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Max’s Minute: The Future of Technology in Higher Ed, Part I

Boise State University CIO Max Davis-Johnson talks about the future of technology in higher education in Part I of this multi-part video series.

Max introduces us to the ways we can approach the future and how the Office of Information Technology prepares for, and in some cases, creates the future for technology at Boise State.

He also discusses the diversity of technology utilized in higher ed and how the Office of Information Technology at Boise State approaches the design, maintenance, and support of the technology we use on campus.

Transcript: Max’s Minute: The Future of Technology in Higher Ed, Part I

>> MAX: I’m going to talk about the future of technology in higher ed.

>> TITLE: Max’s Minute: The Future of Technology in Higher Ed: A Multi-Part Series

>> MAX: Hi, this is Max Davis-Johnson, Boise State University.

I’m going to talk about the future of technology in higher ed. It’s not, there’s subtle difference here, it’s not the future of OIT at Boise State, it’s the future of technology in higher ed.

There are a number of different approaches you can take with the future.

You can ignore it, which you probably don’t want to do.

You can predict it. And predicting can be good, especially if you happen to hit what’s going to happen, but if you miss–you have to be a little cautious there.

You can prepare for the future. And, I think, that’s the focus of what I’m going to talk about, is how we can prepare for the future of technology in higher ed.

And we can create the future. And, hopefully, we’re doing a little bit of that as we move forward.

So, I think to start out with, there’s some basic assumptions about technology in higher ed.

I’ve talked in the past about technology but it’s also important to remember technology is technology, people, and process. And, really to be successful, you need all three.

You can have great technology, but if you have bad processes or bad people, your technology isn’t going to work. Sometimes your processes and your people can make up for bad technology, but typically the process then will be a work around, it’s not effective or efficient.

And you can have people that make up for a lot of bad processes and people over time get burned out and it’s just not a good situation to be in.

The whole idea is here as we look to the future, is we want to be able to not only create the future, but we want to be able to prepare for the future.

Another key assumption that I think is important, and I’ve talked about this even more than that one, is the idea that technology in higher ed is unique.

Any single technology in higher ed you can see at various places and industry. It’s rare when you see the fact that we have transactional systems, where we have classroom technology, we have learning management systems, we have research technology, high performance computing networks. We have massive data sets that we deal with.

We have a unique set of customers. Students, who get refreshed on an annual basis. We have faculty members that, rightfully so, have high demands that we need to be able to take care of.

So at the end of the day this creates a unique technical environment in higher ed that we need to be able to adapt, to respond to.

And then the other primary thing is just our approach to technology. I’ve used this analogy before, but, it’s trains, it’s tracks, and it’s fans.

The idea using trains, is the idea we have to keep the trains running on time. That means networks need to be available, systems need to be available. We move data around all the time and, if we do it right, you never know that we’re doing this.

At the same time, we have to be able to lay new track. We have to be able to bring in new technology, new systems, we make modifications to systems, but the idea is we’re laying new track for the trains to go on. And that’s also part of our mission.

And then the other thing is what I call fans. We need to be able to, what I call create raving fans. We want fans to reach out to us. We want fans to be happy about what we do. We want to be sure we can help our customers, students, faculty, and staff.

We want to make sure we can help them get the job done using technology. And that’s our core mission.

I think as we look to the future of technology in higher ed, we have to keep all these things in mind as we start to move forward.

So as I talk a little bit more about the future, I am going to talk about some specific technologies, whether that’s artificial intelligence, machine learning, certainly the cloud is, we’re starting to move to, that will continue to be a big part of our portfolio going forward.

But again, our ability to be interoperable in all these environments. You’ve heard things like big data–yes, we’re going to be dealing with big data in the future. You’ve heard topics of cybersecurity, even though we don’t like to talk too much about it, that’s going to become even more important in the future. So we need to be able to prepare for that future in technology in higher ed.

And then talk a little bit about some practices too that will help us prepare for the future. And in some cases, create the future. Thank you.

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