IT: Gatekeepers or Visionaries?

by Kristen Abell

Yesterday during the #satech chat, the topic came up of the role of IT folks in implementing new technologies on campuses. One of the things that continues to be a struggle for many of us is the fact that we are woefully behind in the IT world – not just behind other campuses, but behind the business world at large. Some of this is lack of money, some of this is lack of training, and some of this is a comfort with what we’re already doing.

But some of this – and this is where the chat went slightly rogue – is due to our IT departments. While those on the chat seemed to be more of the do first, ask forgiveness later type, they were also open to admitting that plenty of IT folks work more as gatekeepers – trying to prevent anyone from delving too far into a new technology before they’d had a chance to fully investigate it and ensure it’s relevance and appropriateness for the university.

I admit, I can see both sides – it’s nice to be able to support folks who know what they’re doing, but to prevent folks from getting too far into something if they don’t. It’s also necessary to protect the university’s servers, not to mention their reputation and liability. But with the changing pace of technology now, and the increased call for everyone in higher ed to have some tech competency, does that also change the role of the IT professional?

How do you work with IT at your university? Do you have gatekeepers or visionaries? What do you think the role of IT should be on a college campus?

Special thanks to those on the #satech chat yesterday for inspiring this post!

IT: Gatekeepers or Visionaries?

Linkage Love: Beyonce, Technology and Connection

by Anitra Cottledge

Remember this YouTube critique of Beyonce’s “Run the World (Girls)” song/video from last year?

Whether you agree with the YouTube critique or not, whether you like the song or not, whether you think Beyonce is awesome, a feminist, an iconic entertainer, all of the above or none of the above — you have to admit she does know how to work technology to engage her fans and to share (carefully chosen) pieces of herself and her life.

A few examples:

• When Beyonce debuted her Tumblr site earlier this year, everyone was all aflutter. The Tumblr site features personal Beyonce photos through the years. Beyonce shared this message with her fans, “I Am: This is my life, today, over the years – through my eyes. My family, my travels, my love. This is where I share with you, This will continue to grow as I do. Love, Beyonce.”

• Queen B used her website to post a very touching letter to FLOTUS Michelle Obama about the ways in which FLOTUS has inspired her. The kicker? FLOTUS personally responding to the letter via Twitter.

• Beyonce’s hubby Jay-Z posted the first pictures of their daughter, Blue Ivy, on his website.

• Back on the Tumblr site, she posts two video previews of her first post-baby show, Revel. P.S. FLOTUS and her daughters were in attendance at the show.

• And just as an added bonus, Melissa Harris-Perry mentioned on her show this weekend that she would love to have both FLOTUS and Beyonce come spend some time with her in #nerdland. (I, for one, think that would be a really interesting conversation.)

Again, I think the moments that are shared by Beyonce — or any other celebrity or public figure, for that matter — are carefully planned. After all, Beyonce is notoriously protective of her privacy, and I think that makes sense.

The real question for fans is: do the ways in which Beyonce and her team utilize technology promote a sense of connection or intimacy in her fans? And from a practical standpoint, as those of us in student affairs look for innovative ways to use technology to connect with students, staff and faculty, are there lessons to be learned from pop culture and stars like Beyonce?

Linkage Love: Beyonce, Technology and Connection

Bragging Versus Celebrating: Is there A Gender Gap in How We React to Accomplishments?

By Kathryn Magura

In a recent conversation with a friend of mine, we were discussing how men and women tend to react differently when they win something. The conversation stemmed from the fact that I recently won an award from ACUHO-I for the Article of the Year for an article I wrote for our Talking Stick Journal with a colleague.

During our conversation, my friend asked me if I had shared the news with my colleagues at work. I responded that I had told my supervisor and a few coworkers, and had posted the news on Facebook and Twitter. I didn’t feel it should be my role to send something out to our department, because I didn’t want to be perceived as bragging. My friend pointed out to me that I should be very proud of my award, because it is a reflection of all my hard work and commitment to my national association. My friend further pointed out that if I were a man, I would have shouted my achievement from the rooftops.

This comment really got me thinking. Why didn’t I share my achievement more broadly? If I did “shout it from the rooftops” would I come across as egocentric and bragging? Would this perception be the same if I was a man? What role does gender play in how we approach celebrating accomplishments?

Since we had this conversation, I have been continuing to think about the perceived gender gap in celebration of accomplishments. In the past, whenever I have accomplished a big goal or won something, I have been quick to share credit with others, and often belittle the level of honor I deserve. Do I do this because it is a female tendency? Do my male counterparts do the same?

If there is a gender discrepancy in honoring awards and accomplishments, how do we change it? How do we make it okay for everyone (man, woman, whatever) to be proud of what they have accomplished?

Oh, and for the record: I AM SO EXCITED AND HONORED TO HAVE WON THIS DISTINGUISHED AWARD! There, that felt good.

Bragging Versus Celebrating: Is there A Gender Gap in How We React to Accomplishments?

Breaking through the firewall: #womentech, Tell YOUR Story

We would LOVE for you to be a part of our presentation.  We are hoping that you would be willing to tape a short video (or type a response) answering 2 or more of the below questions.  Once we have all of the video clips we will be editing them together to show our audience how other women in tech have found success, overcome any barriers to success, and share the excitement and joy of women using tech.

QUESTIONS (answer in 1-2 minutes each):

  • Tell us your tech story, how did your excitement for technology begin?
  • What are barriers to you using tech?
  • What supports have you had to using tech?
  • Has anyone ever made you believe you couldn’t be doing tech/shouldn’t be doing tech?
  • How have people encouraged your use of technology?
  • What are ways that you explore new technology?
  • How have you connected to other women in technology?
  • Tell us about one or two ways you’ve utilized technology in your position. Tell us a little about how you made it happen.
  • How can you be an ally for women in tech? (all gender identities welcome to respond!)

HOW TO SHARE YOUR ANSWERS:
If you decide to share your responses via writing, just reply to this blog post.

If you are willing (as we are hoping!) we would love to get as many video clips as possible.  You can share your video clip by uploading it to YouTube or Vimeo and sending us the link. Please submit videos and responses by May 31, 2012.

PLEASE feel free to forward this blog post to anyone in your network who you think would be willing to participate!

My story, anwsering the question: “Tell us your tech story, how did your excitement for technology begin?

Breaking through the firewall: #womentech, Tell YOUR Story

Linkage Love: Watching TV on a Budget

By Kathryn Magura

About 6 months ago I moved to a new place and got a sweet deal for fancy HD TV from my cable provider. This deal only lasted 6 months, so I knew my fun would come to an end soon. In an effort to be proactive in finding out what my costs would be sans my deal, I have been working with my cable provider to see what my costs will soon be.

At first I was dejected, then angry, to hear that my cable and internet would be almost $150 per month. PER MONTH! Are you kidding me? I love watching TV, but even I would consider going without at that steep price. How has cable gotten so expensive? Do they really expect us to pay exorbitant amounts for entertainment? What is the breaking point?

I’ve been researching ways to watch my favorite shows without paying such a high cost through some innovative technology. Thought I would share some of those resources with you today for our Linkage Love.

  1. Roku: A year ago I got a Roku player that allows me to stream various channels to my TV. One of the great things about Roku is that the box isn’t too expensive, and there are no monthly fees. Once you buy it, it’s yours. Then you need to find the channels you want to stream and enjoy! Speaking of channels, some of the options I list below have their own channels available on Roku.
  2. Hulu Plus: I definitely recommend subscribing to Hulu Plus to stream your favorite shows. For just $7.99 (currently) a month, you can get most current shows. The downside? Not all shows get streamed here (cable channels are especially bad), and some shows are only available for a certain duration of time, or aren’t available right away. You need to figure out when your favorite shows are available – and for how long – and plan accordingly.
  3. Netflix Streaming: I stopped getting those silly little discs in the mail ages ago, but one thing I love is the ability to stream shows and movies via Netflix. Netflix streaming is a great way to catch up on old shows (I recently caught up on my nostalgia for The Wonder Years), or get addicted to new ones. The downside? Not everything is available for streaming. I’ve also found that sometimes they have a few seasons of a show available for streaming, but not all of them. HMPH. You just have to be careful, I suppose.
  4. Channel Master: A friend of mine recently ditched cable for a Channel Master. This unique system uses antenna technology to bring you many TV channel options for free. All you have to do is pay the initial set up charges (which can be a lot) and you’re done! After a couple of months, this system will more than pay for itself. The downside? As I said, the initial costs are expensive, so you need to plan accordingly. Also, once again cable channels have not yet embraced this technology.
  5. Amazon Instant Viewer: Are you an Amazon Prime member? If so, you have access to a plethora of TV shows and movies. Some cost money, and some are free, so you need to check your prices. Did you know you can get a free limited membership with a .edu account? Try it!

These are just some of the growing options available to save costs on watching TV or movies by cutting cable all together. By exploring some of these options, it is my hope to be about to cut down my monthly costs. Hopefully some of these tips can help you save as well!

Linkage Love: Watching TV on a Budget

Blogger’s Choice: Disconnecting

By Lysa Salsbury

It seems particularly apt that I (probably the least techy of all the SAWTT bloggers) would follow Brenda (in my mind, Supreme Queen of Tech) with a post about how to get away from technology over the summer. My formerly 10-month position is transitioning to 12-month next year, which leaves me with only one month this summer, instead of two, to truly empty my mind of All Things Work and Get Away From It All. And get away from it all I will, goshdarnit. It’s already pretty easy, I have to confess—after all, unlike most professionals my age, I have no smart phone, no iPad, no cable or satellite TV, only one home computer that I share with my husband, a Logitech Squeezebox that I would have a hard time living without (this might have to be the exception to my tech-free summer), and an iPod Touch that my son has appropriated to watch Netflix and play Angry Birds. But I do rely on steady doses of technology-enabled support on a daily basis, so not falling back on technology is going to be a challenge, even for me.

So here’s how I plan to do it. Lysa’s Guide for Living (Temporarily) Without Technology:

1)      Read newspapers. Much as I grouse about the lack of national and international news in our small local newspapers, I will consume my news in print form every morning instead of online. I will actually listen to Morning Edition on NPR instead of using it as wake-up background noise.

2)      Consult real cookbooks. I’ll actually look in my huge library of cookbooks for recipes and culinary tips instead of falling back on browsing Epicurious or Chow. That pristine copy of The Joy of Cooking that my in-laws gave us for our wedding 20 years ago might actually see some action this summer.

3)      Write real letters. On paper. The kind you stamp and mail. I plan to use the summer to catch up on overdue correspondence with old friends, and write letters instead of just emailing. Letter writing is such an undervalued, almost lost, art. I deeply value and treasure each and every handwritten missive I receive these days. They’re so few and far between.

4)      Call instead of text. I’m as much of a fan as the next person for a quick text instead of a phone call, but sometimes the text conversation gets awfully lengthy and I find myself wondering if it wouldn’t just be a whole lot quicker (not to mention more personal) to use the phone for the primary purpose for which it is intended…

5)      Limit Facebook use. Facebook, argh. That’s a tricky one. A transplant to the U.S. from my native England, it’s how I keep in touch with family goings-on back home. That one’s up for some deliberation still. My mother demands weekly anecdotes and photo updates of her grandchildren.

6)      Read for pleasure. I don’t have a Kindle or a Nook or any other kind of e-reader device, so I’m looking forward to delving into some paperbacks I’ve been saving for the summer. On my To Read list: Half the Sky, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (currently halfway through it, can’t put it down), and my colleagues are strangely compelled by the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, so I guess I’ll check that out, too.

7)      No TV. I will not watch movies at home or DVDs of primetime shows, not even to exercise to.

8)      Designate family tech-free time. Tom and I have been trying for a long time to have regular designated times where everyone in the house has to do something together that doesn’t involve technology. Common activities include playing a silly game, going for a bike ride on the Latah Trail, cooking a big meal together, or hiking with the dog up at Idler’s Rest.

9)      Play music. We plan to spend a lot more time this summer playing music together, and less time downloading music on iTunes.

10)   I. Will. Not. Check. My. Work. Email.

So there you have it. Ten Simple Steps to Enjoying a Technology-Free Life. Think I can do it? Stay tuned…

Blogger’s Choice: Disconnecting

Blog Prompt: Summer Projects & Technology

By Brenda Bethman

Today’s blog prompt is: “Do you have summer ‘projects?’ What are they, and will you be using technology to help you accomplish them?”

My answer, is “oh, yes, I have summer projects!” A whole list of them — a list that I sometimes refer to as the “more work than any one human could possibly complete in three months.” But my summer projects list is always like that — overly ambitious and unachievable. I used to think I should fix that, but I’ve given up. I like having a long list to pick and choose from. I know I won’t accomplish everything, but that’s okay.

So, here’s my list and the technology I’ll be using to help me accomplish the tasks:

Revise syllabi for my fall courses. The textbook we use for first semester German has a new edition and I’m bored with my Introduction to Women’s & Gender Studies textbook, so I’ll be choosing a new one. This means that both courses need a revised syllabus. Not much new there, as I tend to at least tweak my syllabi every summer. This year, however, I plan to learn how to use Scrivener to help keep my courses together. I’ll also be deciding what technology (blogs, social media, etc.) to use in both classes and learning the new online tools that come with the German textbook. Finally, I’ll also use my favorite piece of old school “tech” to keep my classes organized:

Source: http://www.barnesandnoble.com

(Seriously — I love my Moleskine notebooks. I use them for everything — classes, lists, research projects, etc. For my fall classes, I went with orange. And now that I’ve poked around the site to write this, I really, really want the Vienna city journal).

Other projects involve technology more directly. For example, I am determined that this will be the summer that I finally really learn Dreamweaver. I’m okay with it now, but I know there’s more it can do that I need to learn. I’d also like to learn how to use iMovie, but that’s a lower priority.

Then there are the projects that one never seems to get around to during the year such as cleaning up the office’s shared drive; analyzing blog, web, and social media statistics to see what needs to be tweaked; setting up new Facebook pages; and uploading photos to Flickr and Facebook (I realized recently that while most of them are there, there are a lot that predate my tenure here that aren’t).

Last but not least are the non-tech projects like catching up on filing and book purging (both at home and at the office).

Add to that a full schedule of new student orientations and the usual planning for the upcoming academic year, and I’ve got a full plate. I should also mention that in addition to the tech tools mentioned above, I’ll also be using my usual companions, the iPhone and iPad. We just got new iPads for the office and I’ve noticed that I’m using it a lot more. Add some productivity apps like Simplenote, QuickOffice, and Wunderlist, and I am set for the summer.

What about you? Do you have summer projects? If so, what technology will you be using to help get them done?

Blog Prompt: Summer Projects & Technology