Friday, October 29, 2010

Technologies we need to be thinking about

There are so many technologies being talked about right now, its hard to zero in on what to do next. Here a few that I am thinking about a great deal these days:

Collaboration Tools - There are many of these and collaboration means different things to different people. They seem to fall into two groups, project orientated coll abortion (text, power point, computer programs, wikis ...) and video. Tools like Google Apps and Adobe Buzzwords are pretty good at this. They are also free. These are great for students, faculty and researchers to work together over the web without regard to time or distance. These tools pretty new in higher education, but coming on fast. Video tools are surfacing as a great way to bring guest lecturers into a typical class. These tools range from high cost codec based systems (Polycom, Tandberg) to the low end (and free Skype or MSN video). There are in between products as well which cost less than the high end tools, but may still be out of reach for students, unless the campus purchases a license. Although you might want to check out Dim Dim.

Mobile Apps - Of course everyone is hearing about the iPhone Apps, but similar tools are available on for Android and Blackberry. There has been a notable increase in the number SMART phones owned by students. The number has jumped four fold 2009. SU, and other campuses, need to be thinking about how to leverage these phones to distribute news, academic web content, and administrative services. These apps are about relationship maintaining as well as services. The need for these apps is already here, but by 2012 any campus without a mobile presence will look out of step. Interesting stat "A total of 234 million people age 13 and older in the U.S. used mobile devices in December 2009."(wikipedia). Yes, in one month.

Cloud applications- these are services that do not reside on the campus. The content actually "lives" on external servers. SU recently moved all student email and most student data storage to the cloud with Live@EDU. Campuses need to get out of the email business and along with data storage. Large external providers can provide these services cheaper and better than campuses can. More applications will move to the cloud to reduce costs for campuses and enable tech staff to focus on applications which need to be run from the campus. I doubt most campuses will be moving their registration, financials or admissions systems to the cloud soon. Of course within 3-4 years, this could be a different story. Data centers are very expensive and yet every college has one.

Social Media - Most campuses do not have a social media strategy. the use of Facebook, Twitter, wikis and blogs are either not on the radar or just experiments with no strategic purpose. This will change over the next 2-3 years. A social media strategy will become as essential as a web presence was 5 years ago. Most campuses do not see this coming. Some interesting social media stats from Wikipedia:

- Social networking now accounts for 22% of all time spent online in the US.

- Twitter processed more than one billion tweets in December 2009 and averages almost 40 million tweets per day.

- Over 25% of U.S. Internet page views occurred at one of the top social networking sites in December 2009, up from 13.8% a year before.

- Australia has some of the highest social media usage statistics in the world. In terms of Facebook use Australia ranks highest with almost 9 hours per month from over 9 million users

Time to focus on some new strategies and projects.

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