Chromebook Thoughts

This isn’t my first foray into the world of Google Chromebooks, but I am looking at them through a new lens after seeing some interesting things at the Gartner Expo last week. I will have lots to say about these things as I spend my time using it more and more. I am not yet committing to a 30 Day CB Challenge or anything, but I am considering it. I like the ease of use of the devices and I really like that they promote the use of Drive and the overall Google Apps for Edu suite we have in use here at Stony Brook.

ChromeBook

If I did do a challenge, I would want to invite an handful of participants to spend 30 days living on a CB as their primary machine. I’d love to have a few students, some faculty, and some staff to put these things through the paces and report on our collective experiences.

The overriding question is, can something as simple (and yet powerful) as a machine that runs really only a browser be competent as a work class machine. That is a worthy experiment that has been answered in other contexts, but not quite ours.

Until then I’ll be bouncing back and forth between this little device and my MacBook, iPad, and iPhone. The immediate limitation I have discovered is that so far I haven’t gotten 1Password to work, but I am guessing a simple google result will help that. If you are interested in exploring this territory with me, leave a comment or come find me.

#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.

doit_Staff.001

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.