Building My Local Reading List

One of the reasons I love seeing blogging communities in higher education is because it gives me a chance to see the collective intelligence of that community come together.Even after only a couple of weeks, there are blogs popping up on SB You nearly every day. We’ve not done any marketing and have really kept things quiet so far as we kick the tires and figure things out around here, so to see people playing along is really very cool. To keep up, I’ve created a new Feedly account and have been adding new SB You blogs as they are being created. The only thing I was I could do was share this SB You collection like you could back in the days Google Reader.

Feedly SB You List

I am already seeing this emerge as something very positive for the Stony Brook community in general. I can only imagine how interesting it will get as we move into the spring semester and faculty start using blogs in their classrooms! I always loved seeing what people at Penn State were doing with their university blogs and I know this will be the same kind of thing.

New Round of Coffee with Cole

I cannot believe we’ve reached the end of the fall semester here at Stony Brook! The first four months of my time here has flown by and while I have tons of things to reflect on over the Holidays, the one thing I may have enjoyed the most has been the Coffee with Cole sessions. They filled up so quickly that lots of people got left out, so I decided to schedule another batch for the spring semester — oh, and did I mention I really liked them?

DoIT VP Coordinator’s Office

So do me a favor and jump over and pick a date in the spring where you can join me for coffee and open, informal conversations. And while you are at it, join the Yammer group!

Photo credits Todd Stadler on Flickr

SBU DoIT Update and Thinking

I had the chance to address University Senate last week for the first time here at Stony Brook. It gave me a chance to share my strategic priorities and observations from the first 80 days here at SBU. I included a screen shot of the five strategic priorities I am targeting in a post prior to the meeting, but have since added one other for us to consider. I thought it would be a good idea to share the six priorities with a little more context. Here are the six areas of focus for DoIT that I am proposing and that I discussed at Senate:

  1. Construct a world-class teaching and learning with technology organization and an appreciation for learning design.
  2. Create a competitive research computing infrastructure and services that support the needs of faculty across the research community.
  3. Provide a consistently safe, secure, and compliant information technology environment for Stony Brook.
  4. Provide services that greatly enhance the work of our faculty, staff, and students.
  5. Enhance a culture of operational excellence at Stony Brook.
  6. Encourage an agile, flexible, and forward facing staff who are leaders in their fields.

It is important that I take a minute to share at least a few sentences about each of the six items I am setting as priorities. I should also say that Stony Brook has made tremendous progress to date in several of these areas, but they are areas that I am interested in investing more organizational time, energy, and funding to strengthen. Below you can read some of my thoughts as they relate to these priorities. I could go on and on about each, but the better approach is for me to be lean in my remarks and encourage discourse … face to face, email, or via comments below.

Construct a world-class teaching and learning with technology organization and an appreciation for learning design.

This is something that I care deeply about and is one of the reasons I really wanted to come to Stony Brook. There is already an active investment in supporting teaching and learning with technology on campus and a culture that is embracing the value it brings. What I have come to see are the many opportunities for us to extend the incredible foundation that is in place. We live in a world where both faculty and students want to have more opportunities to engage in new forms of pedagogy, appropriately utilize new technologies in and around their classrooms, teach and learn in new modalities from hybrid and blended to fully online and MOOCs, and they want a place that can give them the courage to take risks. I believe that we have the potential to create a truly world-class set of services and offerings that can engage, enrich, challenge, and support the faculty and students of this university.

Create a competitive research computing infrastructure and services that support the needs of faculty across the research community.

Work has been done in this space already, but we need a consistent and common message going forward to take us to the next level. We are in the middle of hiring 250 new faculty on this campus to strengthen and forward the teaching mission as well as radically impacting our research output. We need to continue to invest in core infrastructure, but we also need to find new ways to engage faculty who are participating in new forms of scholarship from the arts, the humanities, the liberal arts, and so on. We need to give them the tools they need as well as construct environments where we can continue to grow our investment in big data, high throughput and high performance computing, and the things that make sciences and medical researchers successful. It means faster networks, but it also means finding ways to support early stage grants and prototype building.

Provide a consistently safe, secure, and compliant information technology environment for Stony Brook.

We have only just begun to fully understand the security challenges facing IT in general and we in higher education are fully aware of our responsibilities. With that said it is imperative that we find ways to systematically address new types of threats that are both local and international. We need to not only construct forward facing policies, but we need to find new ways to help our community understand and embrace them. We must make a commitment to both protect and provide an elegant user experience for our faculty, staff, and students.

Provide services that greatly enhance the work of our faculty, staff, and students.

I know it should go without saying, but the idea that we develop services that make life easier for our customers is critical to me. I would really like to say that all we do should delight them, but I know that is pushing it a bit far. I do want DoIT to establish a way of thinking that presses us to be aware of how our products and services actually work and function. I want us to focus energy on understanding and promoting strong senses of user experience and usability. I want us to consider how what we make impacts the community.

Enhance a culture of operational excellence at Stony Brook.

I am lucky to be a member of the project management office responsible for the Project 50 Forward initiatives. Having that opportunity has afforded me insight into the outstanding work we have done at Stony Brook to become more efficient on a daily basis. This is truly the place that I have learned the most about how we operate. Through that learning I am proposing that DoIT work to adopt many of the frameworks, approaches, and tenants of the Project 50 Forward initiative internally. I believe that by focusing efforts on increasing efficiency, enhanced vendor management, campus wide IT governance, and portfolio management we can find ways to both reinvest and reinvent ourselves.

Encourage an agile, flexible, and forward facing staff who are leaders in their fields.

I cannot stress how much I believe in the staff at DoIT. I have told everyone I know how amazed I have been at the individual and collective intelligence of this organization. I think it is a critical next step for us to take stock in providing deep and systematic professional development across the board. I think we can improve our work in ways that would be unimaginable without first investing energy inwards. I am committed to finding ways to make professional development a cornerstone of DoIT and I believe that by doing it, we will be stronger and more prepared to attack issues and trends as they emerge. I fully expect Stony Brook IT to be recognized as a model in higher education.

(Virtual) Coffee with Cole

I’ve been enjoying the Coffee with Cole sessions I’ve been doing every few weeks … so much that I intend to extend them and open some more up (so look for an invite). Since I can only do so many and that space is limited to five guests I decided to add a new channel to connect. I created an open group in the Stony Brook Yammer space called, “Coffee with Cole.” Please feel free to join the group and leave comments, post questions, or suggestions. I am subscribed to the group via email, so I should see everything that gets posted there. Join the conversation!

Coffee with Cole in Yammer

Presentation to Stony Brook Council

This morning I had my first opportunity to address the Stony Brook Council and share with them a bit about the work we do here at the University. I didn’t want to do a standard, “this is IT” update so I tried to share with them a handful of contemporary challenges we face every day across higher education and talk briefly about how we are addressing them. I wanted them to see IT in a different light, as what it really is — an enabler of success on our campus.

To that end I focused my remarks on a few core areas that I thought they might be less likely to associated with IT — teaching and learning, enabling access, security issues, and how we are helping to push the Operational Excellence agenda forward. I tried to keep it light, but also express how much we do to support the teaching, research, service, and administrative missions of the University. I’d be happy to share the presentation either face to face or online at some point.

Wireless Use

The talking points for the above slide really made an impact — people don’t think of the utter scale of connectivity we manage every minute on and around our campus. I pointed out that it isn’t just laptops anymore, that it is also phones, tablets, game systems, google glass, and other things consuming our connections throughout the day and night. I think it really hit home just how critical the network is when showed a slide that listed some of the other services that run on the network — door access, ticket sales, security cameras, digital signage, and more.

The other thing that was an interesting was to see the overall reaction to our focus on teaching and learning. They were very impressed with our participation and support of the first SBU MOOC … and I made sure to highlight bot the higher than normal completion rates and the unique local and distance students taking the course. I think it really illustrated how innovative we are. The other tidbit I made sure got in there was the rapid growth in technology supported classrooms … I made the case that technology is truly a competitive advantage on a campus, sometimes tipping a student towards enrolling here.

Classroom Growth

All in all I felt it was a good conversation and a good way to introduce our work to the Stony Brook Council.