Thursday, July 28, 2011

Maybe I'm not the heretic I feared I was

Clayton Christensen and Henry Eyring posted a discussion in today's Chronicle that the traditional university can and should be changed from the inside out. I like the concise identification of the three roles of the traditional university, discovery of knowledge, preserving cultural memories, and mentoring the next generation.

Yet, they see today's traditional university in a perilous position. I feel, maybe too often, that my thoughts and viewpoints are heretical. I'm too far off the edge, perhaps. But Christensen and Eyring state "One thing we've got to come to grips with is the power of online technology and the opportunity to enhance the way we teach." It's nice to hear someone else saying this kind of stuff. The bottom line for so many institutions will be self evaluation and transformation. Prune away that which is necessary for survival. Recognize the value of teaching to the university's mission. Adapt or perish.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Curious how certain comments can contaminate concepts

In a commentary on the Chronicle site this week (here) Benjamin Ginsberg assails the practice of writing strategic plans as a self-serving exercise in executive/administrative nonsense. This is a big topic; He makes some good points. My issue for the moment, however, is that I am concerned that the argument implicitly undermines anything done for it's strategic value. Quick point of distinction: tactics are actions used for specific, timely purposes. Strategies are big picture conceptualizations of goal fulfillment. Ginsberg notes an exceptional bit of leadership at the University of Illinois in its 2007 strategic plan. Ginsberg's overall slant however is to herald the failure of American universities to maintain intellectual rigor by increasing the number and power of administrators and decreasing faculty influence.

ION's core value to its many widespread members and friends is as a strategic partner in faculty development. This value is expressed as the element of higher learning accreditation focused on faculty training and support. Making smart decisions toward the long term goals of improving the skills and abilities of the universities faculty members will always be a good thing. It will never be a transient whim that comes and goes with presidents or deans.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Everyone is all atwitter?

Between Netflix, Google+, Facebook, and the heat, there sure is a lot to talk about this week.

I have spent a surprising amount of mental energy pondering the new Google+ "circles" strategy and how it relates to something many of us have become at least vaguely familiar with, Facebook friends. Then, of course, there are the real life phenomena of friends, associates, acquaintances, colleagues, coworkers, neighbors, classmates, family (immediate, distant, or otherwise), and more. Social posturing, political correctness, being nice....we've got names for those things too, right?

I wonder if part the reason Google+ is taking off like this is that it explicitly asks us to categorize the nature of our associations with others. {insert "scientific explanation of human relationships" about here}

Then there are the MOOCs out there. Massive Open Online Course. I'm in #edumooc right now and finding it really hard to focus on it and stay with it. There are so many directions to go, so many options to pursue. I'm sure it's really fun and exciting for some.

Till next time,