Bold & Audacious.Part 2

Thank you all for your submissions on ‘bold and audacious’ ideas. As I mentioned in a previous post, I dislike ‘safe.’ Part of our job is to push the envelope, to make people think about how we use technology and, better, how we support the primary mission of the University. We watch industry trends, assess user needs and take steps to converge them at points in the future.

However, while I received some very interesting and provocative comments and ideas, I’m not sure it’s a good idea to include them in the annual report. They are not official, just ideas.

What I received is still worth a look. Sharing them here is a better venue. They’re less official and more open to ongoing debate. Here’s the list so far.

• Do not add any new technologies unless something else of similar value is dropped.

• PSU will never be in the headlines for data security or identity theft incidents

• PSU should block and prohibit all file sharing of music and video files on our network.

• All PSU courses should be developed and presented in WebCT.

• Discontinue support and acquisition of discipline-specific computer clusters. Instead, request that students bring their computers to class

• Require all students to develop ePortfolios.

• If we’re going to standardize on one computer platform, let’s make it Mac.

• Outsource management of the network. It is costly and time-consuming, and others would be willing to come in and provide this service for us.

• Stop using email for news and updates to all employees. Reserve allemp for priority messages. All others should go to the web portal or RSS feeds to which employees can subscribe.

• The role of the librarian as gatekeeper and information overlord has ended. The future of librarianship will go to those who understand and navigate the Google Economy.

• We should place all the reference books and periodicals in storage, retrievable on demand. In their place, we should create more space for students, faculty and staff to work collaboratively and discerningly around online research materials.

• Should we continue to provide email to students when they come to campus with free (and preferred) email accounts?

• Should PSU get out of the phone business? At least we should migrate to VOIP.

• Should we discontinue using Microsoft Office in favor of Google applications that are free and Webiquous?

• Why are we providing computers all over campus if students are bringing their own?

• Why do we not share more hardware and resources with sister campuses in USNH?

• Why don’t we move our Help Desk into the Library (hey, what a good idea!)

Bold & Audacious Goals for ITS

The ITS annual report is just about done. It’s a snapshot in time, a bit of bragging and directions on where we’re going. But so far, it’s a relatively safe document.

I dislike safe. It needs a section on Bold & Audacious. What are the questions that no one wants to ask? What are the sacred cows? What might a naïve outsider ask if s/he was new to our environment?

To seed ideas, here are some questions posed by others at other institutions.

  • Should we continue to provide email to students when they come to campus with free (and preferred) email accounts?
  • Should we get out of the phone business?
  • Should we discontinue using Microsoft Office in favor of Google applications that are free and Webiquous?
  • Why are we providing computers all over campus if students are bringing their own?
  • Why do we not share more hardware and resources with sister campuses in USNH?
  • Why don’t we move our Help Desk into the Library (ooops, that’s a hangover from last year)

I’m asking for your help again. Send me bold and audacious ideas. Send them electronically or written on a piece of paper in an envelope addressed to me. I’ll pick the ten best and get them into the report. Think about things we might start doing, and others we should stop doing.

Maybe they’ll prompt a few more people to read it.

Questions: Blog more? Outsourcing IT?

Thanks to all who helped with the ITS annual report! Here are a couple of questions that came in recent days.
Q. Why don’t you blog more?

A. Blogging takes time. For me, I blog when the notion hits. In the past few months, I’ve found a use for a blog in my role as CIO. The blog allows me to post ideas and issues, news and updates…for me it is a new and provocative avenue of communication to the PSU campus and ITS. However, I’m not going to try and keep a schedule.

Q. There’s more and more being written about outsourcing IT on campuses. Just recently, the U. of Florida opted to outsource their distance learning program in an effort to keep their core efforts on mission critical projects and increase productivity elsewhere. (more on U of F). Is PSU thinking of outsourcing any of its components?

A. If you’re asking if we’ve thought of it, sure. We’d have our heads in the sand if we didn’t. Are we thinking about anything seriously? No, not now.

The core issues around outsourcing is making sure you don’t stretch your people too far on projects or services that are not centrally critical to your overall operation. Higher education already outsources a host of services. Dining services, Web production, payroll, information systems, course management systems, cleaning and maintenance, and residential life are outsourced by higher ed campuses. PSU outsources dining services and power production.

Should we be considering outsourcing elements of ITS? Sure. As our costs to operate systems on this campus continue to grow, we need to apply the same principles of due diligence. If an aspect of our operation can be done well and possibly for less cost, we should explore it further, particularly if additional services can be developed.

On the other hand, there isn’t a lot of competition to perform those services up in these parts. And, we have some serious talent in ITS that has developed some of the finest IT services around. We’re real proud of what we do and the systems we deliver.

Yet higher education is no different from any other industry struggling with the high cost of technology. I expect we’ll see more and more competition from outside services. That is good: it will keep us on our toes.

Comments?