Last week while hosting one of my Coffee with Cole sessions I shared a few items that I am working on and I got a somewhat surprising reaction. One of the people there said something to the effective of, “wow, I had no idea we were doing all of that!” I know I shouldn’t be surprised by that because I have so little time or opportunity to share all of what we are working on … it did, however, strike me as an opportunity to go back to doing something I really love doing — making podcasts to share with my team.
I remember back in 2005 when I became the director of Education Technology Services at Penn State I was using podcasts internally to help share the work of our team with both the outside world and internally. There was a method to the madness — we were launching our institutional podcasting service so I was also trying to promote the use of the technology in an interesting way. I remember getting good feedback from members of my team — they said things like, “wow, I had no idea we were doing all of that!” Sounds pretty familiar. Podcasting some thoughts and updates served to bring my team into a larger conversation at the organizational level, while still letting them focus on their specific work. That was a good idea then and I hope it is a good idea now.
The notion of sharing information is a tricky one. Quite a bit of what I am doing isn’t really all that shareable … a lot of it is either in-process thinking or stuff still in the negotiation process. That shouldn’t stop me from trying to connect some dots across DoIT though and so with that in mind, I am going to work to release a short audio update on a regular basis. This past week I released the first one using our private Yammer space and got a decent reaction from members of the DoIT team. I did have a couple people say that there are folks outside DoIT who might be interested in listening and since this first one doesn’t have an super secret stuff in it, I am including it below.
If you listen and have any thoughts about this notion, please share them in the comments.
This spring I will be back in front of a class teaching, Disruptive Technologies (CDT 450: Topics in Computational Arts) for the first time here at Stony Brook. This is a class that I co-created and co-taught at Penn State as a graduate seminar with my great friend and colleague, Scott McDonald. This will be the first go of it by myself and I suspect it will be quite different not having my co-conspirator by my side … with that said, I have plenty ready to go. You can check out the course site and see what you think. The description the department provided is below. If you are a Stony Brook Undergrad, consider being part of this grand experiment!
An examination of current technologies that could be considered both as emergent and disruptive. The course is a combination of an examination of the way these technologies are used, an examination of the technologies themselves (looking “under the hood”), a dive into the scholarship of community, identity, design, and its interaction with disruptive technology. and creative re- (or miss-)application of the technologies. In other words—keeping with the automotive metaphor—we will not only kick the tires, but we will strip the whole vehicle down, understand how it fits together, and rebuild it with a new ability to see its potential. This course is designed in a “blended” model that will take advantage of all sorts of digital tools and online spaces. This course is different from your typical undergraduate course; it is approached as a grand experiment, which will evolve and grow over the semester, with on-the-fly changes to the design based on your work, thoughts, and feedback. Prerequisites: CDT 208 (MUS/THR/ARS 208) and one 300-level course from CDT, ARH, ARS, CAT, CS, EST, MUS, THR, or a course approved by cDACT Director.
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.
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.
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.
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!