Launching Mobile/Digital Now

The time has come. On Monday we will roll out our first systematic piece of the Mobile/Digital Now initiative at Stony Brook University. This is the first of two iPad planned rollouts we have in place for the start of the 2015 academic year, the next will be announced in a couple of weeks. Below is the text from the media briefing for Monday’s event …

On Monday, July 6, Stony Brook University’s Mobile/Digital Now initiative will equip 185 EOP/AIM (Educational Opportunity Program/Advancement on Individual Merit) freshmen with iPads as they begin their four-year journey at the University’s Summer Academy. These iPads reinforce the University’s commitment to providing access to academic excellence for these freshmen. The Mobile/Digital Now initiative, led by Stony Brook Chief Information Officer, Cole Camplese, will help transform and reinvent learning environments and enhance access to anytime, anywhere learning resources.

The Mobile/Digital Now initiative is also set to expand to support Stony Brook faculty in the appropriate utilization of technology to enhance teaching; will control costs of learning materials for students through eTexts; increase access of critical courses to enhance both retention and four-year graduation rates and equip the University community with the latest mobile devices that will aid in future academic success.

The EOP/AIM Program provides educationally-related supportive services and supplemental financial assistance to those students whose educational and economic circumstances have limited their post-secondary educational opportunities. These iPads are distributed for students to use throughout their four-year undergraduate careers.

There are so many reasons to be excited about this project. The first is getting to work with colleagues from EOP/AIM to help build an even stronger program. Another lies in getting to work closely with the students themselves. As part of the project I will be personally running a steering group made up of students in the program so I can maintain a finger on the pulse of the initiative and work with them to make it stronger. Finally, working with my DoIT colleagues to make this a reality has been inspiring! In a very short period of time we have worked to deliver the iPads under mobile device management tools, increased wireless density in key areas, and built new support modalities for our audiences. Really exciting stuff.

The students will get their iPads and cases still shrink wrapped in the boxes. They will get to open them, turn them on, and have a fully functional iPad with both Stony Brook and commercial apps auto installed as well as access to additional academic content. All of these will be pushed directly to the devices as they activate them — even their University email will be auto setup. I can’t wait to see it all unfold. Below are screenshots of what they will see as their devices activate. Great work everyone!

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Vía Cole W. Camplese http://ift.tt/1C6y9UV

Keynote: AIKCU, Somerset, Kentucky on June 12, 2015

I was invited to keynote the annual Association of Independent Kentucky University Technology Conference. It was my first time visiting this part of the Commonwealth of Kentucky and was really excited to see so many eager participants all thinking about a very broad selection of topics. In addition to the keynote session, I held a separate break out that was really just an extended question and answer session. We talked quite a bit about preparing our campuses in a systematic way for the changes hitting us all — mobility, finding challenges, faculty development needs, student expectations and so much more. Truly a great time.

Thoughts on Teaching #CDT450

I promised myself I’d write. I did, but just not enough … at least not here. I wrote and posted a lot over at the course site for CDT450: Disruptive Technologies, but that isn’t the kind of writing I planned to do along side the course in a more reflective mode. I think I only did that twice.

I want to try and capture my thoughts on the experience before it becomes even harder to grasp — in short it was an exceptional semester, with an exceptional group of students, that taught me an exceptional amount about how to be a better human, teacher, colleague, and leader. I say that without hesitation. I told my wife last night that in many ways teaching this semester made me much better at my job (that is a self reflection based on only my own data). If I unpack that thought a bit I would say that having to juggle the rigor of my day job with preparing a three hour class each week for 15 weeks pushed me in so many different ways. I had to find ways to say no to some things more effectively so I could focus on the most critical things happening around me. I had to learn new approaches to learning content to teach to brilliant and very challenging students — I’ve not taught alone since maybe 2005, so carrying this load by myself was simply the biggest challenge of the semester. I had to figure out how to take on a presidential project with potentially huge implications to the campus under very tight time constraints while still managing to run DoIT, meet the expectations of my vice presidential role, and craft an engaging learning experience. To say that I grew by leaps and bounds along with my students this semester would be an utter understatement.

The course, as I’ve shared before, is framed around three primary themes — community, identity, and design. This was based on the experiences I had co-teaching this course with my long time friend and colleague, Dr. Scott McDonald at Penn State. Going it alone made me rethink a lot of it as we were always able to lean on each others strengths, so this was a very different course in many ways. I won’t go into details, as it would be easy to track our week by week progression by again visiting the course site. I will say this, there were so many unexpected surprises along the way that I thought I would list the ones that stood out the most.

Week One

The first day of a college class is usually a very basic thing — hand out the syllabus, review the course outline, get to know the professor, and do some basic introductions. Not in this week one! Sure we did the basics, but after listening to an episode of the podcast, Reply All the day before class I redesigned what we would do the night before. The episode called, “The Writing on the Wall” is described by the show’s creators the following way, “Yik Yak is an app that allows users to communicate anonymously with anyone within a 10-mile radius. At Colgate University in upstate New York, the anonymity brought out a particularly vicious strain of racism that shook the school.” What that episode so magically (and tragically) did was mash all three of our themes into a very relevant and difficult story. While it effectively brought community, identity, and design into focus — all while introducing the concept of disruptive technologies — it also created the surprising undertone of “race” as an ongoing theme to be continually revisited. Class was over at 6 … we all headed out after 6:40.

Oh, and they got iPads that they had to write about.

Week Five

This was the first Synthesis week, where they got to take over the class and lead the discussion. I purposefully gave them very little instruction so they could be as creative in their overview of our first theme, community. There were only two teams, but the way they crafted their respective synthesis was truly quite amazing. The two teams unintentionally played off each other during their time creating a whole that was most certainly greater than its parts. We noted a theme emerge — we never end at 6.

I asked at the end of class if we had turned into a community … the quick first response from a student, “we did today.”

Week 6

This is the week we moved onto our second theme identity. I asked them to create videos with their iPads and post them to the course blog … some of them were quite amazing. This was a week that we ourselves were disrupted by a snow day as classes were cancelled. That didn’t stop us. Google Hangout to the rescue — can you believe all of the students showed up for this voluntary snow day virtual class. There is a lesson in this for campus — if the network is running, classes (in some shape or form) can go on.

Week 9

As we worked our way through the identity theme another spike in our conversations about race emerged. This time brought on by the Martese Johnson beating at UVA. During that week I posted a link to an interesting site designed and published by students at UVA that one of my students reacted to in their own blog post that I shared with my community on Facebook. Things got crazy from there …

Two Penn State colleagues joined class that day. One, Sam Richards, via Hangout as his 750 student Race Relations class filed into Thomas 100 on the PSU campus to talk about race in America. The other, Curt Marshall who drove from State College, PA to Stony Brook, NY to join class face to face. What an experience for the students. Sam is known to be one of America’s 101 most dangerous academics and a great instigator and communicator. Curt is the Multicultural Affairs and Recruitment Director for the Penn State College of Arts and Architecture and is one of the brightest and most articulate people I know. It was a humbling day and one that I don’t think any of us will forget.

Week 12

By this time we were fully engaged with our final theme, design. The students were working through their Design Challenge creations via the Human Centered Design approach we utilized. They were envisioning an app for the iPad that didn’t exist that was focused on improving the student experience. An evening or two before class I noticed that Stony Brook Alumni Association had highlighted a recent alum who was now an app developer, so I took the chance and sent him a direct message introducing him to our class. He got back to me a little bit later after reading the class blog and decided he would come to class and talk to the students about app design first hand. It was a killer experience for us all … I think Eric really enjoyed it. I wonder if he realizes how much he inspired the students that day?

Weeks 13-15

The last three weeks of class were so brilliant I can’t single any one out. We did paper prototyping to bring app ideas to life, shared so many incredibly insightful ideas, wrote some amazing reflections, read some killer articles, and I got to watch as the two teams put a bow on the entire semester with two unbelievable final synthesis presentations. They brought the three themes together through the lenses of technology, the iPad as a positive disruptive force in higher education, and emerged on the other side as a group that is much more critically tuned to the potential affordances of the technologies we typically take for granted every single day. Their final reflections were amazing and I can’t tell you what a profound experience teaching at Stony Brook was for me in the Spring of 2015. Two pull quotes from final student reflections touched me deeply …

I can say that this has been one of the most remarkable class experiences I’ve had and I am very sad to see it coming to an end.

I’m actually a lot sadder to be writing this post than I expected to be. This class is hands down the most memorable and stimulating class that I have ever taken.

I felt the same way.

Information Security Basics

Earlier today The Pennsylvania State University announced a sophisticated series of attacks to the network within its College of Engineering. It is a disturbing occurrence on so many levels — primarily from the fact that this has become the new normal for us in Higher Education. Notice I didn’t just say Higher Education IT — this is an issue that belongs to all of us. Our networks and the access they provide is the critical life blood to accessing the knowledge and colleagues that empower us to teach, learn, make discoveries, and connect with the world. A good friend of mine once told me, “when we lose our connection to the Internet we cease being a research institution.”

If you want to know what keeps CIOs up at night the list starts with information security challenges. To that end, I want to make this as clear as possible … it is time we all make information security a priority in our work. While we are committed to a strong IS stance, we can do things that are low hanging fruit here at SBU — strong pass phrases instead of weak passwords, changing pass phrases on a regular basis, don’t leave your work station logged in when you walk away, update your operating system when prompted, question links in emails, keep virus protection software up to date, and in all the instances when you are unsure of the legitimacy or threat ask a colleague who might have an answer.

It constantly amazes me at how much doing just those things systematically can positively influence our overall security stance. I am asking for your help and your cooperation to take personal responsibility for assisting the campus and to make it a conversation about all of us and not one about information security against us.

From PSU President Barron in a message to the community …

“In the coming months, significant changes in IT security protocols will be rolled out across the University, and all of us as Penn Staters will need to change the way we operate in the face of these new and significant challenges. University leaders are developing a detailed plan that will include even more robust monitoring for malicious activity across Penn State. Over time, individual users also will see changes including the implementation two-factor authentication on major university systems, stronger password management practices, and enhancements to system and software administration.”

Learning Spaces at SBU

A few weeks ago, Stony Brook student Cam Boon stopped by my office to do this interview. I quite enjoyed his reporting on the current and future of learning spaces at Stony Brook. I could sit down and talk space design all day … it is one of my favorite topics.


Snow Day Disruption

I’ve just about had it with snow … no, check that — I have had it! Thursdays are the days that I get to teach and I really love it. I’ve been sick all week and when I woke up around 4 this morning I knew I wasn’t going to be able to get through the day, regardless of the snow. I rescheduled my morning meetings and planned on resting until class time. When we cancelled classes later in the morning I figured it was a lost week.


What is disappointing is that last week we had such an amazing class as the groups did their first round of synthesis presentations, focusing on the ideas of disruptive technologies seen through the lens of our first theme of community. Truly an exceptional experience and one that pulled the class together into the early stages of our own community of practice.


So when the snow and my health threatened to cancel class we took matters into our own hands and disrupted the snow day by using Google Hangout to do a check in and a preview of the next couple of weeks. It wasn’t perfect, but it was certainly better than not having any time together at all. We did have a few moments of meaningful discussion about Library space, McLuhan, and how technology like Hangouts can be a decent tool for connecting communities.

hangout