TECHNOLOGY & INNOVATION
For many of us, the adage “the customer is always right” still holds true. A customer-centric strategy is so important, in fact, that any organization that finds a way to serve customers better will be able to disrupt even the most well-established industry. Nowadays, of course, such solutions often involve technology.
The higher education community has a lingering discomfort with the notion of “customers,” at least in some quarters. To be sure, the institutional mission of educating learners, particularly when we think about providing a formative experience to young people, does not equate to the corporate mission of selling products. Yet we shouldn’t forget that students — along with staff, faculty, researchers, alumni, donors and community partners — are our customers, and IT teams have immense power to give them a great experience or one that’s not so great.
Steve Jobs was famous for flipping this notion on its head. As he said to BusinessWeek back in 1998, “It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” People have been debating this statement ever since, but it’s hard to argue with Jobs’s larger point about innovation. Change is tough, and it’s even harder when the change agent must first convince users of the merits of a new direction.
A group of researchers at the University of Newcastle in Australia have pioneered a game-changing conductive ink that can be used to create paper-thin solar panels. The panels can be printed using standard printers and have a very low cost of production. They are currently in their final testing stage.
Despite wide concern about cyberattacks, outages and privacy violations, most experts believe the Internet of Things will continue to expand successfully the next few years, tying machines to machines and linking people to valuable resources, services and opportunities
During recent interviews with education technology decision-makers at institutions of higher education, I was struck by the sometimes extreme views formed about vendors during the process of procuring tools to support teaching and learning. Company representatives are anathema to some, yet indispensable partners to others.
Yet all higher-ed institutions need and use technology, and most rely on external developers rather than develop their own tools. As a result, like them or not, relationships with vendors must be developed and sustained.
So what makes a particular product or company more “trustworthy” than others? That was a major question we explored at the EdTech Efficacy Academic Research Symposium in Washington D.C. last month. The most common factors, according to our research, include the company’s capacity to deliver high quality products at scale, track record, product roadmap, financial stability, and quality of partner relationships.
Facebook is testing new features in its developer community that, if rolled out across the platform, could let anyone on the social networking service teach online courses.
Moderators of some Facebook groups listed as school or class have recently noticed that they can add course units that link to one another. As members of the groups work their way through the units, their efforts are tracked by a progress bar.
The features are part of an initiative, known as Developers Circles, to connect local developers with one another that Facebook launched at this spring at its developers conference, F8. The company is working with online education provider Udacity to create training programs for developers who participate in the circles.
On its website, Facebook describes the circles and the new features as a way for developers to learn about artificial intelligence, internet-connected devices and other topics that the company is interested in. However, some Facebook users who aren’t developers have begun noticing that they are now able to add course units to their groups as well, suggesting the features may be available more widely.
If you’ve had the same Learning Management System since time immemorial, you probably think you’re happy with it. You’ve grown accustomed to its interface, you’ve learned to ignore its flaws and you’re just ‘comfortable’. Besides, think of the upheaval you might have to endure if you made a change. But what if there was something better out there? What if the right Learning Management System is waiting for you, but because you’re so ‘comfortable’, you’ll never find each other? If you take that leap, there could be a happier, more productive future in front of you. Your new LMS won’t just be a place to store your eLearning – it might just be the catalyst that sparks off an organizational transformation! If you really care about the success of your training initiatives, you need to make the difficult decisions. If it’s time to say goodbye to that legacy Learning Management System, here are a few warning signs to look out for.