Category Archives: Technology and Social Trends

The book every change agent in higher education should read

Shoot me if I ever begin a presentation with a slide that says: “The world is changing”, followed by some brilliant insights on the impacts of globalization and social media, and concluding with a call for dramatic change in higher education. Fact is, the world has always been changing. And universities, sluggish and monolithic,  have always struggled to respond and stay relevant – relevant enough, that is, to continue to attract the support of trusting taxpayers and hopeful parents.

But what interests me more these days is the role that higher education plays, intentional or not, in preservation, in holding onto things that seem to matter – not just texts and

John King Books in Detroit

John King Books, Detroit, MI. Do visit if you get the chance.

artifacts, but customs and culture, ways of being and doing – in the face of so much pressure to change.  In this current era of rapid transformation around us, I find myself thinking more and more of the comfort of campus, its predictability, and how we decide what we’ll preserve, for better or worse.

And so it was serendipitous that I would discover, on a recent vacation to Detroit, in amongst the one million volumes contained in the four vast floors of  John K King Used & Rare Books on West Lafeyette Blvd., an inspiring collection of essays on the future of American higher education. Continue reading


Apparently, the kids are more than alright

grown-up-digitalA few months ago, I posted a short review of Mark Bauerlein’s The Dumbest Generation, a provocatively titled tirade about his profound disappointment with the so-called digital natives – those born with the advantage of information at their fingertips – and their seemingly narcissistic, celebrity-obsessed, self-indulgent ways.

Now comes the antidote: Grown Up Digital: How the net generation is changing your world by Don Tapscott, author of Wikinomics, and adjunct professor at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. Where Bauerlein sees unhealthy addiction to gaming, Tapscott sees new forms of global collaboration. While Bauerlein laments the loss of literature as a popular pastime, Tapscott revels in the development of new reading skills – non-linear reading that requires sorting and synthesis. In other words, where one sees the end of civilization as we know it, the other sees salvation. Continue reading


Is technology fostering a “generational cocoon”?

Last March, I was involved in the planning of a musical event on our campus to mark the UN Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. We had lined up some students to do the introductions to the day’s performances. A few minutes before showtime, I handed one of the volunteers the text on the background for the day he was to incorporate into his intro. He quickly reviewed it aloud and stopped at the word “apartheid”, stared at it for a moment, and asked, “How do I pronounce this word?” I told him and he dutifully practiced it a couple of times, as if it were his first encounter with the term.

I had a “How can this be?” moment but quickly wrote it off to a range of possible reasonable explanations: a learning disability, nerves, familiarity with the concept but just not the word in written form. He executed his duties smoothly and I applauded his commitment to the issues. Continue reading


What the student affairs professional learned about marketing

Age of engage cover

Perhaps I have succumbed to the dark side. At a recent trip to the local bookstore, I found myself lured toward the business section, that mysterious zone beyond the computer manuals. I ventured there thinking I might find something practical about using new media – aka Web 2.0, aka Social Media, aka the LiveWeb – to engage students in the life of the University. (Yes, I am aware of the irony of going to a bookstore to learn about the internet.) What I found was Denise Shiffman’s The Age of Engage: Reinventing Marketing for Today’s Connected, Collaborative, and Hyperinteractive Culture, a book that I have found immensely useful in rethinking how we communicate with students. Continue reading

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Greetings CACUSS readers!

At today’s Open Book session at CACUSS 2008, you suggested we continue the conversation about books (really just big ideas) online – especially since we had spent much of the session talking about books related to information technology and social networking. So, I’ll kick things off but the success of the blog will be in your hands. Please contribute!

Here Comes EverybodyMy most enthusiastic endorsement from the reading list was Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations. I think the phenomena described in the book have profound implications for institutions and professions, including ours. Shirky argues that web 2.0 technology has put the power of organizing into the hands of ordinary individuals – no longer do they/we need institutions (like colleges and universities) to provide the infrastructure, stability, resources to bring people together. They can find each other, and accomplish things, quite easily in environments like this one. We experienced that today when we spontaneously made the decision to create this blog, rather than make a formal request to the CACUSS board to create an organizationally-supported discussion board. Talk about a teachable moment! Continue reading

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