Lessons Learned

ImageReflecting on the lessons learned throughout this course, there are several common themes that are apparent:

First, is the fact that we are all connected – and that the technology that connects us allows us to communicate, collaborate and compete at a global level that was previously unimaginable (Friedman, 2007);

Second, as our technology – and our understanding and use of it – has expanded, knowledge management has evolved from a basic database repository to a structure that allows us to easily access and leverage collective knowledge (Dixon, 2009);

Third, This technology is revolutionizing the way we work and our workplaces are being transformed into a wirearchy as “rapid flows of information erode the pillars of rigid traditional hierarchies” (Husband, 2013);

Finally, this wirearchy allows connected individuals to accomplish what once only large organizations could (Jarche, 2013).  Networked employees can now work independently and effectively from almost anywhere thanks to a wide array of technological assets they can access (Madden, 2008).

While these last several weeks have been filled with valuable learning moments, it is also quite clear that my education in technology will not end with the conclusion of this course.  Given the speed at which technology advances and the incredible impact it has on our lives, our work and our world, this will be an ongoing learning process for me. 

Equally important is the recognition that we learn not simply by being connected – but by being engaged.  As this course has shown, it is not simply the sharing of information but the rich and engaging conversations among classmates that often produce the most valuable learning moments.  In today’s wirearchy, therefore, it is important to be connected to active, engaged, like-minded lifelong learners who share a commitment to expanding knowledge.

Additionally, now more than ever we recognize that the rapid advancement of technology in the flattened and connected world in which we live provides opportunities for both unparalleled collaboration and competition (Friedman, 2007).  To limit and avoid unnecessary competition, therefore, my outreach efforts to potential global partners will most certainly increase in the years to come.

Finally, my comfort level and flexibility with new technology must increase.  As Carly Fiorina stated, “the last twenty-five years in technology have been the warm-up act. Now we are going into the main event – an era in which technology will literally transform every aspect of business, every aspect of life and every aspect of society” (Friedman, 2007, p. 231).  Husband (2013) reinforced this sentiment stating that while the last thirty years have been about “the building of the technical infrastructure that provides an interconnected world,” the next fifty years will be focused on our ability to adapt to the interconnected world and workplace. 

In other words, the only thing we know for certain about our current technology – is that it will change.  As leaders, we must not only adapt to such change – but embrace it – and provide the necessary support for technology so that it can not only grow and expand our economies but improve our world in the process.

References:

Friedman, T.L. (2007). The World Is Flat: A brief history of the twenty-first century
New York: Picador/Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Dixon, N. (2009, May 2). Three Eras of Knowledge Management. Retrieved from NancyDixon.com:http://www.nancydixonblog.com/2009/05/where-knowledge-management-has-been-and-where-it-is-going-part-one.html

Jarche, H. (2013, November 5). Networks are the new companies. Retrieved November 21, 2013, from http://www.jarche.com/2013/11/networks-are-the-new-companies

Madden, M., Jones, S. (28 September 2008). Networked Workers. Pew Internet & American Life Project. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2008/Networked-Workers.aspx

 

 

 

 

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Life Long Learners

Lifelonglearner

Working in the field of higher education, we may naturally assume our primary duties are to instruct, educate and inform – to provide our students with the valuable skillsets they require – and to prepare them for future opportunities.  But, increasingly, our ability to prepare our students depends on the expansion of our own knowledge – and our ability to be both educators and life long learners.

The dual impact of globalization and advanced technology is changing our world – and the nature of higher education with it.  Our colleges and universities are now home to flipped classrooms, mobile apps and MOOCs – and more technology changes are on the horizon (NMC Report, 2013).

As leaders we have to embrace these changes, examine how best to utilize them and share them in our classroom environments with our students.  At our university, we have a university wide initiative that provides faculty and staff with free hands-on training of new technology in education.  We are encouraged to explore the use of podcasting, echo 360, online and a host of other applications and determine what technology is appropriate for our students and for our particular programs.

Internally at our school, we meet once a week with our chief technology officer to discuss issues with existing technology, discuss new technology products and services that are available and to brainstorm ideas for program and classroom innovation.  As the result of such meetings, we recently launched a hybrid degree and non-credit program that features online technology and mobile applications.

We also must take advantage of external learning opportunities for faculty and staff.  Next month, for instance, we will travel to the UPCEA and ACE conference in California to meet with colleagues to discuss online and new technology innovations in education (Summit, 2013).  We also attend regional events and training sessions on technology and tap the resources of our colleagues at partner institutions. One such organization is JesuitNET, which provides a variety of programs and conferences which highlight how Catholic and Jesuit institutions can better integrate technology into the educational experience (JesuitNET, 2013).

As we have learned, ever-changing technology in the flat-world environment in which we exist will keep educators very busy.  To keep pace with such change, we must be both teacher and student – life long learners.  Our days may be longer – but they will hopefully be far more interesting and engaging.

Reference:

The NMC Horizon Report: 2013 Higher Education Edition. (2013). Stanford, CA.  Retrieved from http://www.nmc.org/pdf/2013-horizon-report-HE.pdf.

The Summit for Online Leadership & Strategy. (2013).  Washington, DC.  Retrieved from http://conferences.upcea.edu/SOLS/.

The Jesuit Distance Education Network – JesuitNET. (2013).  Washington, DC.  Retrieved from http://www.ajcunet.edu/jesuitnet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

High-Tech Cheating

High-Tech-CheatingIt should go without saying that as technology has advanced, so has the use of such technology for less than noble purposes. In education, cheating by students now routinely involves the use of some type of technology. As Waters (2013) wrote, “More students than ever are using information technology in ways that break the rules of academic integrity.” The practice is known as “high-tech cheating” and it has been described “variously as a trend, an epidemic, and a plague” (Waters, 2013).

As Rochman (2012) reported, “more than 1 in 10 kids between the ages of 6 to 10 already have their very own cell” and the average age at which most children have personal access to such technology is age 12 (Rochman, 2012). In addition to the proliferation of technology, there is growing access to and use of social media tools by students. Such an environment is causing increasing confusion among some students as to the appropriate use of technology in their school assignments and academic pursuits (Rochman, 2012).

For example, as Lang (2012) noted, the traditional definitions of plagiarism are “confusing to students who must abandon their normal habits of Facebook sharing or re-Tweeting in order to conform to the complex rules of scholarly citation.” Furthermore, a growing number of students don’t even recognize they’re cheating because they so frequently use social media and other tools and resources to collaborate with fellow students (Waters, 2013).

As Waters (2013) wrote, “They swarm over shared Google Docs, interact on assignment-related Facebook pages, and coordinate team efforts via text message. For digital natives, some have argued, sharing information is so natural and so often encouraged that lines that were once so bright and clear are blurring.”

Nowhere is the issue of high-tech cheating more of a concern than in online education. Operating outside the traditional confines of a classroom, online education raises specific concerns regarding verification of student work and testing. At MIT, they are utilizing electronic fingerprinting, employing facial recognition technology and developing programs to specifically identify and verify student’s writing styles (Young, 2012).

As Young (2012) reported, some colleges and universities are “using products such as the Securexam Remote Proctor, which both scans fingerprints and captures a 360-degree view around students, and Kryterion’s Webassessor, which lets human proctors watch students remotely on Web cameras and listen to their keystrokes.”

Despite such concern over high-tech cheating, there was actually very little attention given to this issue during the drafting of the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008. As Kolowich (2013) reported, “Federal official specifically avoided detailing proctoring requirements for online education and instead chose a minimum standard for compliance—a secure login and password—that has left online programs largely to their own devices.”

Some educators, however, are not concerned with this lack of oversight by regulators and instead suggest that the best way to curb high-tech cheating is to improve the overall quality of coursework and curriculum. As Lang (2013) stated, “Poorly designed assignments, like poorly designed classes, will engender dishonest work in any environment, from traditional to online.” As such, many educators today advocate efforts that encourage active engagement of students in the classroom, promote more creative teaching approaches and call for increased efforts to inspire students to focus on mastery of subject matter not simply academic performance (Lang, 2013).

While efforts will undoubtedly continue to address high-tech cheating, the reality is that ever-changing technology and the nature of students in general may make eliminating such cheating impossible. As Lang (2013) proclaimed, “We’ll always have some small degree of cheating; that’s just human.”

References:

Waters, J. (September 9, 2013). From Texting to Plagiarism, How to Stop High-Tech Cheating. The Journal. Retrieved from http://thejournal.com/articles/2013/09/02/from-texting-to-plagiarism-how-to-stop-high-tech-cheating.aspx

Rochman, B. (August 20, 2012). What’s the Right Age to Give Your Kid a Cell Phone? TIME Magazine. Retrieved from http://healthland.time.com/2012/08/20/whats-the-right-age-to-give-your-kid-a-cell-phone/

Lang, J. (2012). Why the hottest trend in online education already has a cheating problem. The Daily Dot. Retrieved from http://www.dailydot.com/opinion/lang-MOOC-cheating-online-education

Young, J. (June 3, 2012). Online Classes See Cheating Go High-Tech. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/article/Cheating-Goes-High-Tech/132093

Kolowich, S. (April 15, 2013). Behind the Webcam’s Watchful Eye, Online Proctoring Takes Hold. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/article/Behind-the-Webcams-Watchful/138505/

The NEXUS

Increasingly we find that we are co-existing in a Nexus – connected to one another by technologies that didn’t even exist just a few decades ago. Internet, satellite, cellular and wireless service continue to grow and expand globally. As a result, our computers, phones, PDAs and other devices can connect us to anyone, at anytime – almost anywhere in the world.

As Jarche (2013) wrote, “Connected individuals can now do what once only large organizations could.” The impact of this growing reality has been most significant in the workplace where networked employees can work independently and effectively thanks to a wide array of technological assets they can access (Madden, 2008).

The Internet and the myriad of information, management and communication tools it helped launch have vastly improved the workplace for networked employees. These “Wired and Ready Workers” (Madden, 2008) now have more flexibility in the hours they work, the creative ideas they can share and the workplace systems, files and data they can access. According to Madden (2008), 80 percent of networked employees declare that these technologies “have improved their ability to do their job.”

Educational institutions most certainly rely on networked employees. Georgetown is no exception. In fact, a major initiative that our school recently launched could not have succeeded without the active participation of our networked employees.

When the federal government shutdown occurred, the impact on the Washington D.C.-area was significant. Hotels, restaurants and businesses that would regularly be frequented by government employees and contractors experienced an immediate decline in activity. Moreover, thousands of federal employees were sent home where they could do little more than wait and see when and if Congress took action to re-open the government and thus allow them to return to work.

Our Dean decided that we should take this unique opportunity to engage the federal workforce and provide an opportunity for furloughed employees to make better use of their unscheduled leave. He wanted to create and offer free short-term courses for furloughed federal employees. This was unchartered territory for our school and our employees. We had little experience with creating such a program and we had no idea when the shutdown would end. One thing was certain, we had to move quickly to develop and launch this initiative if it was to succeed.

Working into the evening and over the weekend, our dedicated networked employees used every available technology to make this program a reality. Working from home on laptops enabled with VPN access, networked employees were able to create our website URL, develop registration forms and website contacts, launch course links, contract and hire faculty and assign classrooms.

A program that would have previously taken weeks or months to develop within our university took only days thanks to our networked employees and work environment. Initially our goal was to offer courses that served 100 furloughed federal employees. In the end, more than 700 federal employees took advantage of our program – and many have returned to take additional discounted coursework since the closure (Georgetown University, 2013).

While the positive impact of networked employees is evident in this example, concerns about such networks remain. Many employees surveyed indicate that the increased connectivity and flexibility that technology allows make it more difficult for them to disconnect at home. The increased stress and demands they cite make it more challenging to manage their lives (Madden, 2008).

Additionally, as with any new technology or platform, such networked environments can be used for less noble pursuits. As Friedman (2007) noted, “The internet also grants terrorists a cheap and efficient means of networking. Many terrorist groups, among them Hamas and al-Qaeda, have undergone a transformation from strictly hierarchical organizations with designated leaders to affiliations of semi-independent cells that have no single commanding hierarchy” (p. 601).

Technology and the networked environment it fuels can indeed be used to both create and destroy. As Friedman (2007) noted, “We are all stewards of this planet, and the test for our generation is whether we will pass on this planet in as good or better shape than we found it. The flattening process is going to challenge that responsibility” (p. 576).

References:

Friedman, T. L. (2007). The World is Flat: A brief history of the twenty-first century. New York: Picador/Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Jarche, H. (2013, November 5). Networks are the new companies. Retrieved November 21, 2013, fromhttp://www.jarche.com/2013/11/networks-are-the-new-companies/.

Georgetown University Furloughed Employee Program. (2013). Retrieved from http://scs.georgetown.edu/departments/5/center-for-continuing-and-professional-education/article.cfm?eid=831

Madden, M., Jones, S. (28 September 2008). Networked Workers. Pew Internet & American Life Project. Retrieved fromhttp://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2008/Networked-Workers.aspx

Georgetown offers free classes for furloughed employees (October 13, 2013). WJLA-ABC 7 News. Washington, D.C. Retrieved from http://www.wjla.com/articles/2013/10/georgetown-offers-free-classes-for-furloughed-employees-95315.html

Busy Bees

ImageJust when you thought you simply could not be any busier at work, Tom Austin, Vice President and Gartner fellow, proclaims that our jobs will soon “become less routine, characterized by increased volatility, hyperconnectedness and swarming” (2010).  Swarming? Really?

According to Austin (2010), by 2015 “people will swarm more often and work solo less.  They’ll work with others with whom they have few links, and teams will include people outside the control of the organization.”

Given the impact of technology and globalization on our work, perhaps it isn’t difficult to imagine a world in which we’re all ‘swarming.”   Competition is increasingly at a global level and the expanding availability of technology has truly flattened our world (Friedman, 2007).  The growing worldwide use of social media has had a particularly significant impact.  As Shirky (2008) wrote, “A million times a day someone tries some new social tool” (p. 295).

At my workplace, the use of social media tools most certainly continues to grow and expand.  We have Facebook and Twitter accounts for our school, for most of the academic programs within our school and for many of our social clubs and student organizations, as well.  We have an internal Wiki for our faculty and staff, LinkedIn pages for our alumni and websites in Chinese and Russian to market our programs to an expanding global pool of potential students.

Inside our school, technology abounds.  We have classrooms equipped with Echo360 technology, multiple teleconference rooms and a soon-to-be completed digital broadcast studio.  We also are home to the smallest physical library within our university.  The fact is that you don’t need extra shelf space for digital textbooks and resources.

My typical work assignments also increasingly reflect a pattern of ‘swarming” as both the use of technology and the impact of globalization expand. Just this week, for example, I participated in conference calls with colleagues in Beijing, email exchanges with an academic program sponsor in Tokyo and a streaming guest lecture that included women from Afghanistan participating via Skype.  I also traveled to and from New York on Amtrak where almost every single passenger was either online, watching a movie on their mobile device, listening to music or reading on their kindle or tablet.

Technology and our ability to connect, communicate and collaborate on a global scale is revolutionizing the way we work.  As Husband (2013) writes, “this impact is growing into massive change in the ways we do things and behave.”  As a result, our workplaces are being transformed into a wirearchy as “rapid flows of information erode the pillars of rigid traditional hierarchies” (Husband, 2013).

Husband (2013) predicts that while the last thirty years have been about “the building of the technical infrastructure that provides an interconnected world,” the next fifty years will be focused on our ability to adapt to the “interconnected world and workplace” that will most certainly keep us all ‘swarming’ (Husband, 2013).

References:

Friedman, T. L. (2007). The World is Flat 3.0: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century. New York: Picador / Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Goasduff, L. (2010, August 4th). Gartner Says the World of Work Will Witness 10 Changes During the Next 10 Years. Retrieved from Gartner: http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/1416513

Shirky, C. (2008).  Here Comes Everybody – The Power of Organizing Without Organizations. New York: Penguin Press.

Connect – not Collect

ConnectIn his book, The Wealth of Knowledge, Stewart (2007) wrote that “Connection, not collection” was the essence of knowledge management (p. 175). As our technology – and our understanding and use of it – has expanded, knowledge management has evolved from a basic database repository to a structure that allows us to easily access and leverage collective knowledge (Dixon, 2009). Thus, we now connect – not simply collect (Stewart, 2007).

The launch of the Internet – and all of the technology that has developed as a result – has forever changed our world. In fact, the mere existence of such technology has significantly impacted global events. Our world has been flattened – and these new forms of technology allow for collaboration at a level that was previously unimaginable (Friedman, 2007).

As Friedman (2007) describes, “along came the triple convergence. The Berlin Wall came down, the Berlin mall opened up, and suddenly some three billion people who had been behind walls walked onto the flattened global piazza” (p. 211). In China, Russia and India, economies and political systems opened up at the exact time in which unprecedented collaboration was made possible through new technology and work tools (Friedman, 2007).

While the ability to communicate and collaborate created new opportunities, it also revealed possible ramifications. As Harvard University economist Richard B. Freeman stated, “You don’t bring three billion people into the world economy overnight without huge consequences, especially from three societies with rich educational heritages” (Friedman, 2007, p. 212).

As such, we must recognize that the flattened, open, connected world in which we now live allows for not only historical collaboration but also unparalleled competition. As Friedman (2007) warned, “this is no slow-motion triple convergence. It’s happening fast…and there is nothing that guarantees it will be Americans or Western Europeans permanently leading the way” (p. 213).

As Friedman (2007) stated, the “triple convergence has now reached critical mass, and it involves so many more people and places” (p. 231). Accordingly, such rapid growth of technology and evolution of knowledge management require our leaders to not only embrace and engage these web-based tools but, equally important, to prepare for what’s next.

Carly Fiorina, the former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Hewlett-Packard, may have described the extent of this challenge best, declaring that “the last twenty-five years in technology have been the warm-up act. Now we are going into the main event – an era in which technology will literally transform every aspect of business, every aspect of life and every aspect of society” (Friedman, 2007, p. 231).

References:

Steward, T. (2007). The Wealth of Knowledge –Intellectual Capital and the Twenty-First –Century Organization. New York: Random House LLC.

Friedman, T.L. (2007). The World Is Flat: A brief history of the twenty-first century
New York: Picador/Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Dixon, N. (2009, May 2). Three Eras of Knowledge Management. Retrieved from NancyDixon.com:http://www.nancydixonblog.com/2009/05/where-knowledge-management-has-been-and-where-it-is-going-part-one.html

The Four-Letter Word Higher-Ed Struggles to Understand

ImageWhile there has certainly been rapid growth in education technology the last several years, few new developments have had such an immediate and global impact as the MOOC. When these free Massive Open Online Courses launched in 2012, they were called “the single biggest change in education since the printing press” (Rosen, 2012).  MOOCs were greeted with nearly unanimous praise by both the education press and the public and, what some viewed as simply a new technology product roll-out, quickly evolved into a “revolution that has higher education gasping,” (Pappano, 2012).

As background, the first MOOC known to have been offered in the United States was a course entitled “Online Learning Today and Tomorrow,” at The University of Illinois Springfield in 2011.  The MOOC course attracted 2,500 students – a very high enrollment for such a new program at the time (Sandeen, 2013). Just two years later, however, millions are participating in MOOC courses all over the world.

The three largest MOOC platforms – Coursera, Udacity and edX – all launched in the summer of 2012.  Coursera and Udacity were created by two Stanford University professors and edX was launched by a MIT professor in partnership with Harvard (Sandeen, 2013).  Among these three major MOOC platforms, Coursera is the largest with over 4 million enrolled students (Anders, 2013).   Coursera employs a decentralized model and partners with large established universities in the United States and around the world who are responsible for providing content, curriculum and faculty for a wide variety of course offerings (Sandeen, 2013).

While MOOC courses tend to focus on fairly traditional academic content including course offerings in history, math and science, the technology they employ is anything but conventional.  I am actually currently enrolled in a MOOC course on the history of China and have been very impressed with the technology utilized online. The course utilizes engaging video, music, interactive maps and a variety of other applications to both educate and entertain MOOC students. 

MOOC courses work hard to maintain student interest.  Since these offerings are free, content developers recognize that students don’t always have a vested interest in completing a course.  In fact, while millions of students are enrolling in MOOC courses, a large number never actually complete a full course as the vast majority of MOOC participants do not enroll with the intention of applying their learning experience toward the completion of an academic  degree.   

Currently most academic institutions that sponsor MOOCs do not grant academic credit for such coursework. But that may be changing, which has some leaders in higher education quite concerned.  Last May, the American Council on Education was awarded a grant in the amount of $895,484 from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to “support building the bridge between informal MOOC learning and college credit by testing the viability of MOOCs as a direct-to-student use case” (“Gates Foundation,” 2012).  The Council agreed to apply its respected course review and credit recommendation service to the MOOC environment and completed a pilot review of five courses on the Coursera platform.  Following the review, all five courses were recommended for some form of academic credit” (Sandeen, 2013).

In addition to the efforts by the Council, many other institutions are currently examining the issue of credits and measurement. According to Masterson (2013), San Jose State University is partnering with MOOC providers to offer for-credit MOOCs to their students. Empire State College is working with foundations to establish and test MOOC assessments. And a bill in California could create a list of approved MOOCs for basic college courses that public colleges might be required to accept for credit.

Such efforts are receiving increased attention now as government leaders and citizens voice concern about the escalating cost of a quality college education.  As Coursera states directly on their website “Many students face enormous financial obstacles in pursuit of their degrees. We want to help more students enter college with credit already accrued and exit college on time, on budget and with a degree in hand” (Coursera, 2013). 

While it is difficult to argue with such a worthy mission, there are many in higher education that say further study of MOOCs and their long term impact is warranted (Rivard, 2013).  Faculty groups are worried that MOOCs will threaten their intellectual property rights and, potentially, their livelihood.  They also fear that the loss of traditional face-to-face education will negatively impact student learning.  Many administrators worry about the financial impact of granting credit to courses taken for free – and some partner institutions have threatened to walk away from existing MOOC agreements “because of worries that corporations – and not universities – will end up controlling the future of higher education” (Rivard, 2013).

This debate is far from over, and, as the largest MOOC provider, Coursera, will help lead the ongoing conversation on the future role of MOOCs in higher education.  They are most certainly well prepared to do so.  Just as their enrollment surpassed 4 million students earlier this year, Coursera announced that they had raised $43 million in new venture capital, which tripled the amount of cash available for growth.  They are  currently exploring a potential public stock offering, as well (Anders, 2013).

 

References:

Rosen, R. (2012). The Single Biggest Change In Education Since The Printing Press.  The Atlantic.  Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/05/the-single-biggest-change-in-education-since-the-printing-press/256655/

Pappano, L. (2012, November 2). The Year of the MOOC. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/04/education/edlife/massive-open-online-courses-are-multiplying-at-a-rapid-pace.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Sandeen, C. (2013). Assessment’s Place in the New MOOC World. Research & Practice In Assessment. Retrieved from http://www.rpajournal.com/dev/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/SF1.pdf

Anders, G. (2013). Coursera Hits 4 Million Students and Triples Its Funding. Forbes.  Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/georgeanders/2013/07/10/coursera-hits-4-million-students-and-triples-its-funding/

Gates Foundation Grant Release. (2012, November). Retrieved from http://www.gatesfoundation.org/How-We-Work/Quick-Links/Grants-Database/Grants/2012/11/OPP1066452

Masterson, K. (2013, May 1).  Giving MOOCs Some Credit. The Presidency – The American Council On Education Magazine For Higher Education Leaders. Retrieved from http://www.acenet.edu/the-presidency/columns-and-features/Pages/Giving-MOOCs-Some-Credit.aspx

Coursera Blog Post (February 7, 2013). Retrieved from http://blog.coursera.org/post/42486198362/five-courses-receive-college-credit-recommendations

Rivard, R. (2013). Beyond the MOOC Hype. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/07/09/higher-ed-leaders-urge-slow-down-mooc-train#ixzz2jXo539q0