In an Educause Research Bulletin entitled “Crowdsourcing the IT Help Desk: A Cloud Approach to Mass Intelligence”, the four authors state that Web 2.0 technologies “enable us to easily and quickly tap into and harvest the collective intelligence of much of the world’s population, irrespective of time or location. As such, they collectively represent the potential to be a significantly disruptive event on the horizon of modern society.” That article also reminded me that in 2006, Time magazine named “You” the Person of the Year. The magazine cover included the phrase: “Yes, you. You control the Information Age. Welcome to your world.”
Given the high expectations on all of us by Time magazine and Educause, we could be surprised that Carleton still needs a central IT organization. There are likely some of you who would be eager to consider that possibility. In fact, you and I would agree on many points, starting with an endorsement that ITS should facilitate more often than regulate, and that we can’t possibly be service-providers for all of the technology needs on campus. Others of you might feel well-supported by having experts to consult to make sense of technology that is constantly changing. To use technology most successfully, we do need to leverage our mass intelligence. To optimize our collective wisdom, we each need to expand our individual skills as well as our facility at melding that expertise.
During Fall Term, I hope to engage conversations about both the clearly possible, and the seemingly impossible, futures for technology throughout the fabric of Carleton. The ITS strategic planning process has provided focus for the needs that have been identified over the past year. As we build on that foundation (and dream a little bigger), Carleton will benefit from the experience and wisdom of Janet Russell, who will be joining us in August as the new Director of Academic Technology. Janet is currently the Director of Science Programs & Technology Enhanced Learning and an adjunct faculty member at Georgetown. She has a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Ohio State and has worked in instructional technology at both Wooster and Earlham. Janet will be a great addition to the Carleton community!
A friend of mine describes the work of information technologists as flying a plane full of passengers at the same time that we are building it. And there is truth to that. We are concurrently building future possibilities while also maintaining the best possible infrastructure. The rest of this issue will focus on ways we’re managing these twin requirements this summer.
We’re taking steps to ensure that:
- our wireless infrastructure is robust and continuing to increase in capacity;
- our faculty are able to innovate in the classroom (rolling out a pilot of software to facilitate easy recording of classroom lectures/discussions);
- our core infrastructure stays secure from threats and compatible with technology advances (upgrades to Moodle, email and classroom software).
Whether you are staying on campus or leaving for the summer, I hope you have a rejuvenating and technology-rich summer!
Read Janet's previous columns: