Lynda Campus at UChicago

Right before the break we executed a license of Lynda Campus for the entire UChicago community. We replaced a small set of licenses that had been manually managed in a check-in/check-out scenario … I asked for a license and was told there was a two week wait for one, so we wanted to do something about that.

I’ve been a very strong supporter of providing high quality and accessible learning opportunities through online providers for a very long time. When I was at Penn State and Stony Brook we had campus wide licenses and worked hard to drive adoption and use of the service by all members of our community — primarily students.

While students are a big reason why we moved to a campus-wide license, I am seeing an incredible opportunity for staff to utilize Lynda to stay current, move forward, and develop professional skills. The catalog of courses offered by Lynda continues to expand in very interesting directions. In fact, I believe there are significant opportunities to increase engagement, retention, and save real dollars through the use of eLearning as a supplement to traditional professional development.

Take for example the course I just completed, “Holding Skip Level Meetings.” This course teaches a framework for better managing a skip level meeting … what is a skip level meeting? It is a meeting held with staff at least two levels below you without their direct manager in the room. I do this type of thing informally in my Coffee with Cole sessions and find incredible value in holding them. What I learned from the Lynda course is that I am not maximizing the opportunity and might even be creating unneeded anxiety in my direct reports — clearly not my intention. Going forward I will use lessons I learned in the Lynda course to make the meetings stronger and more comfortable.

I took this course over a series of days on a variety of devices — I watched on my desktop computer, on my iPad, and my iPhone. The total time invested in the course was a little under an hour, but I was able to learn in small chunks of time where I could find them. And I will add that I really did learn some very valuable pieces of information that will change my behavior. I will be challenging us all to take advantage of Lynda in structured ways as we move forward. I even earned a certificate and a badge (that’s a post for another day).

Lynda Certificate

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Maybe it is the Apps

I continue to be amazed at how the iPad Pro is pulling me into the “Post PC Era” that Steve Jobs promised many years ago. Now that I have a Smart Keyboard I can do nearly everything, as a matter of fact I think yesterday may have been the first time since getting the iPad that I took my MacBook Pro to the office … and that was because I knew I had to present at a board meeting. Looking back, I could have easily presented from the iPad with my HDMI adapter.

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Since I’ve gotten it, I have traveled with it, designed with it, written with it, read with it, built presentations with it, worked on far too many Excel spreadsheets with it, and everything in between. I know my use cases are my own and your milage may vary, but it is an exceptionally powerful computing device for the kinds of things I do. This morning I was catching on some reading at Medium (on my iPad) and came across a similar sentiment penned by M.G. Siegler …

In fact, my biggest takeaway (tech-wise) from the trip may have been just how little I used the MacBook. I brought it more or less “just in case” — because, how can you possibly travel for three weeks without an actual computer? Well, turns out you can. Turns out, your tablet and even your phone are computers. And turns out you can almost for sure do everything you need to on those devices.

via Post-Post PC — 500ish Words — Medium.

And that is what I am finding, I just don’t use my laptop all that much. I should say that at this moment I am sitting in front of a traditional computer at home, looking at an old fashioned Safari window on a nice big 27″ monitor. I still do a ton of work on that and my iMac at work, I am finding that I am losing a place in my mobile routine for the MacBook. All of this makes me wonder what our collective computing needs might be in the next two years? If my use is any indication then the ability to work in front of a large display when you are rooted at a desk may stick around, but I am betting as more of what we do while moving will transition to thin panes of glass that have purpose built apps to do the things we do on traditional machines in more efficient ways. As a quick example, think of the difference in speed and ease of using Concur on your computer in the browser versus using it on something like an iPhone or iPad (I don’t have an Android device, but I would imagine it is similar). It is usually a tap or two to approve expense reports on my iPad or iPhone, while it is a long process to log in, navigate, approve, verify, and log out on my Mac. Imagine when more of what we do multiple times daily that grinds 5, 10, 15 minute distractions into our routines become simple taps on purpose built apps — we will be more efficient and more effective. More and more of what I do can be done faster on my iPad Pro and even on my iPhone as more purposefully built apps emerge that support my business workflows. That exact set of scenarios makes me do the same thing each morning, again following what M.G. says …

So this leads me back to my bag of gadgets I carry around on a daily basis. It has always been sort of insane, but now I’m the one who can actually see it. So the past few mornings when I’ve gone to put the MacBook in my bag, I’ve stopped for a second: why do I need this thing again?

What I am wondering is if we focus on apps that can make our business run more efficiently, will our purchasing habits change? Will Universities start putting devices like iPad Pros onto desks of various members of the staff community instead of the traditional Mac or PC? What would the support costs look like on devices that are inherently more secure and are potentially easier to manage through MDM? I believe when we have more use cases like the Concur one I shared, the efficiencies gained will be well worth the transition. But, hey, that’s just like my opinion, man. What’s yours?

UChicago Field Notes

As we quietly roll out the UChicago Voices platform I have been thinking of novel ways to share examples of the platform can be utilized. It is WordPress, so it is obvious to think of it as a blogging platform, but I learned years ago that a blogging platform is best positioned as something more than a blog. It is important to see it through the lens of a “platform for digital expression.” I have been talking about that for years and sometimes you can see people’s eyes light up and sometimes they just shrug their shoulders.

I’ve also learned that it is important to show examples of what I mean when I talk about this concept. With that in mind I decided to put together a simple photo sharing site that allows multiple photographers to share what they are seeing. I decided to call it UChicago Field Notes and invited a couple of people to kick the tires with me — to experiment in a homegrown UChicago photo platform.

There are only three of us, but I would love to add more so if you are interested just let me know in the comments and I will invite you. It is really straight forward — take a picture, log into the Field Notes site, and make a new post. I have to admit, I made it a little easier for myself and cooked up an IFTTT script that takes any of my Instagram photos tagged #fieldnote and auto publishes it to the Field Notes site. I love being surprised by other people’s photos and this is an interesting way to see what a few people find interesting.

UChicago Field Notes

Back to this idea of a blog is more than a blog. I spent time yesterday with colleagues in a our career services group here on campus and shared this one example and it resonated to the point where they are going to try out Voices as a way to expose more of the career opportunities that we provide to students. Students will have access to a multi author site and will record their trips to various companies in various cities. We talked about being able to quickly shoot and share photos, videos, and reflect on the things they are learning on site … all in real time. In that one example we can see a blogging tool as something that is much more than what one might think of as a blog — it becomes a place to share, save, and express yourself digitally. That is a critical skill in the world we live in now. I’ll share more examples of how Voices can be used and as I do I will continue to invite you to do the same.