An article in the Chronicle references a study that cites carelessness as the major factor in IT problems , not viruses. Virginia Rezmiersk, from the University of Michigan, found that 40 percent of computer incidents are caused by careless actions.

Primarily, she said, the problems resulted from inadequate training to help computer users avoid trouble and from insufficient policies to deal with problems that do arise. Rezmierski said the results support her contention that many colleges and universities moved too quickly to implement IT systems without necessary “rules and policies about how we want to operate in a shared-resource environment.”

This supports my personal experience that IT is cast so often in the role of a change agent that precious little resources are left for business process details or policies. Inevitably this comes around to haunt us. It is also a point of friction within various areas within projects as members of project teams have difficulty completing and implementing their communication plans or fail to fully anticipate the results of decisions on other team members or aspects of the project. Of course, who suffers the most are our end users who are left as after thoughts to figure it out. While systems are argueably getting better and users are becomming more sophisticated, we continue to experience gaps. It’s a challenge, but no one said it would be easy.

If you are old enough to remember higher educations attempt at synchronous teaching models via expensive teleconferencing systems, I am sure you are thinking the old adage, “What goes around comes around. ” That being said, the synchronous component of DE is going to experience a re-birth via new technologies and web business models that are evolving thanks to Web2.0. Applications like Google Talk, Gizmo, Skype, collaborative tools such as Writely, along with opensource initiaives such as the SAKAI Project . We are going to witness ever increasing ways in which to engage students and rethink instructional pedagogy. These tools are but the beginning of a new set of tools as we emerge from the nuclear winter of the dot com bust. The Law of Acceleration will not give us involved with technology and teaching much time to discover, understand, prototype, implement, scale and then support an every expanding portfolio of technological opportunites.

The key will be the need to focus and find the right change model that can be sustained by an evolving business model.


The podcasting bandwagon keeps on rolling. Princeton University recently announced that they would be vodcasting:

“Princeton University (NJ) has added “vodcasts” - shared videos that can be watched using Apple Inc.’s iTunes - to the podcasts, or downloadable sound files, it already offers on its Web-based University Channel. The service makes academic lectures and events available to the public via the Web. Apple recently introduced vodcasting technology in conjunction with the video- enabled iPod as a way of sharing video files over iTunes. “

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Just yesterday Standford University announced that it is putting up its podcasting content via Apple iTunes. Of course, this growing willingness of Higher Education institutions to provide and share their course content over the Internet began with MIT’s OpencourseWare initiative. Given these initiatives and the recent rise of blogging and VOIP products such as GIZMO and SKYP, one easily can see that we are at point where web-based instruction and course design are about to take another step forward. It almost feels like the mid-nineties when WebCT and Blackboard first made their appearance.

Another major announcement today was the Carnegie Mellon University’s speech translation program, that provides live translation of speech. Perhaps I’ll wait a little longer to learn that second language and save my money for a heads up display.