, and repeat this cycle for 15 weeks.

Why MOOCs are like Farmville, Part II

On January 18th, I laid out my concerns with Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs), understanding their rapid ascent within the confines of Gartner’s Hype Cycle. In doing so, my purpose was to suggest that the true innovations posed by MOOCs will be much different than what is commonly presumed.

Three Vexing Problems and their Common Origin

Walk around any institution of higher education, even those well known for effective delivery and use of information technology, and you will find the following to some degree or another.

The 'Sage on the Stage' and the End of the Classroom Lecture

I remain a traditionalist, a traditionalist in the sense that I believe the most important relationship on any college campus – the one with greatest potential to impact students in a positive way – is the relationship between students and faculty. I also believe that, at its core, this relationship has to be about the processes of discovery and innovation. There is nothing more impactful on students than faculty who conduct research in the lab, in the field, or in the library, and who then bring their innovations into the classroom each day.


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