Category Archives: Christian

Well Rounded Education

In my many years as an IT leader in Higher Education there has always been a relationship with corporate partners who are looking to gain a recruiting advantage for our graduates. When I was at the Christian George Fox University the recruiters would come through me looking for any tech savvy grads I was aware of because they desired their solid work ethics and integrity. Here at Missouri S&T the recruiters are looking for an advantage in connecting with our best students. Problem here is that we do not produce enough graduates so the recruiters are looking for any opportunity possible to lure the student to consider their company.

We know that employers of our tech graduates in the US desire that our grads possess stronger communication and collaboration skills. And I think it is understood that more technology awareness is desired for all graduates. But it has been interesting to confirm feedback from recruiters of our S&T grads that defines how highly they prize our none STEM graduates. Yes, we do produce some graduates with degrees in the humanities, and they are sought after because they are forced to have a strong technology based foundation. This is partly because of the general curriculum requirement of at least 10 natural science or mathematic credits. But the employers say it is also because of the technology culture of the campus which forces those grads to become extremely comfortable working with their fellow STEM students. Due to the many cross discipline group projects our humanities students learn valuable skills in how to work with these sometimes socially challenged STEM students.

Not sure if this justifies anything but it sure can’t hurt to consider greater exposure to STEM curriculum and culture for all college graduates. We do need these humanities grads to help those scientists and engineers have more productive careers.

This recent Bloomberg article “Silicon Valley’s Talent Grab Spawns High School Interns” should be a wake up call for Higher Ed’s inability to produce enough product. Reality is, why wouldn’t tech firms get their recruits on the front end. Of course that is what we should be doing more of.

Reflections & Migration to Google went Well

I’m at MSP waiting for my flight back to Portland and had time to reflect on the week. Last weekend we migrated all of our University (faculty, staff & students) to Google gmail. All indications are that the migration went really well. An excellent value proposition, we essentially get Unified Communications with serious email resources and Google gets target marketing data and an excellent chance for lifetime customers.

The reason for the trip to Minnesota was our annual CCCU Technology Conference, that is the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, which is a very good cross section of small to medium size institutions of Higher Education. I gave a presentation entitled “Will the iPad Change Higher Education?”. The key message was how GFU was going to support the iPads that some of our freshman would choose from our “Connected Across Campus” program. Unfortunately my presentation was mostly about how we would deal with the deficiencies of the iPad, but we did get to a more open discussion. E-Textbooks are not happening, and cloud collaboration should be a key to the future of iPad type devices.

General networking discussions leaned toward frustration and disappointment with Microsoft’s product strategy. How Microsoft’s arrogance prevents them from being innovative, but also how Apple’s arrogance is starting to look a lot more like Microsoft. Hmmm, history always seems to repeat itself. Interesting observations about the leadership of these 2 companies. Microsoft’s hope is that Ballmer will leave. Apple’s fear is that Jobs will leave.

Christ Centered Survival

After reading a number of recent articles and posts about the imminent demise of higher education as we know it. I felt it was important to identify why at least my institution will survive. I do agree that the forces of change brought on by the Internet, technology and the economic downturn have and will cause dramatic change to higher education as we have known it. The recent article in the Chronicle by Mark Parry: Colleges Will Be ‘Torn Apart’ by Internet, Law Professor Predicts is recap of an article in the Washington Post by Zephyr Teachout: A Virtual Revolution Is Brewing for Colleges. Ms Teachout mostly pitches the fact that economic realities will force higher education to change mostly in favor of a less expensive and more flexible online delivery model. And of course another recent article by Steve Lohr in the New York Times, Study Finds That Online Education Beats the Classroom, confirms that “On average, students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction.”

Yes, Yes, Yes, I agree, I understand, but should I over-react and push for something like hitching our online wagon to a subsidiary of the Apollo Group? No, what I see as the key to survival for Private Higher Education is the experiential component. Of course that is the number one argument typically thrown up by academics who want to preserve this perfect collegial world. And it is a valid argument, but one that is weakening. Academic experience is important but it is the type of academic community experience that will justify the traditional college value. And I believe that is why our University’s Christ Centered approach is the reason we will survive. Combining traditional collegial experience with solid academics in a community built on love for one another creates the lifelong value that redefines a college degree. And just to clarify, this experience is also be realized in our Hybrid Learning Programs.

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