Thoughts on Michael Nielsen’s “Reinventing Discovery”

Last week’s New Media Faculty Seminar reading was “Reinventing Discovery” [Chapter 1 in Michael Nielsen’s Reinventing Discovery: The New Era of Networked Science. Information on the book may be found here

The notion of using online tools for collaboration is not a new one. Employees in many organizations use collaborative tools as part of formal or informal knowledge discovery/knowledge sharing activities.

Knowledge management at Buckman Laboratories is perhaps the best-documented. Information on their efforts which date back to the 1980s may be found here,, as well as on their own Knowledge Nurture site

Another well-documented case goes back to 1997: “KMPG Peat Marwick U.S.: One Giant Brain”. It is Harvard Business School case 397108-PDF-ENG; a brief description is found here

What is critical is employee buy-in and organization strategies to support the effort. What Peat Marwick found is that a reward system based on individual performance was at odds with knowledge sharing. Similarly, the strategy at Buckman is “we should use our systems for communication to share our tacit and explicit knowledge as widely as possible so that no individual will stand alone in the face of competition, but will always have the full global force of the company behind them.” [].

What Nielsen is proposing is collaboration across all boundaries. What about intellectual property?

April 22, 2012 at 7:42 pm Leave a comment

Thoughts on ECAR “National Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology 2011”

This week’s reading for our New Media Faculty Seminar is the ECAR “National Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology 2011” found at

The several College of Business faculty who are working on a Technology Initiatives Task Force met this week. What is interesting is how we think we might help our colleagues become more effective users of instructional technology coincides with several of the recommendations in the ECAR study.

For example, Recommendation 1 is to “Investigate your students’ technology needs and preferences and create an  action plan to better integrate technology into courses and help students access institutional and academic information from their many and diverse devices and platforms.” Our NMFS and Technology Initiatives Task Force has the same approach to help our faculty: we need to ask them how they want to use technology in their courses.

Recommendation 2 is to provide professional development opportunities for faculty. We are planning brown bag lunches and/or seminars, early evening workshops followed by dinner, and an ongoing Desire2Learn course for all faculty and staff.

Recommendation 6 is to nail the basics: “Help faculty and administrators excel at supporting students’ use of core productivity software and applications for academic use, including, e-mail, word processing, spreadsheets, content or learning management systems, library sites, and bibliography tools.” Exactly what we said; we want to help our colleagues comfortable with these tools so they can make their students comfortable as well.

Regarding Recommendation 10 on moving “strategically toward blended/hybrid learning environments to meet students’ preferred styles of learning.”, here, too, we want to encourage our colleagues’ use of technology to engage students between face-to-face meetings.

April 22, 2012 at 7:19 pm Leave a comment

Encouraging use of new technologies among business faculty

One of the outcomes of the March 5 brown bag seminar “The Reluctant Technologist” was the idea for a Technology Initiatives Task Force within the College of Business at Benedictine University.

A few of the issues identified at the seminar as obstacles to faculty adoption of new technologies were time, trust, teaching, and training. To clarify some of the issues: Time…who has extra time to explore something new, with no guarantee of success? Trust…what about the faculty member who tries something new and does not meet with success? Teaching…how does a faculty member identify a new technology or a new application appropriate to his/her discipline? Training…just-in-time and directly applicable to a course.

The objective of the task force would be to address these. We have done a bit of brainstorming and hope to organize our thoughts in the next couple of weeks. We would like to kick off our work with a brown bag lunch during April or May in which we would like to pose these questions to interested faculty:

  • What kind of help would you like from us?
  • Should we help with instructional technology, social media, and/or Office software?

We have identified at least two strategies:

  • Technology tips of the week to include something of general interest, something related to instructional technology, and something related to the use of social media.
  • Periodic brown-bag seminars where we might do some show-and-tell and/or have a question-and-answer session.

April 1, 2012 at 4:20 pm 1 comment

Thoughts on “The Epic Win” in Cathy Davidson’s Now You See It

Cathy Davidson discusses the use of games in Chapter 5 “The Epic Win” of her Now You See It.

As readers may already be aware, I am director of a master’s degree program in management information systems at Benedictine University.  The capstone MBA course, MBA671, Strategic Management, includes a large-scale business simulation game, where teams of our students compete against thousands of teams across the globe. In the last few years, M.S. in Management and Organizational Behavior students have participated along with MBA students. Beginning with Fall 2012, my M.S in Management Information Systems, students will also participate.

Some years ago, this capstone course was shared among several programs: MBA, M.S. in MOB, and M.S. in MIS. We did not have an integrating experience like the business simulation and, eventually, MOB and MIS Programs went back to offering their own capstone courses. The business simulation has made us reconsider. Why not include information technology and management students along with business administration students in teams running a company? The benefits to all students should be significant; different groups of students bring different talents to the experience. How should these different talents be leveraged to make their virtual company more successful than other students’ companies?

April 1, 2012 at 3:51 pm Leave a comment

Thoughts on “How We Measure” in Cathy Davidson’s Now You See It

In the last few years, I have considered asking students in our M.S. in Management Information Systems program to construct an electronic portfolio. I have thought this would be valuable for our students; they would have a way to organize what they have done in all their courses and would reflect upon their work. Chapter 4 “How We Measure” in Cathy Davidson’s Now You See It gives me some support. Why not have a way to present accomplishments to current or future employers? Why not have a way to understand what a student has accomplished?

April 1, 2012 at 3:29 pm Leave a comment

Thoughts on “Project Classroom Makeover” in Cathy Davidson’s Now You See It

Given this upper respiratory infection that is lingering too long, I am a bit behind in our consideration of Cathy Davidson’s Now You See It.

I have a different perspective than most of my colleagues in the New Media Faculty Seminar in that I teach in a graduate professional program–the M.S in Management Information Systems, not in one of the traditional undergraduate disciplines. Our students are primarily working adults; some are looking to move into information technology and others are looking to move up within information technology. They are focused on specific content and specific skills.

Does this mean that Davidson’s Chapter 3 “Project Classroom Makeover” does not apply? I believe that it can apply.

As an example, one of the assignments in the MIS545, Computer Organization & Architecture, course is a technology project. The idea is to explore a topic in information technology, be it hardware- or software-related. The paper is to be submitted to me via a course management system dropbox. What I should have considered is, why not make the technology project be an amended Wikipedia entry? The most valuable piece is that students “could contribute to public discourse” (Davidson, p.100).

The second example is the second major deliverable in this course: the systems project. The idea here is to describe and evaluate a business system. There is a checklist for the hardware and software, but the important objective is to evaluate its effectiveness by talking with those who use the system. Perhaps sharing the results with these people would be beneficial for students and for those who were interviewed. Again, students could contribute to public discourse.

A third example is the course project in another of my courses, MIS689, Strategic Information Technology Management, our capstone course. The objective of the course project is to take everything a student has learned in the program and apply it by developing and/or evaluating an organization’s technology plan.  Why not share results with the company?

April 1, 2012 at 3:13 pm Leave a comment

‘Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority, and Laggards’ or ‘Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants’?

In my previous post, I used the terms innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. These are psychographic profiles that have been used for over five decades; these profiles were originally developed to characterize the purchase patterns of hybrid seed corn. These profiles are routinely used in information technology as part of the technology adoption lifecycle.

More recently, the terms ‘digital immigrant’ and ‘digital native’ have been used to describe different sets of computer users. Marc Prensky discusses these at length in his 2001 On the Horizon article titled “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants”.

Do these two sets of terms really describe the same phenomenon? Are digital natives the innovators and early adopters and are digital immigrants the early majority, late majority, and laggards? Is there some other difference being described? I prefer a behavioral distinction rather than a distinction based on birth year.

February 26, 2012 at 4:55 pm Leave a comment

Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority, or Laggards?

Last week’s open discussion at our NMFS was on “The Reluctant Technologist” [February 20, 2012]. Each of us offered an example of someone who was a user of technology, but did so reluctantly.

In my position was director of an M.S. program in management information systems, our students  are not reluctant technologists, but rather those who are innovators, early adopters, or in the early majority.

However, I have had students in our MBA course titled “Information Technology Management” who are reluctant technologists. They come from professions as different as healthcare and the auto industry. These are professionals who understand the potential of information technology, but who do not know how to navigate all the decisions involved in IT adoption. The physician understands the need for electronic health records and wants to know how to make a good decision. The owner of a successful auto dealership understands the need for integrated systems and wants to know how to make a god decision.

Perhaps these students are not so different from our academic colleagues who are reluctant users of technology. We may all understand the potential of information technology. Some of us may be eager to identify new technologies [innovators], participate in pilot tests [early adopters], or adopt them early [early majority]. Others of us may wait to see what colleagues’ experiences may be [late majority] or may adopt a technology only after it is well established [laggards].

We identified several important questions:

  • Can we help colleagues adopt technologies earlier by providing training and support that is tailored to his/her discipline?
  • Is the difference in IT adoption based on age?
  • How do we know that a particular technology will have a positive impact on student learning?

February 26, 2012 at 4:47 pm Leave a comment

Thoughts on “The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet” and “Meet the Connected Consumer”

Here are musings on “The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet” by Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff, which appeared in Wired September 2010 and here, as well as “Meet the Connected Consumer: How Tablets, Smartphones and Facebook are Changing the Way Consumers Shop Across Retail Categories”, a zmags-sponsored consumer survey which appeared in January 2012 and was summarized here.

As it turns out, I teach “Electronic Commerce” during Winter Quarter, so the readings are timely. We spent some time during our last session discussing what has made e-commerce not only possible, but spectacularly successful: the platform neutrality of the Web. Any website is accessible. Any computer—desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone—with a browser can reach any website. Any site can compete for visitors, subscribers, and customers by being searchable.

The app-driven future that Anderson and Wolff describe is one where the custom app maximizes the user experience. While the underlying platform—the Internet and TCP/IP—is different, the custom app seems to be a throwback to a mid-1980s client/server architecture approach. Client-side software was required to run any application package. Updates, not unlike new app releases, were required periodically. Also, not unlike new app releases, bugs in new releases would make the application unstable or changes in one software application could affect other applications.

I do not disagree that apps are useful. Apps do not interact with each other. I see apps as useful appliances.  A set of apps is a set of silos. The benefit is still in platform neutrality.

“Meet the Connected Consumer” does not try to predict the future, but describes consumer trends. PCs and laptops are used most heavily for browsing, researching, and purchasing across all categories and by a large margin. Even in tablets, browser-based shopping is preferred over app-based shopping.

The zmags survey suggests that retailers pay attention to Facebook-connected consumers. I do not disagree. With 845MM active users, Facebook is a retailer’s gateway to connected consumers. Over three-fourths of connected consumers are active Facebook users and at least 40 percent follow their favorite brands on Facebook. Tablet owners seem to favor shopping via Facebook pages.

A few key points that I will highlight at our next class session:

  • The smaller the device, the more appropriate for an app [smaller screen size, better use of resources]
  • E-commerce and all websites
    • must engage visitors, subscribers, and customers across a variety of platforms: desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone
    • must continue to watch how different categories of users, for example, simplifiers, surfers, bargainers, connectors, routiners, and sportsters may change their behavior and device of choice
    • must continue to explore different technologies

What do you think? Am I missing something? Please comment.

February 12, 2012 at 7:40 pm Leave a comment

Thoughts on the New Media Faculty Seminar at Benedictine University

What will be included on this blog are thoughts and comments on a number of readings. I am participating in the New Media Faculty Seminar at Benedictine University.

Our intent is “greater understanding of the cross-disciplinary foundation from which these tools were created, why social media came about, and becom[ing] comfortable using these tools to help you meet your own learning and research goals” as noted here.


Please comment.

February 12, 2012 at 7:36 pm 1 comment


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