It's important to take advantage of vacation time. This is your time, use it well. I recommend you "unplug" from work: don't check email, avoid writing web code. In short, take a break!
June 2011 Archives
Earlier this year, Pam and I started work on a campus technology survey. As part of that process, we pulled together interested parties from across Morris, and asked for their help in identifying new questions that we should ask this year (and of course, edits to questions asked in previous surveys.)
Among the new questions we discussed: What are students preferences towards e-books and e-textbooks?
The survey will go out to faculty and students this fall, and I'll be very curious to see the results. Especially the response to the e-textbooks question.
Higher ed is already seeing a shift away from traditional bound textbooks, to electronic textbooks. The popularity of e-book readers (including Amazon's Kindle, and the e-book reader on the iPad) begs the question: how should we deliver books to our students?
The Chronicle of Higher Education asked this question last fall. From the article:
To understand what a radical shift that would be, think about the current textbook model. Every professor expects students to have ready access to required texts, but technically, purchasing them is optional. So over the years students have improvised a range of ways to dodge buying a new copy--picking up a used textbook, borrowing a copy from the library, sharing with a roommate, renting one, downloading an illegal version, or simply going without. Publishers collect a fee only when students buy new books, giving the companies a financial impetus to crank out updated editions whether the content needs refreshing or not.
Electronic textbooks may not be the one-size-fits-all solution that many universities are looking for. But it certainly plays a part in reducing costs across campus. Rand S. Spiwak, executive vice president at Daytona State, hopes to bring the cost of textbooks down by 75-80%.
Arthur Langer writes in CIO Insight about transition planning, and prepping our next-gen IT leaders. Much is written about the future of the CIO, especially about where the role is situated in connection with executive management. It appears that the CIO role is more important than ever before. The problem is, we are not seeing enough investment.
Langer gives these options to develop an organization's next generation of talented CIO leaders. The same concepts apply to identifying and developing talent generally:
- Rotational Programs. Put your star managers in six-month roles in the business units. This allows them to become much more knowledgeable about the operational aspects of the business. More importantly, it gives them exposure, so they become known across the organization.
- Education. Continuing education and conferences are fine, but allow your managers to enroll in a part-time degree program where they get exposed to a broader education and get to network with other executives. A committed degree program also nurtures a critical and reflective person, one who can think in the abstract--beyond just the concrete needs of the business today.
- Diversity. This issue is of paramount importance to our future generations. Diversity goes beyond the legal and corporate requirements. The world is flat, as they say, and having a pool of diverse candidates provides a company with broad knowledge and enhanced decisions. Leaders must promote more women and more ethnicity.
- Up and Out. Do not worry about losing those in whom you invest. It happens--and should happen. Great companies develop talented workers and lose some of them; there are only so many positions at the top. If you provide the program, those who leave will always remember it--as I have from my days at Coopers & Lybrand--and some will return.
In a related article, Dennis McCafferty asks: If you left your organization, who would replace you? The answer to this question is too often unknown, and many companies these days aren't paying enough attention to succession planning.
In fact, there really isn't a designated successor for the highest-level positions within a number of large businesses. The adverse impact of this lack of planning can be considerable: decreased productivity, weakened financial performance and an absence of strategic direction. Managers need to start looking ahead in more proactive fashion.
In April, Google updated the Google Apps service used by the U of M. Among the new features that were activated: voice chat.
You may have previously experimented with the chat feature as a way to communicate with others. With the new voice chat in Google, you can now make phone calls, and/or do direct video chat.
I've used the voice chat to make phone calls to folks in the Twin Cities over the last 2 months. I like it a lot! The voice quality is about that of a mobile phone. I speak in a normal voice, and my laptop's microphone and speakers act like a phone. But because all the voice traffic goes over the Internet, this also means I've significantly reduced the phone bills in my office.
Our students are already using this "voice over IP" ("VoIP") technology as a way to connect with others. If you hear someone talk of "Skype", it's basically the same thing.
College campuses are taking advantage of this transition to realize savings on their phone systems. e-Campus News wrote about colleges hanging up landline phones in dorms, in reference to students' preference of cell phones over corded phones.
In addition, industry estimates show 83% of today's 17-year-olds (tomorrow's college students) have their own cell phones, up from 64% five years ago.
The limited use of dorm phones reflects what's happening generally. 25% of American homes have now gone to cell phones exclusively. I'm one of these households; when my wife and I moved to Morris a year ago, we didn't bother with a land line. Instead, we use our mobile phones.
The results of the 2011 EDUCAUSE Current Issues Survey are now available. IT leaders ranked "Funding IT" as the number-one issue critical to their institution's strategic success. This year, "Mobile Technologies" rose into the top-ten.
View the complete results of the survey, including the top-ten issues and a summary of the results in this month's EDUCAUSE Review. For a quick summary, read the press release.
The top-ten issues, in order of importance, are:
- Funding IT
- Administrative/ERP/Information Systems
- Teaching and Learning with Technology
- Mobile Technologies
- Governance, Portfolio/Project Management
- Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity
- Strategic Planning