Earlier this week a conversation started on the EDUCAUSE CIO list regarding individuals (and departments) picking their own tools to perform their job functions even if it duplicates something offered centrally. I responded with some partial thoughts that I thought I’d try and flesh out here.
Today I read a really interesting piece in the EDUCAUSE Review by Josh Kim, Not a Future CIO. There’s a great deal in there to digest, and it’s worth your time to read. Josh presents the conundrum many higher education IT professionals (including instructional support folks) have. “Do I want to be a CIO?”
I saw a post today on Seth Godin’s blog about Scientific Management and how it is being extended to white collar workers. Loosely speaking this is extending the idea that factories measure everything their workers do to ensure they are as efficient as possible to include the work done by almost everyone. There is always a desire (and perhaps even a need) to measure the work being done in your organization, but if you aren’t careful you will fall into the measurement trap.
For folks working in higher education, it’s that time of year again. We are all preparing to welcome (and welcome back) our students and start the fall semester. Watching the students get to various offices and step through the myriad of processes, I can see that there are some things that work well and others that don’t. Some of these things are one time activities, so if they aren’t completely smooth that might be OK. But some are ongoing activities, and if they aren’t going well they will serve as a constant irritant for the student’s entire stay with us. It’s like gum on the bottom of your shoe. As an individual event this isn’t a big deal. But every step after that is a reminder that you stepped in gum, and at some point you’re going to have to stop and deal with it.
Today I read this really interesting piece from David Jones titled, “Homogeneity: the inevitable result of a strategic approach?” It’s short and worth the read. The basic premise is that defining the work we do based on a strategic approach yields a non-differentiated result (my words, not his). That is to say, every institution starts to look kind of the same. As I said, interesting.
On Monday our new portable green screen setup was delivered. I managed to make it all the way until Tuesday to get it out and give it a first run. We don’t have anyone on staff with any real experience with green screens, so we got Chris Mattia from Callinectes Training to do a consult with us, and as part of that we got an equipment list we used to guide our purchases. Here are a couple of pictures of the rig setup in our faculty learning lab.
As you look to move your career in higher education IT forward and explore new opportunities, it is important to understand the kinds of work that excite you, the challenges you like to tackle, the work environment in which you thrive, and the institutional values that are important to you. Self evaluation, guidance from mentors, and investigating potential institutions all play an important role in making an informed decision about the next step you take in your career.
When I was in college I was part of Hoof ‘n’ Horn, the south’s oldest student run musical theatre organization. (full disclosure: I worked backstage; I can’t act my way out of a paper bag). We put on three major shows every year, and as part of that experience everyone on the cast and crew got custom made t-shirts. Even for the largest productions, that generally amounted to about 30 – 40 shirts. In college student dollars these things were expensive. Really expensive. One year I asked our silk screen vendor what we could do to lower the price to the cast/crew. His answer: buy 100 shirts.
We recently started an engagement with a consulting group to help us develop some project management processes. As we’ve been working through all this, one of the consultants asked me what my vision for IT my current institution is. I’ve had a few other people asked me similar questions, and I thought it might be interesting to share my thoughts here (plus later I can just give folks this URL).
There’s a great piece out from the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) entitled “The Next Generation Digital Learning Environment: A Report on Research” that, if you haven’t yet, is worth a read (and it’s thankfully not embargoed like so many EDUCAUSE publications). The piece articulates some things we’ve been grappling with here with regards to the LMS.