Change, opportunities and other percievable threats to the status quo.

I don't know who said it, but the following pretty much sums up how I feel: "just when I started to know the answers, they changed the questions." My institution has theSunGardHE portal, Luminis. We have WebCT CE, now Blackboard CE. We're in the process of implemeting Hannon Hill's Content Management System. We are exploring Identity Management directions. We have a fairly well integrated environment.

Now for the latest opportunity.

My colleague, Zach Tirrell, shared this link to Google's latest effort with me today. I have waxed on the impact of web based services before, but it's definitely a direction that is now plainly obvious. While the current state of web-applicatons such as Writely and Google Spreadsheets offers a compromise in functionality that is largely offset by collaborative opportunites and ease of access, there should be little doubt in anyone's mind that these services will only improve over time in both functionality and collaborative capabilities.

The question is, how will this affect the current slate of 3-5 year plans and iniatives at higher education institutions? Here's what the NY Times is saying the impact will have on businesses. This is clearly disruptive technology. Just see where Google's chief rival, now being lead by Ray Ozzie, is taking Microsoft:

Microsoft is taking a very pragmatic approach; a seamless, blended, client-server-service approach. We want to make sure that you can easily transition client and server-based applications to services, or vice-versa. Our services won't be disconnected from existing applications, but instead are going to be designed to complement and extend our Windows and Office platforms to the Internet.

Under the name Live, we'll provide a blend of desktop software, server-based software, and our own enterprise service offering, and our partners' offerings, enabling you to make the right tradeoffs that make the most sense for your business. One notable example of this client-server-service synergy can be found in our approach to information management and search. Our goal is to provide the people within your organization a simplified, unified way of getting at the information that they need, no matter where it resides.

So if Google and Microsoft are busy charting a course to web-based services world, what should we be doing in Higher Education to leveage and prepare our institutions for this environement? Clearly, one area that will heat up is Identity Mangement. We can't even begin to think of integration with web-based applications or social networking environments unless the IdM house is in order. Secondly, we need to excerise pressure on all our vendors to start to think along these lines if we are truely going to work together to create a seamless experience from a prospective student making general inquries about an institution, to providing life-long services to alumns via integrated environments.

How many of those life-long services remain exclusively the domain of Higher Education institutions and how much of it will be hosted at vendor sites remains to be seen. In the future, will Higher Ed need to provide their users with email? How can social networking environments, such as FaceBook, be integrated with the efforts of Alumni and Advancement offices or perhaps be extended in online e-portfolios. Speaking of electronic portfolios, while they are a current hot topic in Higher Education, they have not yet gained as much widespread adoption in the corporate sector as anticipated, but apparently there is enough belief in the concept by Microsoft that they have made an investment in Onfolio.

Increasingly, online education will include a mash up of web-based services that augment learning management systems will be significant. Well, as long as innovation is not inhibited by the legal efforts of such companies as Blackboard to protect their alledged intellectual property.

The bottom line is that students will live in an increasingly integrated world. That world is increasingly going to become user centric. Higher Education institutions who fail to integrate, adopt and adapt, risk becoming marginalized.

Higher Education, Web2.0, integration, portal, identity management

Higher Education Blogs and Liability

Higher Education and Blog Liability. Blogs are somewhat of a topic at my institution. Specifically, the liability issue. So I thought it might be a good idea to just start a post that points to relevant blog/liability issues for reference. Someone has probably already done this, but I haven't found it with a quick search. If you know of any, please comment or if you find interesting sites that fall into the following categories, let me know and I'll update this post. I'm also looking for University and Colleges that embraced blogs as part of the culture and strategic effort to facilitate their online sense of community. Thanks.

Education and Blogs

7 Things you should know about Blogs

Blog Policy and Liabilty Articles:

University of Minnesota Blog Policies - Good policies.
OSUWrite: A University Blog Solution Proof of Concept
Chronicle of Higher Education Article
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Burleson Consulting
Warwick University Terms and Conditions
Editor and Publishing (Good article)
Electronic Frontier Foundation Site
EFF Student Blogs
Unversity Business Article
Harvard Law school Terms of Use

Institutional Blogs, i.e. IHE that are making hey with blogs:
University of Minnesota - Here's a good example.
Harvard Law - Here's a marquee school's effort.
Seton Hall - Another good example
Penn State - Solutions Institute
Warwick University - UK
U. of Chicago - Faculty Blog
Standford Law
Dickinson College Blog
Regent College (Alumni Blog list)
Seton HillPrinceton University
Belmont University ( Seems to be an administrative blog)
Rider University ( Admissions Blog)
Georgia State University Library

Not really an IHE blog, but an interesting perspective nonetheless from Sam Jackson College Experience

Corporate Blogs: (Whose using blogs in the corporate world and why?)

CNN Article
Business 2.0

blogs, liability, university, colleges

How is a Laptop like a Willy Wonka "Golden Ticket" for ID theft?

One would have to be spending a lot of time under a rock to not be aware of the loss and recovery one of the Veteran Administration's laptops. The now former employee was probably a dedicated staffer who took his job seriously and unfortunately, also literally took his work home with him. That got me to thinking about the risks at my institution and I suspect we will be making some changes over the next few months. Here's another recent theft that occurred at HEd. institution. Our future direction will no doubt include many of the suggestions found here.

security, higher education, university, college

Blogging for Gold or Blog Bog.

At my institution we have been grappling with the role of blogging. To date, most of the informal discussion has centered on the relationship between personal blog content and the institution's image branding. Administrators, are not inclined to support technologies that introduce risk to the institution and have a vague return on investment, i.e. what exactly is in it for the institution? Some faculty, the early adopters, have recognized the academic value and have, without any explicit endorsement from the organization, found ways to make it available and integrate it with some of their courses. Of course, a blog site does not increase institutional risk in-and-of-itself any more than web pages. And web pages have been available to all the members of this community since the mid-nineties.

So what's the issue? There is simply a broader understanding and awareness of the communicative power of the web then in the past. Administrators are more aware and fully appreciate that the web is the way future and current students, and alum's engage with the institution. Concurrent with that awareness, most administrators recognize that the institutional message and content need to be controled, i.e., that there needs to be accountability. Higher Education is a competitive environment, consequently institutions need to take a more corporate, i.e., controled approach to organizational branding and marketing. At the same time there is a begrudging understanding among those familiar with the realities of public higher education that control and accountability, within moral and ethical limits, are somewhat antithetical to the values of an academic institution community. The exchange of ideas or debate around issues are what makes a academic community vibrant and precisely why a blog is such an attractive tool for the academic environment.

It has been suggested that blogging would be more readily acceptable if it could be contained within the community. This is a variation on the "walled-gardened" thinking of Web 1.0 and a manifestation of the desire to exercise control. Valid arguments can be made for this model. It would limit institution exposure, but more importantly may help protect students, argueably still in their formative years, from themselves as evidenced by the lack of judgment by many who use Facebook or mySpace poorly. On the other hand, a valid argument can be made that it's appropriate for college ages students to leave the nest with guidance from their academic institution. It will be interesting to see where the walled vs. open debate leads.

Assuming that at some point there is resolution on whether or not to have an official institutional (this site, is still a pilot for my institution) blog site for the institution, a debate, one that will be even more difficulty to navigate than the above, may develop surrounding compensation as professional academic boundries are blurred with the adoption of more Web 2.0 opportunities. In other words, will a professor be denied promotion or tenure, because they spend too much time blogging at their personal blog which generates ad revenue? Or the converse, will a professor be denied P and T because they don't "publish" enough on the institutional blog with no ad revenue? In the end blogging, regardless of ad revenue, will come to be seen as an extension of the research and publish requirement of academic environments, but only after some vigorous debate.

blog, blogging, branding, marketing, university, college

It's the little things that make a portal home. Part II

A while back I wrote about how popular our new polling channel has become within the portal. For those who worry about creating and aggregating content for a university/college portal, it is a challenge to create and foster the changes that must occur organizationally on the supply-side of the content chain to make the portal and other web services that exist at an institution to co-exist and compliment each other. Of course, one way this can happen effectively is through the use of a content management system. We are in the process of implementing a CMS from Hannon Hill, so in the near future there should be a few posts about that experience. Another way to address the challenge of creating and aggregating content is to leverage exisiting services and content. LaSalle University has created a prospective student portal built on SunGardHE's Luminis product. By doing so, they are allowing content generated in the normal operations of the organization to be presented to prospects and thereby giving prospects a better sense of the institution. As stated in a recent Campus Technology article:

For La Salle, there has been an unexpected payoff from integrating the recruiting portal with portal features for other groups like students, faculty, and alumni. As activity on the campus portal has grown, it has nourished the recruiting portal. The school’s on-campus announcement forums, for example, have provided content about lectures, academic events, sports, and volunteer activities that all can be fed to prospective students who share those particular interests. “At first we had to sit down and generate the content for the prospective student portal,‿ says James Sell, director of Portal Communications at La Salle. “Now it’s being generated for us.‿

Personally, I like two-fers.

Content Management System, portal, university, college

Migratory Faculty, Part II

Several months ago I posted about Migratory Faculty, a the term I have given to the collection of adjunct faculty who serve several institutions in a geographical area (or virtual) using course materials they maintain at non-edu sites, personal blogs for instance, rather than using an institutional LMS. This observation is just part of what could argueable be called Higher Ed. 2.0. Here's another example of a Higher Ed. 2.0 professor "mashing" up his resource to do some out-of-the -box course design. Hmmm, I wonder how many committees he went through for aproval?

education, higher, university

Services for Life, not JUST Email for Life

I and my colleague, PSU Alumni Director Joe Long, had an opportunity to listen to a University Business WebSeminar yesterday on the topic "Email for Life: The benefits , costs, and solutions for College and Universities" that was sponsored by Mirapoint, an email solutions vendor. The presentation was moderated by Tim Goral, Editor of University Business Magazine, panelists included Mike Briggs, Director of IT at George Washington U. Law School and Wayne Cozart, Dir. of Alumni Activities, Alumni Association, U of Virginia. I believe there were approximately 260 schools participating in the webinar. The panelists presented their current solutions, followed by a Q and A session. The Q and A was good and gave one a sense of where many of the participants are in their thinking about life-time email.

While this a "hot" topic, in part, because of the recent interest by Microsoft and Google in wanting to host Higher Education institution's email accounts for "free," it is too narrow of a topic. We have to consider all online services - our digital profile if you will. Additionally, as Higher Education insitutions chart the unfamiliar business models of Web2.0 waters, we are going to have to consider the relationship between institution supported services and the rapidly evolving suite of external online services as we strive to increase or even maintain alumni engagement. Of course, it's not just Alumni, but the entire customer life-cycle services and the engagement that comes with an online "birth-to-bequest" strategy.

Aside: I believe my colleague Joe was the first coin the phrase, "birth-to-bequest." I've heard "womb-to-tomb" and "cradle-to-grave," but I like Joe's. It has a better HEd. ring to it. Okay, enough digression.

As HEd. institutions engage in their strategic and long range planning processes, they will need to consider not only the impact that outsourcing services such as email has on IT budgets, but what the total impact of outsourced/ASP hosted services such as ePortfolios, learning management, websites, portals, prospective portals, library resources, etc. and various combinations thereof will or could possibly do to their online branding efforts. Additionally, future developments, specifically Federated Identity Management (IdM) potentially blurs even further the boundries of the institutional experience/environment as we begin to explore expanded trusted relationships with vendors, other insititutions, and the governement. In other words, what does it mean for HEd. branding and engagement, when a users creates an initial prospective student account at a third party portal, becomes accepted at the insitution, receives his or her Google/institution email (with no adversting), gains access to the institutional services, perhaps through an institutional portal with single-sign-on, the portal then provides access to third party hosted services such as: eportfolio, course management, and library resources, then, via the same Google/institutional email account, gain access to Google portal services? In short, where does the institution end and Google begin? Does it even matter?

While this is an extreme example of an potential future HEd. institutional online environment, it highlights how difficult it will be to maintain control over branding and the quality of service, let alone the integration challenges. We have a favorite saying around our shop "The good news is we're integrated, the bad news is we're integrated."

At PSU, the username and email account are interwined. All our new users have unique usernames that come with life-time email accounts. We created life-time email accounts for ALL our Alumns as well. The username not only provides email, but access to the Plymouth portal, myPlymouth, which is based on Luminis from SunGardHE. We have portal roles for students, staff, faculty and alums. We'll shortly have a prospective portal as well. In order for us to even consider outsourcing to a vendor for email services we will have to take a long hard look at the impact to the provisioning process and business processes that occur at our institution. Arguably, even more important, is the impact to long term engagement as these vendors are not only interested in the ad revenue that will occur from eyeballs using their email services, but those same accounts will most likely give them access to the vendors online portals or online web2.0 based applications. As a matter of fact, that is precisely where I believe Microsoft and Google are going. They not only want us using their web-based email client, but they want us using their online (Web 2.0) word processor, spreadsheet, social networking service, and so on. Need more tea leaves? Take a look at Groove, the collaboration software that was developed by Ray Ozzie of Lotus Notes now employeed by Microsoft and latest author of one of those notorious "internal" memos that sets the company on a new course. Groove, the product, is now being marketed to higher education. Put products like Groove and the potential of all online web-based services and you begin to get a sense of the scope and impact these technologies will have in defining the higher educational experience. Is that good or bad? It's neither. Like all tools, it is how you use them. One thing is certain, higher education institutions can't do it all. Adrian Sannier, from ASU, has pointed out that Higher Ed. institutions are on a linear development curve while industry is moving along on an exponential growth path. Institutions have some decisions to make. We're going to have to pick and choose who we partner with, examine our mission, values, objectives, and strateges, and carefully consider the implications of our decisons.

It's not just about outsourcing life-long email. It's about defining life-long relationships. Interesting times.

, email, Higher Education University College Information Technology, lifetime, Web 2.0