He who laughs last…

May 22, 2013 § Leave a comment

At the 2010 Educause National Conference, two colleagues, David Staley and Ken Udas, and I presented “The University as an Agile Organization” (see presentation PDF here). Within the session, we supposed how the organization and operation of a college or university might be enabled–and benefit–through the principles behind the Agile Manifesto, especially in light of various trends in technology, teaching and learning, and management emerging within not only education, but institutions of higher education as well.

In the session, David Staley, offered…

a “university as a networked complex adaptive system is permeable (no formal admissions process); consists of voluntary and self-organizing associations of teachers and students; consists of a self-organizing and intellectually fluid curriculum; does not offer tenure to professors (longevity is determined by the community), who move fluidly between the “real world” and the university; is governed by protocols based on community values and mores rather than on administrative rules and fiats; does not grant diplomas (but does grant certificates); encourages play (and even failure); is governed by “intellectual barter” and makes all knowledge created therein free to anyone; has a fluid temporal structure: there are no “semesters”; teaching and learning are ongoing activities.

I think this just may be the best description I have heard, not for MOOCs specifically, but the environment that has created and allowed MOOC’s (and the various MOOC-like organizations that have benefited from their rise, e.g. Coursera, EdX, Udacity), to emerge, not only as a platform, but as an educational development and delivery model.

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Agile Adoption in Higher Ed IT (one measure)

January 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

For some time I have been advancing Agile methods, specifically within Higher Education’s Information Technology offices. Beginning in 2012 I began weekly queries of Higher Ed Jobs (www.higheredjobs.com) to identify IT specific jobs which include “Agile” or “Scrum” within their job descriptions. These are then compared to all IT specific jobs posted to the job search site. In order to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the IT industry’s adoption of Agile methods, I added Dice (www.dice.com) in the second week and Indeed (www.indeed.com) in the third.

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What’s In Your Wallet?

May 18, 2009 § Leave a comment

What’s the prevailing business management strategy of the day (i.e. governance, decision-making, planning, change management, leadership, visioning, etc.), not just for Higher Education or IT?

The Question Shouldn’t Be; “Why IT Projects Get Killed…”

June 4, 2008 § 1 Comment

It should be, “Why IT projects get started.”

CIO Insight just published the top five reasons why IT projects are killed. According to the a survey of 167 IT executives, conducted by The Information Systems Audit and Control Association, the reasons were:

  1. The Businesses needs changed (30%)
  2. The project does not deliver what was promised (23%)
  3. The project is no longer a priority (14%)
  4. The budget was exceeded (13%)
  5. Does not support the business strategy (7%)

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I Have a Suggestion, “No more Suggestions!”

January 23, 2007 § 1 Comment

It seems like when organizations begin to explore “community” one of the first suggestions is to create a suggestion box. The idea is that end-users and stakeholders can contribute directly to the decision-making of the IT department by suggesting some of the hot topics they would like to see addressed. From these requests, the IT staff will not only learn of the important issues facing users, but also be able to use the information to help prioritize their project list. In theory it sounds great. This transparent process, it is hoped, will engage users, identify future projects and even define priorities.

While the overarching strategic goal—involving the community—should be the basis for IT decision-making and development, suggestion boxes and similar tactics (surveying, committees, etc.) that provide unqualified directions will, in the end, prove detrimental to the department’s operations and reputation.

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“I Spy for the CIO”

January 1, 2007 § Leave a comment

I recently came across two interesting articles that got me thinking about the validity of my own work with Agile Project Management (APM).

Open-Source Spying,” by Clive Thompson, published in the December 3, 2006 of the New York Times Magazine.

The Political Brain: A recent brain-imaging study shows that our political predilections are a product of unconscious confirmation bias,” by Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic Magazine and contributer to Scientific American.

APM’s two tenets are collaboration (community development) and evidence-based (just-in-time) decision-making. For any meaningful collaboration to occur, and to reap the benefits from peer review, all stakeholders must be aware of any and all activity underway regarding the project. Eric S. Raymond, declared “Linus’ Law” as “given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow,” or more formally, “Given a large enough beta-tester and co-developer base, almost every problem will be characterized quickly and the fix obvious to someone.” While this has traditionally been applied in software development, I see the same principle extremely valuable to project management in general: Aren’t your faculty, staff and students beta-testers and your facilities, finance and student life departments, co-developers? Sharing everyones issues (bugs) will not only expose them to more brains, brains that might help resolve those issues, but also help to assess their priority (insignificant to show-stopper).

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Is it in IT?

December 3, 2006 § Leave a comment

There seems to be a lot of talk about who “owns” various, previously considered IT, services and systems.

I recently attended the SUNY Teaching and Learning with Technology Conference and there was an interesting discussion specifically regarding the place of on-line and distance education within the campus’ organizational structure, particularly one like SUNY with 64 distinctive campuses. (This discussion was really lead by the SUNY DOODLE group)

This same discussion, again specific to on-line education, also took place at another recent SUNY event, the SUNY Council of CIO’s. There I noted that while many campus CIO’s have direct reports responsible for their institution’s on-line/distance learning programs (like I do), many other campuses house their programs under Chief Academic Officers/Provosts, Continuing Education, Business and Finance, etc.

With today’s diverse technology landscape many campuses are struggling with how to organize technology services and systems within the institution. While Information Technology departments have traditionally been responsible for development and support of everything from the projectors in smart classrooms to the the applications they project, other campus service providers (Facilities, Registrar, etc.), and in the case of teaching and learning even faculty, are striving to make more services/systems available to achieve their own specific missions. The result is often tension between the technical staff who must maintain a service or system and the end users who rely on its functionality.

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