I’ve usually found that people seeking to leverage opportunities for higher productivity are those who drive the adoption and implementation of new technology and work styles in an organization. Given my experience, I was skeptical when I attended an Innovate! presentation given by unit leaders about their perspective on mobile education. Before they began, it seemed likely I would hear that Ohio State is progressing, but slowly, toward the adoption of mobile technology.
Instead, Jennifer Cowley from the College of Engineering, Tom Gregoire from the College of Social Work, and Sorabh Khandelwal from the College of Medicine detailed an honest and forward-facing assessment of their respective units’ forays into adopting mobile platforms.
I was impressed by the panelists’ candor as they highlighted what worked and what didn’t. For instance, Ohio State’s College of Medicine sought to introduce iPods as a way to replace much of the documentation that medical students need to have on hand. Although this approach was not very successful, presenter Sorabh Khandelwal reported that the College has used this as a learning experience. It intends to roll out using iPads to extend the reach of the medical staff—such as using iChat as another option for communicating with patients.
Presenter Jennifer Cowley noted that Ohio State’s College of Engineering is exploring the possibility of putting all ECE (Electrical and Computer Engineering) coursework on the iPad. Additionally, her College is looking to design apps for the Aviation program that incorporate data from the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration).
Tom Gregoire from the College of Social Work detailed what is perhaps the most profound step toward mobile adoption, his College’s initiative to outfit all its faculty and staff members with iPads (wow!). Session attendees viewed a video clip that chronicled the iPad rollout and training sessions provided to Social Work employees. The video clip included a short interview with Tom, who explained why he chose to outfit the entire staff: “You must get 80% of your people to make the shift, meaning you have to make it important for them.” This only happens if people begin to use the technology as part of their daily lives. Another profound insight shared by Tom was his choice to strike the personal use prohibition from the user agreement, wisely recognizing that by doing so, “[t]he personal and professional lines are completely blurred.”
Each panelist described how leadership staff in their individual Colleges have gotten on board with initiatives that use mobile technology not only to improve classroom but also operational effectiveness. Some other takeaways:
• You must tolerate ambiguity.
• It’s okay to have false starts and failures: you must seed innovation.
• Keep the momentum going, and reward effort.
• “Do more with less” is a failed paradigm; instead, you must “Do different.”
• Transformation is full of tensions. Meet them head-on.
• It’s estimated the global body of knowledge doubles every 35 days.
• Move from information retrieval to collaboration.
Anyone up for implementing mobile technology in your College?