We’ve ruminated a fair amount about the profound implications changes in information technology have for learning and higher education. This week, Inside Higher Education’s Joshua Kim looks at how changes in higher education are affecting campus information technology services.
What would be the advantages of re-branding our IT Departments as Collaboration Departments?
Aligning to How Academic Work Now Done: It is useful to ask ourselves if the design of our IT Departments still matches how academic (and knowledge) work has changed. . . . How many folks make an end-run around the IT Department to use consumer cloud services such as e-mail, documents, storage, and applications? A Collaboration Department could be agnostic about platforms, as resources could be diverted from providing local enterprise services to that of connecting consumer cloud based platforms.
Because We Only Invest in What We Measure: What do we measure now in IT? Uptime? Service responses? Installed systems? Stored data? New Projects? All of these elements are important, but they are also all inputs. A Collaboration Department would measure the degree of collaboration within campus and across institutions. How many connections are facilitated? How deep are those connections? To what degree do students, faculty, staff, prospective students and alumni feel that they have the tools, platform and support to find the people and data that they need, and collaborate around these elements? . . .
Incremental Improvements and Small, Fast Failures: A Collaboration Department would be built around the goal of facilitating and supporting communication, not providing, servicing, or supporting platforms. The Collaboration Department may find that an enterprise platform is necessary, but the bias will be for lightweight and agile tools. Consuming a service is almost always preferable to providing that same service. We should aim for constant incremental improvements in our collaborative tools. Small improvements add up. And if we make a small change that makes things worse we have not lost very much, as we will learn quickly and make corrections as we go.
This doesn’t affect only academia. Many larger organizations, both public and private are wrestling with this same issue. You can read the full post here.