Openness Is More Productive

August 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

I just found this post on CIO Insight, Workplace Technology: Employees Take Charge.

What I find interesting is, that if one replaces the references to companies with references to campuses and online learning, I still sorta agree…

Remember the days when a CIO could simply dash off a memo to the entire [campus or system]  and say, “We are buying [some academic technology] for everybody and that is that …”? Well, that era may be coming to an end, according to research from IDG Research Services and RSA, which is the security division of EMC. Today, [student, faculty and campus] users of [online teaching and learning technology] have a great degree of influence on which [LMS’s, CMS’s, e-Portfolios, discussion forums, grade books, social bookmarking, graphics annotation, blogs, wiki’s] and other [academic technology] tools are used [in their courses]. And – even though [university systems and campuses] hardly encourage the practice – many [students, faculty and staff] use personal gadgets to tap into enterprise networks, email and [academic] applications. This practice presents considerable security issues, as the research shows breaches being reported by large enterprises. The general consensus appears to be “If we can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” In fact, CIOs and other IT managers concede that these trends are actually improving workplace productivity. The survey was commissioned from IDG Research Services by RSA. The report featured responses from nearly 40 CIOs and security/IT managers surveyed. Two thirds of those surveyed say that tools such as netbooks, tablets, smart phones and social media increase workplace productivity. More than one quarter of respondents say their company allows employees to use their own PCs/mobile devices for work.

While it is true that colleges and universities have a long tradition of committees to help in organizational governance and decision-making, I think this article points to the emergence of more informal, organic and collaborative processes in defining direction, or what I would label as openness.*

Considering this trend toward distributed decision-making, it will become imperative for organizations (including colleges and universities) to find methods to identify the growing interests in technologies and services among their staff and user-base. Interestingly, in my mind, the same research offers a viable approach: “More than 80 percent of companies now allow some form of access to social-network sites,” and; “Among companies that do allow access to social-network sites, 62 percent use these tools for external communications with customers, partners.” This “openness” say 63 percent of the CIOs, IT managers and security professionals surveyed, increases productivity.

* Openness is a very general philosophical position from which some individuals and organizations operate, often highlighted by a decision-making process recognizing communal management by distributed stakeholders (users/producers/contributors) rather than a centralized authority (owners, experts, boards of directors, etc.).


“Caught between the Scylla and Charibdes”

August 14, 2010 § 1 Comment

I just got back from a whirl-wind tour of higher education conferences: SUNY CIT, Jasig, NERCOMP Annual Conference, BbWorld, MoodleMoot Austin and the 2-3-98 Conference. At each of these events, business continuity was a significant theme both formally in the sessions offered, and casually, in-between presentations and around the tables during breakfast, lunch and dinner. Considering the continuing consolidation of technology providers and systems  affecting academic technology, SUN and Oracle, Blackboard and Angel, etc. and the havoc (real and imagined)  those merges and acquisitions cause on campuses, among faculty, staff and students and within IT shops, it’s understandable that this would be on the minds and lips of conference attendees. One debate that I keep hearing is specific to the LMS market: can Blackboard buy an open source project like Moodle or Sakai. And building on this, is Moodle or Sakai more vulnerable than the other to being purchased?

However  a more interesting scenario might be: Moodle buys Blackboard…

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