Posts Tagged ‘education’

Outsourcing Technology – Fears in Higher Ed

Administrators and faculty make the best decision possible for their institution, right?

I offer that is a Yes and No answer.

Items that may get in the way include: fear of the unknown, change, ego, finances, staffing, local, state & federal laws, etc.

A quote that stood out to me in an article over on eCampus News about this topic resonated with me.

“If outsourcing frees us up to focus on the core business of educating without risking the quality of service (and peoples livelihoods), then it is a good thing,”
Source: http://www.ecampusnews.com/research/higher-education-proves-resistant-to-outsourcing-technology/print/

That *should* be the goal of a school but it’s not always that simple. After all, higher ed institutions are in the business of providing an education not building networks or buildings or roads. That said, all of those things provide a means to an education. Finding the balance through open dialog and research is where we’ll all find the sweet spot.

The past 5 years (or so) have allowed more and more people to understand what options are available for each of the systems needed by a higher ed institution. In fact more and more schools are moving their email systems off-campus. By the fall I expect that more schools will have their email off-campus than on-campus.

Will these outsourced systems because as regularly used as electricity is? In the early days of electricity was like our IT world of today. Each company built and ran their own systems until there was a cheaper way – outsourcing.

Maintaining privacy for key data is going to be at the top of everyone’s list when discussing any form of upgrade or migration. How many schools would then bring in an outside consultant with little or no emotional or political attachment to the existing infrastructure to decide what a best decision would be? Due to the cost, the answer is likely “None.”

Questions for you

  • Is there a system that is off limits at your institution?
  • Where does email fit into the discussion?
  • Are students and faculty involved in these types of discussions?
  • Does your administration play it safe or are they boldly leading the charge?
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Cheating Turnitin.com

Thanks fo the recent article from eCampus News titled “The top 10 ways college students plagiarize” I am now in the loop on cheating.

Cheating happens but with the advent of so many new types of software and sources of information determining if something is original or a copy isn’t the easiest of things to do. Turnitin.com aims to resolve that issue for schools.

Students on the other hand have people from all around the world trying to make Turnitin.com into nothing but a blip in the radar.

Following instructions in text can sometimes be confusing so countless videos have been posted to sites like YouTube and metacafe instructing anyone how to get around Turnitin.com’s algorithms. Of course it is all presented as information only. I should say the posters who think ahead include that brief note. 😉

One video I watched had over 11k views. Does the method still work? It’s possible though Turnitin.com will continue to improve their software and those trying to get around the algorithm will find other ways to win.

This was something new for me because of the unique projects that Sarah Lawrence has taking place in the classroom. Very few projects are copyable which means students have to do research for their papers.

Questions for you

Have you seen anyone get or try to get around Turnitin.com or other software like it?

What software is used at your school?

YouTube Partnerships for Everyone Inside and Outside the Classroom!

In the classroom students are taught a number of things. One of those things is to think on their own. Another is to create content. Often times it is for a class assignment. Often those projects inspire future ideas. It’s exactly what the education setting should be doing.

What happens when students gets inspired, talks to a friend who then talks to another friend which leads them to an ongoing YouTube series? My reaction is to call it like I see it, success! Students taking what they’re learning, collaborating, using a variety of technologies for a creative project is going to help them in the short and long term. I tip my hat to all of these intrepid creatives.

Looking around us it’s obvious that this has been happening around the world for years but YouTube just did something that will change the landscape for ever – everyone can make money on videos they upload. That’s right – everyone.

Hers is the official announcement  – http://youtubecreator.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/being-youtube-creator-just-got-even.html

What does this mean for schools?

Well, at first glance it shouldn’t mean much but if we look a little deeper we might find some gaps in the classroom and in the student handbook.

In the classroom

Students are taught how to work in the known business world and a few schools see an opportunity to teach social media in Communication schools but what seems to be missing is the recognition that these pieces are not one thing or another. Social media is a business just like in-person networking events and office environments.

How many faculty have been successful with the use of these tools?

Dare I step back another step to ask, how many faculty are even using these tools?

This push by YouTube is going to have a mega-impact on entertainment, education and any other form of visual experience. Who is going to teach this to the next generation of students?

In the handbook

At Sarah Lawrence College the 2011-2012 Student Handbook states the following about “Computer and Network Acceptable Use.”

Acceptable Behavior

… In general, any uses of Sarah Lawrence College’s computer facilities that infringe on another individual’s right to privacy, adversely affect the user community, or are not allowed under the terms of our software licenses are prohibited.

  • commercial activities, such as development of software for sale, work undertaken to support any company, or other contracted work

Note: I’m not a lawyer, my interpretation of the policy topic is meant to be an exercise only. All of these bullets consider  that monetization enabled.

  • If a student creates a video for someone who will then post the content to YouTube
  • A student creates a video in their room and posts it to YouTube
  • A class project is purchased by Funny or Die and is sent via the campus network

Is the student breaking the school policy and even if they are, who is going to enforce it and how could it be enforced?

In the past commercial activities were relatively easy to separate from a ‘regular’ daily life. Over the past 8 years that has changed significantly. Yesterday, YouTube shattered the glass ceiling.

The question “How can I make money on YouTube?” is answered with 3 words, upload a video.

My questions for you, dear reader…

  • What are other schools doing to address the social media issue and how it has become a new financial model for, quite literally anyone?
  • Are faculty required to use at least one social media site?
  • Are schools willing to have the discussion of the social media landscape in the classroom?
  • Is your school so strict that it’s trying to force these tools into only one school of thought vs. many or all?

Please ask your questions below and rip apart my policy game exploration. I may have zero ground to stand on, then again it might be time for schools to reconsider their network policies.