#SBUDoIT All Hands Reflection

Earlier this week we held a DoIT All Hands meeting in Frey Hall. I can’t say for sure, but I think we had somewhere around 150 or more people there. The turn out was great and I really appreciated seeing so many now familiar faces. I am not a huge fan of large All Hands meetings, but when done right I see the value. This one was designed as a combination of a recap of the past year (my first on the job) and a look forward to where we are headed, what our priorities are, and to do a deep dive into the new DoIT Values. We decided to create a video to help communicate these things so we could reuse it across various media and in other venues. I am particularly proud of the team that produced the video. I thought it was a great way to kick off the meeting.

We decided to kick things off with a full five minutes of timed slides highlighting service awards, new hires, retirements, and a whole bunch of pictures from my first year on campus. I timed it to “Truckin’” by the Grateful Dead to keep it light. It was a way to share lots of stuff, show off the human aspect of who we are as an organization, and help people smile.

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I was struck by the thoughtful attention and questions that emerged from the session. I thought the questions were very good and were aimed at the more strategic level … they were stretch questions for the most part and people seemed engaged. It is such a difficult thing to balance information with interactivity … we got close, but I do think we can do a better job.

We sent out a survey following the event and have gotten solid feedback (keep it coming). A little early insight from the feedback includes the notion that we need to have a more diverse set of speakers (something that I recognized as I was putting the finishing touches on the agenda). We will do a better job at that going forward — and that means I would like to see people from all parts of DoIT contributing in the future. I also see that people want to do more of these … some even suggesting every month … I can’t pull that off, but we could settle into a good pattern of twice a year with some other events mixed in as well. Several people want to expand it so we can have some break out sessions and I would like to explore that. All in all it seemed as though people were pleasantly surprised with the time we spent together. Always room to improve and I listen to that feedback critically.

What I really tried to do during my update was to contextualize how and why our DoIT Value statements are actually a very important driver of our organization. For each statement I tried to hit home at least three examples of why that value is important and how we are manifesting our work through them. Some are easy to get, like “communicate,” while others like, “grow” are much more nuanced. I think I spent more time with grow than any of the others … I am particularly interested in focusing quite a bit of energy in building a strong organizational foundation around that value.

At the end of the day I had a blast talking to everyone. It surprised me how much energy was put into the event and the intellectual toll it took on me that afternoon. It was time well spent, but it was draining. The networking time afterwards was also a highlight — lots of people stayed and talked to me and each other. A huge thank you to everyone who attended and who put so much effort in making the time together worthwhile. The great news is that we will be getting together again in a few weeks at the first annual DoIT Football Tailgate — that should be a great time!

Letter regarding the final report of the Institute-wide Task Force on the Future of MIT Education

The past few years have brought mounting evidence that higher education stands at a crossroads. As with any disruptive technology, MOOCs have been viewed with enthusiasm in many quarters and skepticism in some. However, the underlying facts are inarguable: that the rising cost of education, combined with the transformative potential of online teaching and learning technologies, presents a long-term challenge that no university can afford to ignore.

via Letter regarding the final report of the Institute-wide Task Force on the Future of MIT Education | MIT News Office.

A Year of Posts

Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 12.02.06 PMIt is hard to imagine I am arriving at my one year anniversary of joining Stony Brook University. Yesterday marked one year since I walked out of my office at Penn State for the last time after 15 years and in the next nine days it will mark a year since I walked into my new office at SBU. I am going to work on a reflection, but for now I just want to share that this space has been helpful for me to work through some ideas in public. And while I didn’t write as much as I hoped, I did get at least something out each month — I did get 52 posts in for the year so I guess an average of one a week isn’t too bad. There were times when I even got some comments and that is something I truly appreciate and hope for more of. I am starting to see other people around DoIT use the SB You platform to write and reflect — that also makes me smile as it is one indicator of an engaged organization. Perhaps over time more of us will find voices either through original posts or through the act of leaving comments.

I think using a platform like this is a great illustration of our DoIT Values, number one in particular, “Communicate: We are committed to engagement, communication, and sharing information with a human voice.” With that in mind I will commit to writing and sharing more and I hope that each of you consider how you can show a belief in our shared value. It doesn’t have to be through blog posts, but finding time to share your view of how we do our work in an authentic way is a critical part of what we do.

New York State CIO Conference

It has been so hectic that I failed to share my thoughts on the 2014 NYSCIO gathering that I attended. It was my first one and my first time getting to spend time around the amazingly beautiful Finger Lakes. This event was once again held in Skaneateles, NY and if you haven’t made the five hour trip, consider it worthwhile. The event was exceptional and I not only learned quite a bit, but got to engage in great conversations with new and old colleagues.

I really liked the quick hitting format of the event. Most sessions were panels so there were a diversity of perspectives shared during each 75 minute block of time. It was all in a general meeting room, so the agenda was set for all of us, in other words, no changing rooms. The event packed as much content into the format as possible, with a dinner reception as a kick off with Dr. Satish K. Tripathi, President, University at Buffalo giving a great talk, “Threats and Opportunities for Information Technology in Higher Education – A President’s Perspective.” I found it valuable in terms of how a President of a University views IT and how to help shape that view. Exceptionally smart discussion.

The next morning was the meat of the meeting with sessions presented by Gartner on The Higher Education CIO World in 2014, a panel on Preparing for Changing Enrollment Demographics that I found fascinating as I am newer to that conversation at the VP level and it is outside of my direct area, another panel titled, the Digitization of Education: Selected Instructional Uses of Technology & What Higher Ed CIOs Need to Know About Them that I really enjoyed and had plenty of take aways from, and a closing session that was a real highlight titled Data Loss Prevention – How a lot of effort can potentially save you a lot of money. Each session provided depth and some real world stories that I made sure to write down. The day wrapped up with a reception and dinner at a local vineyard with a keynote from NYU’s CIO, Marilyn McMillan.

I ended up having to leave earlier than expected and missed a chance to see my old friend and colleague Brian Alexander whom I greatly admire and respect. I have seen Brian on numerous occasions, but it is was a drag to miss the chance to hear him talk. I did however spend lunch with him the day before talking about trends and the world as he sees it. Brian recently started his own consulting company and was also just joined the New Media Consortium as their research director. Leaving early also meant missing Jeff Selingo, who I also really enjoy and respect. Because of that I have vowed to read his book, “College (Un)Bound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students” … knowing Jeff it will be well worth it. Below are some unedited thoughts and highlights from a few of the sessions.

Higher Education CIO in 2014

  • The position of “Chief Digital Officer” (or someone serving in a like role) is set to triple in the next year to focus on adaptive eTextbooks, MOOCs, Mashware, and other new forms of digital technologies in the ed tech space
  • Next phase will be digitalization leading to education as a digital business — providing new service delivery and business models. This will continue to challenge enrollment, libraries, IT departments, and curricular design.
  • When we are talking through this new form of leadership, it isn’t solely about technical capabilities, but about all the issues surrounding technology in the context of higher education expectations and change
  • A critical idea is to produce “technology showcases” to make the community more aware of IT offerings
  • “Every budget is an IT budget”

Digitization of Education

  • At NYU, they have a critical governance group … Faculty Committee on the Future of Technology Enhanced Education. This is something we need to consider doing in a functional way.
  • Creation of a studio for the construction of small pieces to enhance resident instruction called the “Blended Learning Studio.” Contains a Smart Board, lighting, camera, provides safe practice space, very little editing, spend about an hour with each faculty member and then use their own time after that. It sounds a lot like the Media Commons approach at PSU with the One Button Studio.
  • Instructional Technology Support at NYU

Security

  • “You can’t stop stupid, you can only slow it down.”
  • “If you cannot enforce a policy, don’t write them.”
  • Data classification policy … 1. Sensitive: PII/PHI/Student, 2. Confidential: contract — no government fine, 3. Internal: proprietary, 4. Public: on the web freely available
  • “We let people do anything they want unless it is wrong” at Columbia
  • Losing 5000 SSN can cost close to 500k … we need to make this very clear to institutional leaders that