What if we still had MS Office 4.0
Our greatest challenge in IT may be to slow down. I think we have given our faculty and staff all of the technology advances that they want for a while. I look back on 6 years of IT progress here at GFU and I feel good about how we have kept up with the incredible pace of technology advances. However, I view this through the eyes of a technologist not an academic or administrator. Yes, I think that our faculty and staff have had enough. Enough applications that make their lives easier. Enough upgrades that typically just force relearning and format incompatibility. Enough new social networking trends that bring everyone closer together. Enough new collaboration tools that allow us all to work together.
This is not an isolated observation of my university, isn’t this what is really happening across the personal computer community. Personal computing came with a business model based on complex repackaging and marketed as bigger, better and faster. Pause, what have we been observing for the last few years; smaller, easier, fast enough. Combine this trend with an economic downturn and you have a confused tech industry. We, the IT gatekeepers need to be aware of how this is playing out with our constituents.
How does this translate to my academic and administrative customer base? They seem to be leaning toward smaller, easier and fast enough which is more then adequate for their web based computing needs. They seem to be adapting (with no other choice) to the major enterprise applications that we provide them. But they no longer show much enthusiasm for the myriad of EdTech tools that everyone says will facilitate improved teaching and learning. They greatly appreciate the base applications and IT’s support, but wish that nothing more changed for 5 to 10 years.
Is it possible for the personal computing industry to prosper without change? What if we still had MS Office 4.0 with basic enhancements since 1994. Word 6.0, Excel 5.0, PowerPoint 4.0, Mail, and Access would be more then adequate on an iPad. Not possible from a profit perspective, but just think about what would have happened with computer literacy. The explosion of the Internet would still be what it is today but I think the world would be a happier place. Alright, I just snapped out of that dream.
So can my IT group put on the brakes? Probably not for the enterprise, competitive advantage is still the driving force. But teaching and learning may be better off with more stability. For the most part our university still offers a very traditional face-2-face small class experience, and we are graduating more successful students then ever. We still have all the latest technology, offer the key EdTech tools and keep up with video demand, but success comes from quality teachers guiding students to knowledge. I think it may be a greater challenge for IT to effectively slow down? But will it be more beneficial?