Innovation Thrives!

Katherine GraysonNot driving technology innovation on your campus? Watch out: Your competition is.

I thought judging last year’s Campus Technology Innovators program was interesting, but that was when we had over a hundred fascinating nominations from across the country. This year we received almost 500 entries, and I for one found it near-impossible to narrow the field to a deserving handful. The entries have made it clear that our world of higher education technology is teeming with technologists and techsavvy faculty who are driving technology innovation in every way possible, and partnering with vendors across countless technology sectors, to do so.

One of the trends we noted was that of moving traditional and online students through 3D and “immersive” learning environments, to place them inside the learning experience rather than relegate them to onlooker mode. Another movement: that of using gaming and simulation to engage conventional and online students alike.

Then there were the entrants who recounted the kind of campuswide systems and data integration we once had only dreamed of, with open standards and open source applications enabling ever more agnostic access.

Electronic portfolios were another hot topic, facilitating better monitoring and assessment of student progress, even following students way past graduation, into career building and adult education.

The expanded use of devices in higher ed—tablets, PDAs, iPods, cell phones, interactive boards and plasma/ LCD displays—continues to amaze us, as d'es the astounding uses for them so often driven by the educators and students themselves.

And technologists are taking a new view of campus websites, focusing on enabling lay individuals to easily create and maintain personal academic sites from scratch, thus bringing a “MySpace” mindset to the campus.

When it comes to performance monitoring, assessment, and counseling, schools are reexamining the tendency to drop average students through the cracks, and are coming up with ingenious ways to use technology to instead move “average” to the next level.

Along similar lines, campus execs are using new and improved versions of existing technologies to get better control of finances, technology budgeting and spending, admissions processes, document storage and sharing, business intelligence, and business continuity in the event of a disaster.

And as to the technology investment itself, campus technology leaders are dramatically enhancing data, wired/ wireless network, and device security, and are borrowing formalized quality assurance models from the corporate world in order to end the practice of purchasing and implementing technology that just d'esn’t deliver as promised.

Then there are the tech visionaries who described revenue-generating outsourcing initiatives constructed around new capabilities—thus spreading technology innovation to smaller, less affluent institutions. But there are so many more stories to tell! Though we’ll share our 2006 Innovators with you in August, we also will share countless Innovator entries with you all year long and into 2007. Don’t miss an issue!

Katherine Grayson, Editor-In-Chief
What have you seen and heard? Send to: kgrayson@101com.com.

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