Leading the Way

Leading in today’s technological world can be challenging, to say the least.  The seemingly insurmountable amount of information available and endless emerging technology advancements can be overwhelming.  Add the ever changing work environment, the challenge of always being connected to work through our cell phones and the shift to individuals using social media to communicate with others and collect information that informs decisions.  The ethical issues that are interwoven into all of the above, so how does a leader deal with all of these challenges?  Perhaps instead of viewing this laundry list of topics as challenges, view these as opportunities to lead.

Over the course of the last eight weeks, numerous important topics have been shared, discussed, contemplated, and debated.  The concepts and topics have revolved around technology in our lives and how as leaders do we ensure that our teams and organizations are doing what we can to wade through the information available and make informed decisions.  In our world today, information is available to an increasing number of people, most often through computers and smart phones.  The ease of the availability can be viewed as a blessing and a curse.  Networked knowledge is more easily accessed by individuals through the internet and more specifically through the use of social media type modalities.  The use of blogs such as this one can be accessed my anyone that has access to the internet.  The challenge can be identifying who has “good” information to share and who does not.  Social media has given each one of us a platform to share our knowledge and our experiences.  It is vital that leaders encourage individuals to seek the knowledge of others through avenues such as this but to continue to dig deeper and ask additional questions.  We want to encourage dialogue to be deeper and not gravitate simply to those with like thoughts but to engage in meaningful dialogue with those that have different views and experiences than that of our own to consider various sides to the problem before making a decision.

As leaders, it is important not only to help others manage information and knowledge but for us to model the behavior.  Big data, data management, and analytics have become popular buzz words.  The use of data to make decisions is expected in our world today.  It is easy to get lost in the amount of data that is available to us.  The vast amount of data can cause paralysis.  Data integrity can be an issue as well.  Similar to the information overload mentioned, knowing if the data we have is accurate can pose challenges.  The concept of networked knowledge, when we combined the data sources, personal experiences and knowledge, with the experience and knowledge of others is the balance leaders should seek.

As leaders, it is crucial that we seek to have an eye on the horizon and consider emerging technologies and how they can best assist us in our mission and meeting the needs of those we serve.  Instead of chasing the latest and greatest constantly, being aware of what is important and doing our best to anticipate the future.  As Kevin Kelly described in his 2016 TED presentation, we need to understand the tendencies and look for patterns.  We need to consider these patterns when making decisions as to what to invest in and what not to.  These types of decisions can also inform us as to changing work environments.

Being cognitive of the ability of the employee to be connected to work nearly all the time and the need for time away from the job is an important consideration.  Leaders need to understand the needs of their employees and how best to balance those needs with the needs of the team and organization.  The flexibility and convenience technology brings can also create struggles of feeling the need to always being “on.”  Setting realistic expectations and living by the expectations are the key.

Finally, the ethical issues with each of the topics I have highlighted this week are linked and underline each of the areas.  Social media can be used as networking knowledge, but as we have all witnessed, it can pose a plethora of issues for organizations and individuals.  The access of personal data available often can cross the ethical lines as well.  The internet has opened the world globally, and conflicting beliefs and ethics can further complicate things for leaders.  Ethical considerations should always be considered by leaders in this ever-changing technological world.

 

Advertisements

Living in a Data Driven World

product-data-management-solidworks-540x355

In Kevin Kelly’s TED presentation (2016), he reminded us that many previous technological advancements were predictable.  That is to say the general concept was predictable; however, the specific technologies that emerge were nearly impossible to predict.  Kelly offered the idea that the creation of mobile phones was predictable but the idea of smartphones and the ways they are used today was not.  As leaders, it is vital for us to be aware of emerging technologies and how they can be best utilized.  Having the latest and greatest is not the objective or the measure of success, but truly utilizing them to maximize the advancement of the organization to the fullest will be the measurement of success.

The advancement of technology has given us a plethora of information and data.  Most of this information and data can be at our fingertips.  David Weinberger (2011) questioned, “if the networking of knowledge is making us smarter or stupider.”  Though somewhat contradictory to my previous week’s blog, the emergence of technology can improve our abilities and move our teams forward; it is capitalizing and harnessing of the power of the technology that is the difference maker.  Kelly (2016) explained why smart cars could benefit us by not driving like a human.  Smart cars are not distracted or emotional.  They can process information more quickly as humans as well.  The distraction comment Kelly made struck me as something worth noting.  When I think about advancements in technology, I think of how very little we do to utilize the technology to its fullest.  Returning to the conversation of Google discussed in recent weeks, Google can be a powerful tool, but it is also easy to be lost and taken down a rabbit hole only to never return to the reason you were using Google in the first place.  I see this being something we, as leaders need to try to help our organizations avoid.

I reflect on my early days in higher education as a freshman admission counselor.  The majority of communication and interaction I conducted with students and families was in person, on the phone (an actual landline in the office or by using a calling card at home), or by mail.  Email was used, but sparingly.  As time went on, the development of cellphones, email, and the internet vastly changed the landscape.  Texting and social media are all now additional ways to communicate with students.  Admission offices followed corporate sales teams’ lead with the creation and implementation of Communication Relationship Management (CRM) systems for the specific use of recruiting student.  A 2014 Hanover Research submission offered market trends and research on the use of technology by institutions of higher education.  Two-year-old research can be considered old by technology advancements standards, but the themes of the research still hold true.  Colleges and universities are looking to data and analytics to drive recruitment.

Schools often pay for services such as retargeting to market to students and use data collected when students visit their website.  Many schools use the data to create personalized PURLS and individualized digital viewbooks.  With each of these different initiatives the need for managing data and using data analytics to drive decisions is becoming a challenge.  Hanover Research (2014) stated, “Getting a better handle of this data is a new area of concentration for colleges and universities.”  Weinberger (2011) presented Amazon as an example of how the effective analyzation of data can lead to meeting the needs of a customer.  He went on to add we need to continue to learn how to evaluate information and knowledge.

aaeaaqaaaaaaaaljaaaajguynmnjmjeylta1mtetndkyos05zdnhltvkyzewyjbmmtmzng

Forbes (2016) offered Gartner’s 16 new technologies, and of the 16, three were focused on data or analytics (Data Broker PaaS, Personal Analytics, and Smart Data Discovery).  Interestingly enough, Wikipedia’s list of emerging technology mentioned very little about new technologies focused on data management.  On the other hand, Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield, & Byers offered a different view.  At the Internet Trends 2016 Code Conference, Mary Meeker mentioned data and data management numerous times, focusing on data-driven business, data collection, data networking, and data leveraging.  In the presentation, data leveraging was described as the “next big wave.”  Looker CEO Frank Bein as quoted by Meeker said, “Data is moving from something you use outside of the workstream to becoming a part of the business app itself.  It’s how the new knowledge worker is actually performing their job.”

Data and data management will need to be a priority for leaders to effectively adapt to the ever-changing and evolving world of technology.  Jobs and duties will continue to change with the emergence of new technologies and industries such as higher education will be no different.  Leaders will need to change existing positions or create new positions to effectively manage and utilize data to drive institutions forward.  Leaders will also need to evolve and adapt as well.  Relying on others to understand big data and analytics will not be enough.  Being a driver of change and the use of data will be a requirement.

 

 

 

 

New Challenges: Ethical Use of Social Media

le-aa377_social_p_20141009164404

According to Statista, there were 2.14 billion social media users in 2015.  They estimate that by 2020, there will be a total of 2.95 billion users.  It seems social media use by individuals is constant.  Some organizations have tried to curtail social media use by blocking employees from accessing social media accounts from company computers.  Unfortunately, many individuals access social media platforms by using their cell phoneForbes (2015) suggested that as a part of the debate of whether or not social media in the workplace is a bad thing, there may be some good aspects such as using social media to improve company communication and brand.  Others suggest social media can end an individual’s career if one is not careful as to what they “like” or post.  CareerBuilder recently reported that 18 percent of employers have reported firing someone due to something the employee posted on social media.  These topics have opened the door for new debates around the topic of ethics and the use of social media.

Terrll Bynum (2015), suggested that the onslaught of computer related ethics is relatively new, becoming a larger topic in the late 1940s.  Bynum commented that the topic and research has grown more prevalent in not only in the United States but globally.  The emergence of social media usage throughout the world leads to a slew of potential ethical debates.  Can differing beliefs and cultures be accepted?  Bynum pointed to the Principle of Freedom as a foundation to computer ethics but how can we agree on ethics when not every culture agrees with the concept of freedom?  How do we align global ethics within the social media world when there is a difference in laws and what is viewed as right and wrong?  With the global use of Facebook, for example, using others contributions, pictures, and music might be considered breaking copyright or infringement laws in the United States but may not be considered breaking the law in other countries.

social

In addition to the challenges of competing ideas of what is ethical globally, Forbes (2011) illustrated five ethical dilemmas companies and organizations need to be aware of in regards to social media usage.  The ethical issues range from paying individuals and organizations to endorse company goods and services to accessing consumer information and perhaps compromising the privacy of the consumer.  The conversations of what personal or consumer information should be considered free game and what should be private have become increasing blurred.  Ethical questions arise from not only what companies should have access to but also what ethically (and perhaps lawfully) they should be able to use.  Each of us leaves a digital footprint when we access various websites and access social media.  It is common for companies to use social media activities to better understand our needs and wants and then market to those needs and wants.  For consumers, in some ways, this can be wonderful.  You might find helpful products or services being offered to you because of your footprint, but the ethical line of your privacy is also in question.  Is it right that anyone could have access to your information?  As mentioned previously, employers have accesses to your information, thoughts, and feelings as well.

The Wall Street Journal (2014) presented interesting perspectives on the employer and employee relationship with social media.  In 2013, a CareerBuilder survey indicated 39 percent of employers utilized search social media pages to research potential candidates.  In the same survey, it was reported 43 percent found something in their social media search that convinced the employer not to pursue the candidate.  Companies and organizations may argue that the information is public and should be used to not only ensure good hiring but also assist in monitoring current employees.  In the Wall Street Journal article, Nancy Flynn commented that monitoring employee’s social media is a necessity.  Flynn stated that is necessary to avoid serious issues such as lawsuits.  She also mentioned that social media submission could be subpoenaed and used as evidence in cases.

The digital media and the social footprint we all leave are nearly unavoidable.  Today, the access to our personal information, thoughts, and feelings are available to nearly anyone that wants to view the information or use it.  If it is available, does it make it ethical to use it?  That is the ongoing debate.  Pew Research reported in 2016, 86 percent of Internet users have taken some steps to try to remove or hide some of their footprints.  A portion of the concern is many of us are not even aware of the extent or depth of the footprint we are leaving and how it could help us, or more importantly hurt us.  With the increasing use of social media, it is difficult to imagine ever being able to turn around and reduce or eliminate our footprints.  And with the continued growth of social media, the ethical discussions and dilemmas will rage on.

Disconnected or Always Connected?

ball-and-chainFor better or for worse, gone are the days when today’s workforce can leave the office (that is if they even still have a physical office) and be disconnected from their work.  As discussed in previous week’s blogs, we are increasing “on” 24/7.  We are connected by our smartphones, tablets, and laptops that we seemly carry around with us no matter where we go.  It is a blessing and a curse in many ways.

As the use of technology in the workplace has increased, so has the need for employees to adapt new skills and technological skills.  The Top Ten Online Colleges released an article outlining the ten most important work skills that will be necessary by 2020.  One of the six drivers of the change mentioned in the article points to the emergence of technology and how it is enhancing and extending individual’s abilities.  Furthermore, technology has given many employees the ability to work from anywhere.  David Weinberger suggested the advancements have created networks that have given individuals the opportunity to contribute meaningfully and eliminated, or at least reduced the hierarchical thinking that ideas only can come from the top.  Weinberger went on to mentioned that this new world also provides challenges as networks and the internet provides a plethora of information, some useful and some not.  The open access of the internet offers employees the opportunity to research and pull ideas.  One of the necessary skills needed by 2020 addressed this challenge by suggesting that sense-making will be a key skill.  Having the ability to analysis the information and have a deep understanding of the vital portion of information will be key.  This skill is especially difficult as the internet is filled with many claiming to be experts.

Harold Jarche (2013) offered the idea that management will not be necessary as networked workers emerge.  Though I do not agree, the point that managers, particularly micro managers, can slow networks is viable.  As I discuss last week in my blog, we must all adapt.  Managers will need to change their approach as well and find ways to cultivate ideas offered by networked workers.  Offering employees the flexibility to complete their jobs in ways other than being in the office 8-5 each day is appreciated and typically an employee expectation.

aaeaaqaaaaaaaaltaaaajduzmgvkownmltqymtutndvkny05ogjllwewnmi3nzuyyjhlnw

As technology continues to evolve and changes our work environment, employers will need to find ways to meet the needs of employees to maximize job satisfaction and retention.  Telework or telecommuting has become increasing popular.  Ann Bednarz offered research both in support of telework as well as information that indicates the negatives associated with the option as she discussed Yahoo’s decision in 2013 to ban telework with the company.  Within the article written by Bednarz, the Telework Research Network argued that overall organizational productivity increases when employees are allowed to telework.  On the other hand, CareerBuilder.com suggests that teleworkers are less productive and have numerous distractions to contend with.  It seems that there are valid arguments on both sides for a host of the issues to consider; however, it seems as though the success of telework or telecommuting depends on both the employee and employer approach.  The use of video conferencing, document sharing, social media, and a host of other technologies have allow telecommuting employees a variety of ways to stay networked.

work-life-balance-2

Rob Stanton, a Major in the United States Army, as quoted by Weinberger (2011) said, “In today’s world, it’s not enough to be able to do the job of the person above you. You have to do 18,000 different jobs.”  The jobs of today are endlessly changing.  The ever-changing world of technology is the main contributor to the evolution positions in the workforce.  Aaron Smith (2014) interviewed a numerous leaders from a variety of industries regarding AI, robotics, and technology and the effects on future jobs.  Though most agree there will be more jobs created than eliminate, the consensus is that some types of jobs will no longer be needed or will be valued less due to technological advancements.  It was mentioned numerous times that it is imperative for the workforce to be trained and educated in such a way that specific skills and knowledge are not the focus, but rather the ability to think critically and creatively as well as have the ability to adapt to evolving situations and environments.

As technology continues to make our lives better by offering of automation to tedious and repetitive tasks, we must not allow technology to get in the way of things that only humans can do.  I believe that meaningful relationship building skills are being damaged by our society’s reliance on technology.  The article I mentioned regarding the work skills needed in 2020 and the article by Smith, each highlighted the importance of social intelligence or the ability to connect in meaningful ways with others.  This is one of the few areas that cannot be replaced by technology.

Adapt or Cease to Exist

In a world that is constantly changing, organizations and their employees must find ways to adapt to the changes, or ideally, be innovative.  Higher Education tends to lag behind other industries, hides behind traditions, and grasps to hold on to the past.  While it may be easy to see some traditions of higher education remain, colleges and universities are finding that lecture halls with a professor professing to the masses are becoming less and less common.  Modalities continue to change as online education, competency-based education, and badges continue to develop and change the landscape of higher education.  Many institutions of higher education will be forced to change or risk being passed by.

David Weinberger’s video described the need to do what we can as leaders to anticipate future needs and do our best to narrow the possibilities.  Using technologies to do so aids in this pursuit.  For quite some time, tuition rates have increased at an alarming rate and students, and families have questioned if the Return on Investment (ROI) is worth it.  Are the astronomical costs associated with attending a 4-year institution really worth it!  Colleges and universities leaders need to be prepared to be innovative and creative in order to find ways to create value and ROI that reflect the costs students and their families are paying.

Leaders need those that can champion ideas of innovation to move new programming and delivery of education forward.  Wirearchy describes ways that leaders can be mindful of how technology can connect networks and individuals and create a culture of sharing information in a meaningful way.  Furthermore, provide an environment based no real-time feedback to assist in adapting to an environment of constant change.

Gartner, Inc. stated that as we move into the future, technology will play the role of leading innovation instead of merely playing a supporting role.  The Gartner article went on to point out that technologies continue to effective products and services organizations offer.  Technology has also changed jobs and how jobs are performed.  Employees need to be prepared to adapt to changes and continuously improve their skills and knowledge around technologies used and evolving.  Dishman (2015) stated that the skills should be “complementary to technology.”

As the demand and opportunities for online education have grown, the need for staff and faculty to evolve and change with it has become necessary.  The long-form writing of books discussed by David Weinberger (2011) and the delivery education in such a fashion is nearly obsolete.  Gartner’s prediction in 2010 of a workplace that has no walls and a 24/7 work week may not come entirely true, yet is more fact than fiction.  In today’s society, we are connected instantly every moment of our lives.  If we are not “on” the impression is we do not care.  Faculty and staff availability expectations are nearing this level of always being on and available.  Those schools that can deliver on this need are those that will thrive.  We can be opposed to this trend like we may be to online education versus face-to-face education, or traditional education versus competency-based education and badges, but reality is, as leaders we need to find ways to adjust to the needs of those we serve.  If we do not adapt, we may cease to exist.

Knowledge isn’t Dead, Just Ask Google!

information-overload-at-work-infographic-600x600-600x380

I have great news to share.  Knowledge is not dead!  I asked Google.  It said it is close to dead.  In Thomas Davenport’s 2015 article, Whatever Happened to Knowledge Management, he commented that Google might be the one to blame.  I do not want to admit how many times today alone, I Googled something.  Why spend time thinking when you can have the answer at your fingers tips?  A colleague recently passed along a YouTube clip, Simon Sinek on Millennials in the Workplace.  Well worth the watch and perhaps I say that because I agreed with so much of what Sinek says.  Nonetheless, technology has made information readily more available in an instant.  Is having information knowledge?  Do we retain the information if we don’t have to work at getting it?

Weinberger (2011) stated that knowledge is made up of our belief in what we think is true.  The issues many of us face today is that there are very few people editing what is on the internet for example.  How do we assist those that we lead in managing what which information is true and what is inaccurate so that the knowledge being built is the right knowledge; knowledge that can benefit the collective good?  Weinberger and Nancy Dixon both echoed the sentiment for the need for diversity in those bringing knowledge to the conversation.  As Weinberger pointed out, we often like the thought of diversity until the diversity brings different points of view.  I fully agree with Weinberger’s comment that we need to have enough in common that those with opposing views will hear one another.  The challenge is finding the right mix.

As I continue to grow in my professional role, I find myself less interested in personally solving a problem and more interested in leading others to work together to solve a problem.  Harold Jarche (2010) commented that we need to do away with traditional management and teach people how to fish for themselves.  If I had to give my team a dollar for every time, I made that comment.  We need to help our employees to think for themselves, to utilize social media and other technologies to build a network of people that will challenge them to think and work together to solve something instead of looking for the quickest answer.  Jarche also stated that knowledge workers need to connect with others in order to solve problems as a group.

Davenport reminded us that some people don’t want additional knowledge and some people don’t want to share it.  As leaders in today’s world, we have an obligation to either change the culture or change the people.  There is not a lot of room for either of these types of people in a successful organization.  We need to surround ourselves and our employees in diverse networks. Weinberger commented, “networks can make us smarter if we want to be smarter” (2011).

 

Yammer Time!

 

futureyammerino365_img2The title of my blog is admittedly hokey, but nonetheless, my hope is that following the completion of reading this you will consider the use of an internal social media tool such as Yammer as you explore ways to communicate effectively with your employees.

26d25e2Effective communication skills are vital for leaders to possess and demonstrate.  The communication between a leader and others should be transparent and encourage dialogue and participationWestman, Bonnet, and McAfee (2014) stated communication must be authentic in nature and be consistent with the vision and mission of the leader and the organization they represent.  The authors of Leading Digital: Turning Technology into Business Transformation, also encouraged the use of an internal social network to describe change, improve process and again, encourage employees to share feedback and ideas openly.  Yammer is one such tool that allows employees and leaders to communicate in a independent space and creates opportunities for collaboration.

I recently accepted a position at a university, leaving behind a place I called home for over 17 years.  I find myself at a new institution with a new team and, I am desperate to find ways of communicating in an efficient manner.  I have a vision of what we can be and what we can accomplish.  In the past, I have been open and shared information freely, and on more than one occasion I have found that perhaps I have shared more than I should have.  In my new role, I have been cautious of what to share and what not to share as I find my way.  However, Weinberger (2011) explained that individuals do not fear having too much information, they are frightened by the thought of not having enough information.  He went on to express that our social networks are the new filters, and our networks are those in which we gather information.  Technologies such as internal social networks are creating new possibilities that can enhance the way we do business, things that were not possible in the recent past (Westerman, Bonnet, & McAfee, 2014).

leaders-words

Yammer is an internal social media platform utilized by 85% of the Fortune 500 companies.  It is currently the leading enterprise social media platform with the purpose of driving organizational collaboration and transformation.  The product launched in 2008 and quickly grew in popularity over the next several years before Microsoft acquired Yammer in 2012.  In 2014, Yammer was incorporated into Office 365 where it resides as an application with the product as an organizational private communication tool.  Microsoft boasts that Yammer works seamlessly with Office enabling users to easily share files and enhancing Office 365 with internal social media capabilities.   Similar to Facebook in look and navigation, the tool allows for groups to be formed and work to shared with the entire organization, groups, or individuals.  There are suggested people and groups to follow as well as the ability to like and share ideas and comments other users have posted.  Yammer offers access from your desktop and laptop as well as through mobile apps.  The accounts are connect to the organization’s email domain.  It is meant for use internally; however, external groups can be created which can be useful when working with customers or in collaboration with partners.

yammer-external-groups-2

There is much to consider when deciding whether or not to implement the use of Yammer.  Advantages and disadvantages may depend on the leader and the organization.  The topics I have identified as items to consider.

Topics

  1. Does it build community or create cliques and silos?
  2. How will the use of the various offices be decided?
  3. Are you prepared to deal with legal issues?
  4. Who on the leadership team will be contributing?
  5. How often will you be prepared to post and respond to others?
  6. How will you respond to other’s suggestions and questions?
  7. Will you incorporate a moderator?
  8. How will you ensure your message is clear and understood as you intended?
  9. How are you going to measure the effectiveness?

Discussion

  1. The intent of Yammer is to create a community of open communication and sharing of work and ideas. Some may be quick to adapt to technologies such as Yammer and some may not.  Be cautious not to isolate those not comfortable with the new tool and be prepared to assist them in learning.
  2. Westman, Bonnet, and McAfee (2014) explained how a company had separate platforms for different departments which created silos. Additionally, the use of groups can be wonderful in building teams but beware of cliques and having the creation of silos.  How will you ensure this does not happen!
  3. It would be wise to include the Human Resource Office in creating adequate and expectations. A message meant for one person can easily be sent to the entire organization, even the less than desirable messages.  What will the organization’s stance be on what is appropriate and what is not?
  4. It may be worthwhile to identify which members of the leadership team will be sending messages and work on having consistency in the message, especially when it comes to vision and mission of the organization.
  5. A consistent presence on Yammer will be important. Simply posting once or once in a great while will minimize the effectiveness of Yammer.  If you are going to use the tool, be prepared to be committed to it to maximize the return.  Implementing Yammer and making sure it is a transformational tool requires the leader of the organization to be one of the driving forces (Westerman, Bonnet, & McAfee, 2014).
  6. Are you prepared to respond early and often to those posting questions and ideas? A quick response time with answers and comments will be expected.  If ideas are going to be shared, those sharing their ideas will expect that at least some of their ideas will be implemented.  If you are not prepared to listen to ideas and implement them, the effectiveness of the tool and the participation of the employees will dwindle.
  7. It might be wise to have someone in the organization monitor the company Yammer account to filter questions to you as the leader or to others so that they can respond. If postings are not appropriate according to the expectations set forth by the Human Resource Office, the comments can be removed promptly.
  8. Make sure that your message is reviewed by others. Is it conveying the message you want?  The written word can be interpreted in different ways by the reader.  There is a risk of someone feeling there is an unintended tone or read into it further than intended.  A clear and concise message is important.
  9. The effectiveness of the tool should be assessed on a regular basis. This can be done through monitoring the activity on the account for example.  Determining the ROI is advised.

Technology and Higher Education – Is it a Flat World?

Several short years ago, the institution I was working for decided to implement a customer relationship management (CRM) tool.  Sales teams in the business world have used CRMs such as ACT! and Salesforce since the 1980s and 1990s but as higher education tends to be a little behind, most colleges and universities were slow to adopt the utilization of CRMs.  Our CRM implementation team introduced the new tool to the admission staff and the faculty that would be using it.  The team excitedly shared the many amazing uses, and how processes would be streamlined, emails automatically sent, and many other tasks, all completed with a touch of a button.  Sheer fear filled the room.  Collectively a question loomed, does this mean some of us are losing our jobs?  Was technology replacing the need for people?

robot-tease-4x3-grid-4x2

Nine jobs humans may lose to robots – NBC News

Nick Bostrom’s discussion on TED titled, What happens when our computers get smarter than we are, speaks to the fears that some have in technology not only potentially replacing the need for humans in the workplace but the prospect of technology spinning out of control.  Bostrom’s discussion self-admittedly reeks of something out of a science fiction film, but in the ever-changing world of technology we live in, it seems believable.  For now, technology mistakes tend to be due to human error and not the error of a computer trying to admit students on their own for example.  As reported by the New York Times in December of 2016, mistakes may be blamed on new software as Tulane University pointed to as the reason 130 new freshman students received congratulatory emails in error.  The truth is, Tulane like many other colleges and universities have in recent years, made human errors with the use of technology.  The fact is, technology has aided higher education far more than it has hurt it.  It has opened doors for institutions and students by expanding reach throughout the globe in recruitment efforts as well as in delivery modalities and learning experiences.

Thomas Friedman describes a world that continues to become increasing more flat in his book; The World is Flat.  Friedman suggested technology, among other things, has created a world that is connected like it has never been before.  At the end of 2015, it was expected that nearly half of the world would have access to the internet.  The forecast for 2017 is there will be 4.77 billion cell phone users in the world.  mobilephilippinesIn 2014, the U.N. reported more people had access to cell phones than they did to toilets.  Cell phones and the internet have made it easier for people to connect and interact.  These types of technology advancements have created greater opportunities for people to advance their education and knowledge regardless of where they are in the world.  My previous institution started with the letter “A, ” and I am willing to bet, it was a significant reason we experienced an increase in international inquiries.  When students went online to research colleges and universities in the United States, the lists are often alphabetical and that put us near the top.

Richard Florida agreed with some of what Friedman offered, but in the article The World is Spiky, Florida offered the idea that globalization, including technology, did not make the world flat but rather the most advanced and thriving areas of the world were concentrated in large urban areas.  While the world of online programs and free online courses such as Coursera, Khan Academy, and EdX have opened the world of education to people all over the world, the schools that have potentially benefited the greatest are those that are near large urban areas.  The alphabet undoubtedly helped, however; the fact that my university happened to be in the second largest city in Illinois and located 40 miles from Chicago may have played as big of a role.  Students want the opportunities both socially and professionally that large urban areas provide.  It is not a coincidence that you can find dozens of colleges and universities in and around urban areas.  I would argue that Friedman’s idea that the world is flat in not accurate.  Rather the world is flatter than it was and is becoming more so as technology continues to advance.