Sunday, January 29, 2012

This Week's Reading List

Traditional power brokers experience big time failure, CIOs who are losing control of IT, and faculty who know too much, all on this week's reading list.

"Chris Dodd's debut with Hollywood a flop"
Supporters of both SOPA and PIPA thought they had this one in the bag. They donated huge amounts of money to the right politicians, they enjoyed a huge head start, and they were represented by a retired U.S. Senator with gravitas. So what happened? Simply put, they ran right smack into the grassroots forces emanating from our many-to-many world. Traditional one-to-many notions of power and authority just aren't what they used to be.

"CIOs losing control of IT, survey says"
Hey CIOs, who among you wants to lose control over your mission and destiny? Here's a surefire way to do so: don't make the trains run on time, always speak in ways that are comprehensible only to people who work for you, and always make excuses and blame technology when things don't go as expected. Want to be a strategic partner and be seen as a business leader? Understand that your authority and credibility comes from operational excellence, understand your work through the lens of those who depend on you to do their jobs, and take responsibility for your IT service outcomes regardless of the cause of poor performance.

"Note to Faculty: Don't Be Such a Know-It-All"
Expectations for good teaching are changing and it is this shift that will ultimately change higher education for the better. Students see less and less benefit from a traditional one-to-many lecture based teaching experience. What they want are faculty who see themselves as conveners of crucial conversations and collaborations and who take responsibility for equipping their students to participate in meaningful ways. That is what teaching and learning becomes in a many-to-many world.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Major Updates, New Core Survey Instrument for the TechQual+ Project

One of my most important collaborations is working with dozens of institutions to develop outcomes-based benchmarking and assessment tools for CIOs and senior IT leaders in higher education. Known as the Higher Education TechQual+ Project, this effort aspires to provide the following:

  • a common survey instrument for assessing critical IT service outcomes that are expected by students, faculty, and staff and are generalizable across all types of higher education institutions;
  • a set of Web-based tools that allow CIOs and other senior IT leaders to conduct surveys and analyze the data without having to engage in the nitty gritty of conducting survey research;
  • a peer database that provides meaningful comparisons of IT service outcomes across the broad spectrum of higher education institutions, making TechQual+ surveys particularly relevant for accreditation efforts. 

As of today the project has been joined by 76 institutions who have created 190 surveys based on the core TechQual+ survey. Over 75,000 students, faculty, and staff have taken the survey and the TechQual+ database now contains over 1 million data points. All of these tools are free to adopt and use by non-profit higher education institutions. For more information please visit

For 2012 the core TechQual+ survey is being revised to reflect data obtained during focus groups conducted recently at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Boston University. You may view the draft of the 2012 TechQual+ survey revision by following this link:

2012 Draft TechQual+ Core Survey Revision

Participating institutions, and others, are encouraged to review and provide feedback on this draft revision of the core survey. To provide feedback please follow this link below.

Feedback on 2012 Draft Survey Revision

The updated core TechQual+ survey will be available for use by participating institutions on February 12, 2012. For more information on the timeline for this revision, and other Web site updates for the Higher Education TechQual+ Project, please read this announcement at the project discussion forums.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Top Ten Article!

I received an email that my EDUCAUSE Review article "Technical Skills No Longer Matter" was #10 on the list of most read articles in ER for 2011. How cool!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

This Week's Reading List

An exercise in rote, mediocre learning experiences, e-textbook savings hitting the bottom line of someone other than students, and the value of a college degree continues to be questioned, all on this week's reading list.

Stanford's experiment with the "flipped classroom" approach behind the Khan Academy runs into some unexpected criticism from students taking the online courses. This criticism: that "flipped" courses result in route learning experiences that lack challenge and fail to inspire students. Is this because we continue to leverage technology to replicate the one to many classroom lecture model, thereby focusing on scalability at the expense of better learning outcomes?

A study at Daytona State College found that students using e-textbooks only saved, on average, $1 compared to those who purchase traditional course materials. E-publishing should reduce textbook costs by eliminating printing, lowering distribution costs, and eliminating middlemen like the campus bookstore. If those savings are not going into the pockets of students or the scholars producing the content, then whose bottom line is benefiting?

A study by Georgetown's Center for Education shows that college graduates with degrees in the arts, humanities, and architecture faced significantly higher unemployment compared to graduates in health, education, business, and engineering. Critics of the liberal arts and humanities quickly latched onto these findings as further evidence that questions the value of a traditional liberal arts education. But, this study also finds that college graduates in the liberal arts and humanities do have significantly lower unemployment compared to those without any college degree. Behind the sensational headline there is a silver lining.

Monday, January 2, 2012

My New Year's Resolutions

Here are my resolutions for 2012.

1. Write more. Use both blogging and twitter as a part of my overall leadership and communication strategy for the IT organization I lead at the University of Georgia.

2. Reduce costs. Start my organization down the path to taking 5% out of our cost structure over the next 12 months, while increasing productivity so as to not reduce service quality.

3. Design and develop a new HR model for positions, career ladders, and professional development and lay the groundwork for implementation of this plan in 2013.

4. Nurture and develop individual leaders and groups to support the new student system implementation at UGA, so they are prepared to lead our University into what will undoubtably be a very challenging and demanding three years.

5. Reduce complexity. When it comes to both to our technological infrastructure and our internal processes and procedures, complexity and bureaucracy are holding us back. Those reporting to me will be encouraged (and held accountable) to make significant gains in this area in 2012.

6. Lose that last 15 pounds I have been working on for the past three months.

7. With my wife, find meaningful ways to become active in our new community.