Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Geek in Residence on 03-11-2008

I arrived home from Educause 2008 on Friday night at 10:30 after the ‘milk-run’ flight from Orlando to Memphis to Toronto under a code Orange Security Advisory .

Yes, I know how to have fun.

My back hurts, I am recovering from four days of low fibre intake, a banking scare (that’s NOT my balance) and security escorts to my scarily remote hotel room.  That said — I have a buzz of happiness that I am hoping will last at least til week’s end!  I got to hang out with the higher ed IT nerds for a few days AND I have some ideas to share!

For those who have never heard of  EDUCAUSE, it is “a nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology”.  It is an international conference for nerds, educators and IT executives.

I went for insights around IT integrations, community building and communications with students.  I left with new friends, fresh concepts and new perspectives.

I will share my experience here in a series of nine posts beginning (at the end) with my notes from the final (standing ovation) talk “Why IT Matters: A Presidents Perspective on Technology and Leadership” by Freeman A. Hrabowski III, President of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

More notes will follow from other talks that taught me something:

  1. How to Use Technology to Be Funny and Successful by Professor Peter Jonas of Cardinal Stritch University.  I was the only U of T person to attend this talk (or at least confess to attendance).
  2. Is IT Really Strategic for Higher Education? The Annual Gartner/EDUCAUSE Update by Michael R. Zastrocky, Vice President and Research Director, Academic Strategies of Gartner.  This was Michael Zastrocky’s last EDUCAUSE hurrah — he is soon to be retired after a 41 year committment to IT in higher education.
  3. Can One Institutional Calendar, Used Creatively Boost Retention by Rita Cheng, Provost and Vice Chancellor and Bruc Maas, Chief Information Officer of University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  This was talk that had me doing cartwheels.  One word … Zimbra.
  4. Managing Student Disputes through Technology by Aline Grossman, Executive Director Business Integrated Services and Traci Hardy, Project Manager of the University of Phoenix and Maddy Lakshmanan, Project Lead of Apollo Group, Inc.  This peaked my curiosity — how does one take the human touch out of something that is very human: conflict and dispute.
  5. The Unique Human Brain: Clues fromNeurology by V.S. Ramachandran, Professor and Director of the Center for Brain and Cognition, University of California, San Diego.  The conference opened with this talk — if Professor Ramachandran hadn’t been an academic, he could have been a stand-up comedian.  What interested me most though, was his approach to problem solving.
  6. Don’t Call It a Blog, Call It an Educational Publishing Platform by W. Gardner Campbell, Dir., Acad. for Teaching and Learning; Assoc. Prof. of Lit. and Media, Hnrs Coll, Baylor University and James Groom, Instructional Technology Specialist, University of Mary Washington.  Hmmmm … was this a talk about innovative use of blogs in education or a strategy for ousting Blackboard?
  7. Crisis Communications: The Virginia Tech Response by Larry Hincker, Associate Vice President, University Relations, Virginia Tech.  This seems to have been the year for talking about crisis communications in higher education.
  8. Meeting or Managing?  Responding to Student Expectations through Policy and Practice by Louse Thorpe, Head of Academic Innovation, Sheffield Hallam University.  I will be writing to Louse Thorpe who agreed to share a popular guide developed at Sheffield Hallam based on diaries, interviews and experiential feedback from students:  11 Things Not To Do With Blackboard.

There was one other talk I attended that I struggled to take something away from — I am left with a subtle amusement for the comment “push technologies are the devil’s work” and the hope that I don’t hear the term ‘cloud computing’ for at least a few months.

Formal discussion groups were a new thing for me this year – I attended two.  They confirmed a reality for me; that the communications divide between IT practitioners and IT communicators remains wide — the “us vs them” mentality seems not to have evolved much.  The comment “it’s really easy to hate IT” tells me there is still much to do around organization stability and reputation building.

Stay tuned for my next post and notes on “Why IT Matters: A Presidents Perspective on Technology and Leadership“…