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Educause: What Was Your Word?

October 24, 2011 - 0 Comments

I love Educause because there’s always buzz.  This year, it seemed to hit a high-pitched fervor.  The show comes alive and takes on a character of its own as technology leaders from across the country and globe share the challenges and issues that each of them is facing.  It takes on even more character in a city like Philadelphia where the sights and sounds of the Reading Terminal Market swirl around bustling show-goers who are trying to get in a quick Ruben sandwich in between sessions.  And, I was thrilled to know that the author of DIY-U, Anna Kamentz, would be there, imparting her unique perspective about students who will necessarily be designing their own unique ways to get a higher education.

One IT afficiando said to me, “It seems like each year, there’s a word that defines the show, and I think this year, it’s ‘cloud.’”  Someone else commented, “No, it’s the whole ‘open’ thing.” Another said, “Well, I think it’s really all about ‘remediation’ and ‘standards’ because our funding is going to hinge on this.”  It seems like everyone wants to find that one thing that will really impact them and their institutions, trying to get ahead of the wave so they don’t get engulfed by it.  Others said, “shared services, video, blended learning.”  I was most impressed by those colleges and universities that seem to be doing it all, driven by a unified vision around what’s really achievable.

West Texas A&M is a perfect example.  James Webb and Dr. De’Arno De’Armond showed what’s possible when a technology leader and faculty member join forces.  Working together, and in partnership with Cisco, Webb has designed a framework of pervasive video throughout the campus that touches everything from their web presence and learning management systems to smart classrooms and video conferencing.  Webb believes that video has helped increase engagement with faculty members and students alike.

Shah Ardalan, the CIO of Lone Star College, is using technology to deliver learning to 85,000 students per semester.  Cisco Lecture Vision is the engine being used to propagate video assets, in a simple and compelling way.

Deputy CIO Nancy Crouch from Wake Forest University is working with Cisco to change the way faculty, staff, and students interact with one another.  They’ll be the first university in the world to unite all members of their extended campus community with a site-wide license for Cisco WebEx Meeting Center.  Wake Forest Professor, Steve Nickles, said, “WebEx is so easy to use and so reliable that the possibilities for how students and faculty might implement the technology are endless.”

Running across Arch Street, balancing a Philly Cheese steak in one hand and hanging onto my laptop bag in the other, I saw the Educause sign and thought about Kamentz’s presentation, “Edupunks and the Transformation of Education.”  Reflecting on her perspective and the show, in general, I was hopeful, knowing that these leaders get it, and they just need help from the collective, executive management, private companies, and the public, to get where they know they need to go.

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