Sunday, February 1, 2009

Envisioning and planning transinstitutional work in the age of the cloud

Google Apps for Education. Moodle. Kuali. Rapidly declining bandwidth costs, increasingly enterprise-ready cloud computing platforms, and maturing open source tools are changing the landscape of possibility. Many of our institutions already benefit from consortial projects to purchase or support information services, and collaborative projects are possible now on a scale not imaginable even a few years ago. In this highly interactive and action-oriented session, we engage the audience in a series of brainstorming and analytical exercises intended to serve as springboards for next generation projects. The adventure begins now.

1 comment:

  1. The origins of this session lie in Pam McQuesten's challenge to think in new ways about how we enable teaching/learning/research on our campus. I think she has in mind ways that are not incrementally but rather qualitatively different from the ways we have heretofore configured the services and materials we provide to our campuses. This challenge gains particular urgency not only because of the "bad new days" we are all beginning to live through budgetarily but because of the tools that technology is making available to us.

    Collaboration is not a new mode of doing business, of course, and one way or another we have been exhorted to do so for years and years, just as we have been exhorted to innovate and explore the new. But these days we have many more ways, and maybe different incentives, for making arrangements transinstitutionally through “the network” to accomplish tasks we have been doing ourselves, whether that network be the so called cloud (the cynics among you will remind us of Cloud Cuckoo Land) or a network of libraries or a network of open-source developers. For example, in the bad old days, every library had to build an ever bigger building to house the materials students and faculty need in order to provide those materials in a timely fashion; in these new days, it makes less and less sense to build such facilities locally, whether for physical or electronic materials, given the incentives the network of libraries offers for not building everything ourselves.

    One of NILTE's missions is to serve as a medium through which colleges work on matters of mutual interest, and it is this dimension of NITLE that speaks particularly to this session and its potential outcomes. It will follow on the program a session led by Rick Holmgren on "core/context" aspects of our business. Whatever other reasons a student may have for attending a liberal arts college, they enter the niche market we inhabit in order to gain a certain kind of classroom experience, a certain kind of relationship with faculty and staff, and an education framed in a certain way. I hope these two sessions can help us find ways to ensure that we are offering our students and faculty the best chances for achieving that educational experience.