I was watching the Twitter stream for the ASCILITE 2009 conference this morning during the final keynote from @jamesclay with a certain amount of dismay as tweets regarding the ‘Innovation Prevention Department’ (IPD) started to appear. The reference was to IT Services organisations in tertiary education. Now I wasn’t at the conference so I don’t know the context of the IPD in James’s talk but I do feel the need to comment on this notion of innovation prevention by IT Departments [Edit: 10 December, 2009. Please see James’s comments about context – in fact the notion of an IPD may be any organisational unit within a tertiary education institution]. Some of you may be aware that I am a senior IT Manager for one of Australia’s largest universities (70,000 headcount, 46,000 EFTSU). I normally only comment on general educational technology issues and not work related matters. I am going to make an exception this time.
I have worked with and for six universities in the UK and Australia over the last twenty years. The last eleven months have been my first in a central IT organisation. Previously I spent ten years as a lecturer and the rest of my time as a software developer/consultant/contractor/elearning manager. Prior to my current position it is fair to say that I have been reasonably critical of central IT organisations in tertiary education. It was a mutual dislike. A group that I once worked in was described as ‘rogue programmers’ by the university Director of IT. We, in turn, thought of them as being risk averse, conservative, slow and rigid.