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Are You an Innovator?

We’re looking for the 2005 Campus Technology Innovators, and you and your campus may fit the bill.

Not long ago, during a discussion about technology innovation on US college and university campuses, an IT product vendor and I were discussing what appears to be an all-too-common problem in higher education. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Do you offer consulting services around your product, to help schools innovate with technology?

Vendor: Yes, and sales aside, I wish more campuses would take advantage of those services; it would save everyone a lot of anguish, and could make such a huge difference to the campus.

Me: Anguish? What do you mean?

Vendor: It’s so often the same old story: The CIO (or IT director, or president) decides that our product could bring all sorts of benefits to the school, help the institution attract more students, and keep it competitive. So he makes the big pitch for the expenditure, gets it approved, and the IT team implements it. That’s when the trouble starts.

Me: What kind of trouble? You’ve sold your product, and the school has new technology. Isn’t that a win-win?

Vendor: Sometimes. But often, without a partnership between the institution and the vendor to uncover the product’s potential for a particular campus, the IT team and others on campus may see only a fraction of the benefit the technology can bring to the institution. And without a real understanding of how far the product could take them, and how best to use it to innovate, it’s a hard sell to the rest of the folks on campus who may already be set in their ways with the older technology. In the end, our terrific new product sits unused, or its potential is unrealized; the board is unhappy with the return on investment; our product is blamed for not delivering; and worst of all, the students ultimately are the losers.

Me: What can be done to open the eyes of higher ed administrators?

Vendor: Higher ed needs to look at this more than it has. And it sure would help to highlight and recognize those schools and individuals that have taken their technology investments to new heights. Sometimes, strong vendor/campus partnerships are supporting the innovation; sometimes, a sole campus visionary “gets” it, and markets the potential to the rest of the campus community. Those are the schools and individuals we should applaud…

Clearly, I agree. This August, our first Special Focus on the campuses and individuals driving technology innovation in higher ed will debut: The 2005 Campus Technology Innovators.

Have you and/or your campus realized the potential of a recent technology investment? Have you taken it to the max? Have you worked with, or do you know of a school and/or individual worthy of such recognition? Enter a nomination by contacting Claudia Linh at [email protected], and explain, in a brief paragraph, why your nominee(s) should be considered. Mark your subject line, “2005 Campus Innovator Nomination,” and post by June 15.

About the Author

Katherine Grayson is is a Los Angeles based freelance writer covering technology, education, and business issues.

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