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Collaboration

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Bill Cooper didn't mince words when Stanford University officials contacted him about coming on board as their director of purchasing. "I said, 'No, I'm not interested in a fragmented function and I'm not interested in an institution that has just a director of purchasing,'" recalls Cooper, who now has an office at ... Stanford.

Thirty years ago, we knew that larger institutions would consume smaller, more fragile schools - pure mergers as they came to be known. Yet, during the early higher ed merger mania era, many found that consolidations of venerable institutions offered a creative and more equitable non-merger alternative – read as, Azusa Pacific University, Birmingham-Southern College, Carnegie Mellon University, Carson-Newman University, Case Western Reserve University, Clark Atlanta University, University of Detroit Mercy, and William and Hobart Smith Colleges.

The classroom furniture and touch-screen displays at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business work in tandem to facilitate collaborative learning. The five-piece desks can be placed in multiple configurations around the displays.

First-year MBA students in the action-based degree program at University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business spend seven weeks working with a U.S. or international company. After that, they form seven-member teams to propose a solution to a problem they encountered in the corporate world.

Four major university systems will share online courses, analytics and learning-management software through a cloud-based digital education platform called Unizin, portions of which launched in July.

Developed by Indiana University, Colorado State University, the University of Florida and the University of Michigan, Unizin will house everything from homework videos to flipped classroom content to distance learning courses—plus all the data that’s generated.

When Ohio State students requested a campus life mobile app, Steve Fischer, director of web and mobile apps (standing, left) and his team collaborated on the project that made it happen.

In today’s higher ed world, no department can work in a vacuum, least of all IT. From understanding the business plan to knowing how a web page or application will be used and by whom before it is designed and built, the days of CIOs and their teams working independently are gone.

IT administrators are spending more time than ever before collaborating with other departments to ensure there is a clear understanding of a project’s mission and to generate a more successful outcome.

The President’s Task Force  Committee at Salisbury University is an example of how multiple  departments can work with IT. On  the committee is Simeon Ananou (seated, with laptop), as well as his colleagues from the provost’s office, student affairs, registrar, financial aid, general counsel, HR, web  communications and two academic departments.

Within the next few years, as the ROI of collaboration becomes increasingly known, expect cross-departmental teamwork to be integral to the way all IT projects are handled, says Kamalika Sandell, associate CIO of American University. “There will be fewer boundaries in IT, and that will allow input to happen fluidly throughout the regular course of doing business,” she notes.

Simeon Ananou, CIO of Salisbury University in Maryland, sees a future higher ed model where IT and curriculum are integrated.

Working in Groups
Vaddio’s GroupSTATION, designed for mid-to large-size meeting spaces, allows up to 20 people to share a PowerPoint presentation, stream a training video from YouTube, or collaborate with remote participants. Users can connect a laptop or tablet directly into GroupSTATION, which consists of two main components: a table-based MicPOD dock, and a wall-mounted sound bar that incorporates an HD camera in its center. The MicPOD Dock functions as a microphone, speakerphone, and user interface. www.vaddio.com

Avila University had a communications problem. Or rather, a communications coordination problem.

A flawed process prevented admissions representatives, coaches, department chairs and others from knowing what each had told prospective students. The confusion hindered administrators at the private Catholic school that prides itself on getting to know every single one of its 1,800 students.

As I write this, the markets have tumbled again, the Chronicle notes "renewed jitters" at colleges and universities, and Moody's warns of a mounting backlog of deferred maintenance on campuses, a sign to rating agencies of weakened financial positions.

regent

Blackboard, the ubiquitous online course-management tool, is a valuable resource for faculty, staff, and administrators alike. However, its learning outcomes are only as good as the quality of material that faculty members use to build all of their courses on the back end—a typically lengthy process. So when Regent University (Va.) officials decided to add an undergraduate business major and approached the school’s Center for Teaching & Learning in April 2008 to develop and deploy 40 online courses over the next year, CTL staff knew they had to find a different way of doing things.

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