People that know me know that I didn’t always agree with Steve Jobs but I have no doubt of his creative skill and vision and his impact on modern life. I also think he had a huge impact on education and not always in the ways you might expect. I’ve been watching the Stanford University commencement address given by Steve Jobs in 2005. I had never seen it before his death on Thursday.
In his address he tells three stories about his life. The first is about his adoption and how his biological parents where determined that he be adopted by college graduates but that didn’t happen. In fact neither of his adopted parents had a college education. When Steve Jobs went to college himself he described how he effectively dropped out after six months. In his words what happened was that he then ‘dropped in’. He spent the next 18 months going to classes that interested him including a class on calligraphy that sparked an interest in beautiful typography. Ten years later when building the first Apple computer he used his understanding and knowledge from those classes to create what he describes as the first computer with beautiful typography. Continue reading →
As a ‘disenfranchised insider’ I really enjoyed reading Tony Bates’blog post ‘Reforming the university: evolution or revolution?’. In it Dr Bates discusses change in universities from a stakeholder point of view and considers Faculty, Students, Government and the Economy. He concludes by saying:
My view is that universities do need to change quite radically, and some form of direct intervention is needed to speed up the reform of the university. In other words, we need to build on academic contributions that suggest the need for and methods of change, and move these into some kind of movement for change. The stakes are high. Those countries that move quickly and successfully to bring about the much needed changes in universities will reap enormous benefits, educationally, economically and socially.
He then goes on to ask four questions of his readers.
Do universities need reform? Are they meeting the needs of the 21st century as well as can be expected, or do they need to change more quickly?
If they do need to change, what models or visions can we offer? What role should technology play in these models or visions?
If change is needed, what is the best way to bring about change in a timely and orderly manner? Or should we not worry about whether it is orderly?
Who will join me on the ramparts with my banner?
I have commented on Dr Bates’ blog but I do think it is worth expanding on some of those comments in my own post. So here are my answers to Dr Bates’ question. Continue reading →
I’ve been working on educational technology strategy and implementation for what feels like as long as I can remember but one thing I have always intended to do was to develop a visualisation of educational technologies in the form of a ‘map’. There are a number of such maps around already. Some of these are very good but they were never quite what I wanted. Specifically they focussed on the product rather than the tool or technology. So you would get a map that nearly always showed the LMS/VLE product at the centre with an eportfolio, some streaming media and some other technologies around the edge. I wanted something that showed the tools but also showed where they fitted in the landscape. Whether they were learning tools or management tools and whether the tools were focussed on the student or the staff member etc. I also wanted to get away from the LMS being at the centre of the tool map becuase the LMS is basically a collection of tools in one product that combine some management and some educational functionality. This isn’t because I am against the LMS as a concept but because I wanted to show that there are alternatives and that not everything needs to fit within an LMS. Continue reading →
For a long time I have been interested in organisational innovation. At the the moment that is focussed on the way that higher education and universities specifically can adopt and mainstream innovations in eductaional technicology and changing pedgagogy related to the adoption of new technologies. One barrier to innovation adoption may be related to the size of an organisation. I thought I would start by looking at the size of universities. The data for student enrolment at Australian universities are readily available in spreadsheet format. Being a visual thinker I like to put these into charts. This post doesn’t draw any conclusions it is simply designed as a starting point for a discussion with myself and anyone else who is interested in some the issues that affect innovation and mainstreaming of educational technologies. I’m also making these charts available for anyone that wants them. All of the data is in the public domain and links to them are included. Continue reading →
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.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I am currently working on a roadmap for educational technology in my university over the next ten years. Of course when looking over such a period it becomes crucial to try and anticipate the changing roles and functions of universities over that period so that we can think about the effect on educational technology.
Many commentators have speculated that the next ten years will be one of fundamental change for universities. Comparisons are made with the record industry ten years ago and the publishing industry at the moment – both faced with the hugely disruptive changes being bought about by new ways of learning and sharing on the internet.
I thought I would put my head above the parapet and share some of the thoughts I am having about the way universities might change and some of my initial conclusions. I say initial because my thoughts are changing all the time as I try and rationalise the very wide range of factors that may come into play over the next few years.
I’ve been re-reading the Tower and the Cloud over the last few weeks and was intrigued about the positions of the authors. It is interesting to note the number of Chief Information Officers (CIOs) that have contributed chapters to the book as well as prominent academics, consultants and higher education writers. Perhaps even more interesting is the number of CIOs who are also members of the academy. This seems to be a more common occurrence in US Universities than elsewhere. I guess it is reinforced for me by the fact that in many of the universities that I am familiar with the position of CIO does not exist at all at Vice President or equivalent level. Often Directors of IT are located in a resources portfolio along with other non academic service areas. Continue reading →