Ryan Tomayko at GitHub offers "Your team should work like an open source project." He continues:

The processes and basic rules for communication on projects are roughly the same as those of an open source project. Mainly, that development and operations follows these constraints where sensible:

  • Electronic: Discussion, planning, and operations process should use a high fidelity form of electronic communication like email,, or chat with transcripts wherever possible. Avoid meatspace discussion and meetings.

  • Available: Work should be visible and expose process. Work should have a URL. It should be possible to move backward from a piece of product or a system failure and understand how it came to be that way. Prefer git, issues, pull requests, mailing lists, and chat with transcripts over URL-less mediums.

  • Asynchronous: Almost no part of the product development process requires that one person interrupt another's immediate attention or that people be in the same place at the same time, or even that people be in different places at the same time. Even small meetings or short phone calls can wreck flow so consider laying it out in (a thought out) email or sending a pull request instead.

  • Lock free: Avoid synchronization / lock points when designing process. This is DVCS writ large. We don't have a development manager that grants commit bit to repositories before you can do work, or a release manager that approves deploys, or a product manager that approves work on experimental product ideas. Work toward a goal should never be blocked on approval. Push approval/rejection to the review stage or automate it, but surface work early to get feedback.

Full article here...

Invitation to Inaugural Meeting of the New England New York Blackboard User Group (NENY)

  • Are you interested in becoming part of a community that can help you / your institution in the effective use of Blackboard learning platforms?
  • Are you an enthusiastic academic staff member? eLearning Support staff? Or Technical Staff?
  • Are you interested in ‘not reinventing the wheel’?

If so, please join the New England New York Blackboard Users Group at the Blackboard World Conference in New Orleans, LA on Thursday, July 12th from 2:50pm – 3:45pm in Room 283 of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.  If you are not attending Bb World and wish to participate via conference line, please dial the following number 1-866-290-9533 and then enter the conference code: 9634121394 on the day of the event.

We ask that you fill out the survey linked below so that we can gather information on how best to mold the NENY BUG to best meet everyone’s needs.

Our Mission
The mission of the New England/New York Blackboard User Group (NENY), is to facilitate communication among educational institutions within the New England/New York regions which use Blackboard Inc. products and services to support their teaching and learning needs. Through communication, collaboration, and innovation, User Group Members will share knowledge, promote and develop best practices, and form a common voice to Blackboard, Inc.

Founding Members
Members from the Colleges of the Fenway, Connecticut Distance Learning Consortium, Massachusetts Colleges Online, UMassOnline, University of Maine System

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact any one of us:

Kevin Corcoran
Stefanie Henderson
Andrea Milligan
Robin Robinson

We hope to see you there!

The usage of Confluence at UMassOnline, as well as several other world class universities such as Harvard and MIT has greatly increased the communication and dare I say...collaboration of several departments, leading to a much faster pace of development and deployment of new ideas and technologies. By using a tool like Confluence, we are able to create, edit, save and share ideas. People find out about things much faster, and everyone is welcomed to participate. 

At Harvard, for example, if you watch the following video (presented at Atlassian Summit 2012), you can hear Carter Snowden, the Senior Web Application Developer, talk about the reasoning behind deploying Confluence, and how each class that is offered there has the opportunity to use a Confluence wiki space in their homegrown LMS, iSites: 











At MIT, Confluence is referred to as Hermes. The team at MIT has presented at several NERCOMP events throughout the years preaching the word of collaboration. In this presentation, aptly titled "If you build it, will they come?" there is much discussion around the buidlout of the MIT knowledegbase and how they rolled out Confluence to their users. 


"IT support providers and end users both want similar things: fast and easy access to up-to-date IT information and solutions. Why not contribute to and share the same IT knowledge resource? At MIT, we did just that. In 2008 a project was launched to broaden an existing Help Desk internal knowledge base to an Institute-wide IT help system, integrating contributions from IT support organizations around MIT and providing role-based access control. A year into the new shared environment provides us with success stories, lessons learned and excitement about making this valuable resource even better."















UMassOnline has also presented about using Confluence at NERCOMP 2012 as well as MCO 2012. 









At Tufts University, Confluence is used for many things; as a teaching and learning toolgeographic information servicesgraduate student council, the list goes on and on.

At John Hopkins University, their adoption of Confluence was recently discussed in this case study provided by Atlassian.

UMass Amherst uses Confluence (locked down internally to their institution - OIT).

There are several other institutions and industry peers. See this page for more information: Who Uses Confluence?. For a larger list, click here.


So based on the information above, I think we are better because we "Save, Edit Share, not Meet, Talk, Forget". If you ever require any support while using Confluence, you can submit an issue, or email the administrators

Digital Distractions

An interesting article, "10 IT Skills that Today's High School Kids Have - Do You?" by Randy Muller offers some of the technologies and tools high schoolers are comfortable with. Some of these seem typical, like blogging, Facebook, Linux, gaming, and texting, but others like tech support, programming and hardware would seem to require more sophistication than what we normally ascribe to our kids' skill set. I think the article hits the nail on the head in it's conclusion"

What is surprising here is not that High School students are IT savvy, but to what extent and breadth their knowledge extends. It is remarkable seeing how quickly a teenager can figure out the inner workings of a smartphone while the adult fumbles learning just how to turn the phone on in the first place.

I think the reason high school students can "figure out the inner workings of a smartphone while the adult fumbles" is because they are not hindered by the context of the device, in this case a phone. One who grew up with a phone, mounted on the wall in the kitchen, is hindered by the context — the purpose for which the devise was introduced — of that object. That kitchen phone could not take pictures, send messages in multiple formats (I guess I could use the touch-tone to send Morse code), reference other devices (having Dad get on the other line when I called home from college was about it), so why would the "phone" in my hand do these things? Because I lack any expectations for this functionality, finding it in context is challenging.

I often give, as an example of this, a conversation I had with my mother, who worked in retail throughout her career. In this discussion, I put together a scenario where my mom overhears a conversation where a shopper is talking socially with her friend, while interjecting that she cannot find something she saw in an add that was on sale: "Oh, yes our vacation was great," says the shopper, "it's so nice to have all of the family together and forget about work for a while. Now where are those shirts that I saw on sale?"

Upon overhearing the question about the sale item, you look up to see, two shoppers walking down the isle chatting as they search for search. I asked my mother, would you walk up and ask if the shoppers needed some assistance (interrupting their conversation)? My mother said, of course.

I then asked my mom, what about if, when you looked up, you saw one shopper talking on his/her cell phone. Would you walk up and ask if he/she needed help (again interrupting the conversation)? My mom said, no "they are on the phone."

This is remarkable to me, and I think, highlights how my mom carries with her the context of that kitchen phone. First, in my mom's perception, the phone is a limited resource. That is, the phone (even if "cordless") is in a fixed location requiring both parties to "get to the phone" at the same time. How often throughout the day can we synchronize our busy lives to be at the phone (that's why answering machines became so popular, BTW, why do we still need those?)? I can very well imagine my mom, not wanting to interrupt because, well they finally "got a hold of each other" and they have "better things to do rather than sit by the phone all day waiting for a call."

Second, a call — especially long distance — is expensive. When I made that call home from college my mom would always remind my dad that "Patrick's calling long-distance." Obviously we needed to keep the call short and conversations direct or face a high monthly phone bill. In addition to concerns about cost, when cell phones came out they were very expensive to buy and use. It was OK for my wife to have one (she is a critical care physician), but not for regular people — "oh, who needs to call you in an emergency?" my mom would ask. Again, I see the rationale for current perceptions on cell phone use tied to a legacy context: associating the cell phone (for emergency communication) with pagers (remember those) or radios (walkie-talkies, not AM/FM radios — another legacy context here too). If she didn't need a walkie-talkie, why would my mom need a cell phone? Obviously, the shopper is on an emergency call, if he/she is using a cell phone.

However neither of these issues are relevant anymore. Carrying a phone with you all of the time, means you (and everyone) is always "sitting next to the phone all day," for good or bad. Indeed, having my phone with me means I have all of my contacts with me all the time: I'm essentially walking down the isle of the store with all of my friends next to me. It is no more a barrier to contact someone through the phone than it is to look over and start talking to them in the isle of a store. Everyone I know is with me all of the time. As far as cost, well I do not know of anyone who pays for long distance — either at home or through their cell provider (anytime/anywhere minutes). And even if you have cost considerations, there are plenty of telephony options available.

However, I should not simply pick on my mom, I've seen plenty of other examples where legacy services and systems contextualize current technologies and their application (administration):

  • Faculty on campuses-wide wireless and with laptop initiatives who do not want students using their computers in the class because of the distractions.
  • Campuses who have spent considerably on emergency notification systems that send out alerts via cell, SMS, IM, and email, but want students to turn off their smart phones while in class.
  • Campuses writing policies for every new technologies, first laptops, then smart phones and now tablets (well iPads).

Meanwhile the Today show is warning parents of "digital distractions," caused by multi-media, gaming and social networking: "Kids can become addicted to these things, kids can get into trouble, kids can be made very anxious." Smartphones and the Internet, "changes the way they kids interact with people," continues one of the Today Show's guests. I agree with this last line, these tools do change the way people interact. But like the examples above, we cannot apply our previous use (and understanding) of legacy technologies to today's lifestyle. I really see no difference in watching a sports show (GO BRUINS!) on t.v. with my friends on the coach, and watching the same game while IMing/texting/tweeting with those same friends scattered across the U.S. In fact, I'll go one better, while at game six of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Garden (jealous?) I was texting and IMing with friends. I was gloating that I was there and they were not; I was sending pictures of Roberto Luongo on the bench after he was pulled, and; I was debating the plays and penalties. While I can clearly hear my mother bemoaning me should she have seen me on t.v. during the game, "Oh look at Patrick on his phone during the game! Why would he buy those tickets if his just going to stare at that stupid phone and miss the game!" However I would argue, all of this added to my enjoyment of the game. My phone, twitter, texts, IM's and photos did not detract from the game, they enhanced the game. Through social media and the tools that enable it, I was able to attend the game with at least 20 of my friends, and I would even say their experience with the game was enhanced as well.

Agile Jumps the Shark?

In a recent blog post, Johanna Rothman offers, "The word agile has clearly crossed the chasm. And, with all the emphasis on certification, that word is only going to become more resume-valuable with time. And that’s a damn shame." Rothman suggests many of those who might identify their workplace and development as "agile" may not really appreciate what that means. Rotham is stressing the benefits of practicing agile, "emphasizing the values and the principles behind agile," not the processes of agile: timeboxes, stage integration, epics/stories/tasks, specialists, retrospectives, etc.

I agree. Many who begin with agile expect a set of processes and practices, and very uncomfortable with principles. People want to know what to do (a set of activities and tools that are to be used in agile projects), versus how to behave (a set of principles and values that direct activities). The development of tools and techniques (culminating in methodologies like XP and Scrum) are really more like, "best practices" or even better "hey this trick worked for me when I was trying to get feedback," than a process. If you value transparency and practice openness, you'll get self-organizing teams that develop incrementally. That transparency might be provided through a wiki, a daily meeting, email, a product backlog, a bulletin board, discussion forum or announcements over a PA, who cares! The goal is to share and the best tool for your organization that enables sharing might be very different that the office's down the hall.

So the challenge is how can we instill agile values and principles into the organization, not how can we deploy agile tools and adopt agile techniques.

"The interactive and collaborative nature of Web 2.0 tools, of which social media is just one category, clearly affords governments at all levels a significant opportunity to engage with citizens and the direct and indirect users of their services across a wide array of programs." That's the opening line of a 2010 National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO), report, "Friends, Followers and Feeds: A National Survey of Social Media Use in State Government." The report continues, "CIOs may not have been immediately convinced of the business value of these tools as they entered the workplace, but the fact is that this is how effective governments are communicating now, and this is not just a fad."

For me, looking out from a higher ed. perspective, the findings of NASCIO seem right on point as the use of social media and Web 2.0 tools by students, and an expectation that such tools should be available on campus and in class, is not only on the rise, but is considered part of the very definition of the "Millennial Generation." Morely Safer reported on "60 Minutes" "The workplace has become a psychological battlefield and the millennials have the upper hand, because they are tech savvy, with every gadget imaginable almost becoming an extension of their bodies. They multitask, talk, walk, listen and type, and text." (The "Millennials" Are Coming). Yet NASCIO reports the average age of a social network user is actually 40, which would indicate campus faculty and staff may be using such tools in even greater proportions than students. For example, faculty members extending teaching and learning through web based tools such as lecture notes in a blog or exams through Flickr; campus administrations opening communications channels through online video channels;

Indeed on of the challenges UMassOnline faces is the adoption and implementation

So the questions are:

  • How can UMassOnline work with social media and web2.0
  • How do we work those who have adopted.

"Leadership slots awarded for maintaining status quo, not novel ideas" That's the take home message from an upcoming Journal of Experimental Social Psychology article by Jack Goncalo, assistant professor of organizational behavior in Cornell's Industrial and Labor Relations School. According to the report, "creative people are viewed as risky and unpredictable, while leaders are expected to reduce uncertainty and uphold the norms of the group." So of course this begs the question, "what is the status quo?"

The answer to this question, I believe, depends solely on the perspective of those you ask, that is, what data sets are decision-makers turning to to identify current activities (i.e. the "norm"). For UMassOnline, I understand why many may be averse to taking on new initiatives in lieu of our established services and systems. If decision-making is primarily a top-down initiative-based approach, where new services and systems are strategic, then direction can only be based on a vision of the future. Granting any individual the authority to define the direction of an organization to me sounds very "risky and unpredictable."

However, granting authority to everyone, especially to everyone already using an organizations services and systems, seems not only less risky, but actually a very good way to identify development. I think this idea is expressed well in a few books of note, James Surowiecki's book Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations, Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams' book Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything and Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky.

So, to go full circle, if leadership is no longer best managed by individuals, but by crowds, perhaps the real question is what is "leadership?" Looking at things from this perspective it seems not only rational but reasonable that the leaders put in place within organizations would be managers of the status quo. "Leader" loses it's meaning relative to setting direction and shifts to the role of a senior manager.

'Who moved my cheese?'

Working in an Agile environment changes not only the practices undertaken to achieve the desired business objectives (the principles that enable success),  but the values that define success (the guidelines for how to work) for both the organization and individual staff. A recent post on the "Agile & Business" blog offers a few observations on how individuals can function successfully in an Agile organization (I've altered this a bit to generalize).

  1. Your job has gotten better (not stupid).
    • Instead of doing something stupid (trying to manage individuals in a waterfall process), you now help teams get better in a more effective approach/framework.
  2. Your job has gotten better (clearly useful).
    • Instead of trying to show in waterfall that you did something truly useful (almost impossible to show, really), you now can see real progress in the success of the team. And working product is a far better measure of real progress.
  3. Your job is different (remove impediments).
    • Instead of pushing the team to 'work harder', you now are a servant leader. Your main job is to help the team remove impediments.
  4. Your job is different (no command-and-control).
    • In almost all cases, we do not recommend the command-and-control style any more.
  5. More truth.
    • With both the people below you and the people above you (well, we want to start moving away from the hierarchy metaphor, to a more flat organization, but for now....)...for both sides, the good news is everyone is talking the truth more.

The blog continues...

"This is much more satisfying. Although, to be honest, in the short-term, and until we get more people understanding it, it can be painful and take more courage. But in the long-term, it is better for everyone, if we are all more honest. Our work of new product development is truly hard. We, of course, make lots of mistakes. (As all scientists who discover a new thing do.) We are trying as hard as we can to learn as fast as possible from our mistakes. None of us is perfect [the enemey of good...?]."

Jim Highsmith has a new blog post talking a bit about how the Agile movement has led to change in many areas: technology and development; approaches to management and decision-making; organizational structures, roles and responsibilities and social interactions; and ultimately, people. As Mr. Highsmith states, "Sometimes in thinking about organizational change we forget that it is ultimately a “people” change and that organizational change is the accumulation of individuals who are changing."

While many who read this may dismiss Mr. Highsmith's observations as obvious, after all, this seems pretty intuitive: "change can bring out feelings of suspicion, fear, foreboding, frustration, anger, dislike, confusion, hesitation, numbness, disquiet, uneasiness, fatigue, insecurity, anxiousness, irritability, and stressed out." I think a deeper discussion that includes Agile principles to facilitate change, could help to mitigate the above. Re-reading (and applying) the Agile Principles could provide a framework for the "development" of a new organization, just as they do for the "development" of a new application.

Here are this month's recommended reading from the Agile Chronicles:

Agile Goal Setting, by Jurgen Appelo in InfoQ article

And Now You're Just a Project Manager by David Bland in Dzone.

Changing Agile Roles — The Managers, a blog posy by Steve Ropa

Technical Debt a Perspective for Managers, by Mark Levison in InfoQ

Creating a Mess by "Eliminating Waste" blog post by Esther Derby

eWeek has published the results of a recent report commissioned by Citrix Online and compiled by Telework Research Network outlining the benefits U.S. businesses and employees could gain from adopting virtual work policies, including "reduced stress, increased productivity, better work and life balance, and reduced absenteeism." While the report focuses on debunking the myths, it does not list extended opportunities only made possible through telecommuting. When I consider telecommuting, I often think of the benefits organizations find in recruiting. For any organization, offering telecommuting extends the talent pool when recruiting. Quite honestly, if that perfect job candidate, living Columbus Ohio, is willing to move to Boston, then she is probably just as likely willing to move to Chicago. This increases the competition for extraordinary employees to the national, not simply regional level. An organization that doesn't require a highly desirable candidate to relocate, would have a leg up on the competition.

Here's the full article.

WebCT to CampusCruiser LMS: A Migration Success Story

If you're looking for advice on how to make an easy transition from your current LMS to a new one, you can read countless blogs and articles spouting broad generalizations or you can ask people whose institutions actually get the job done. To better understand the challenges surrounding the migration of college courses, we will speak with college instructional designers and faculty who have designed and implemented a course migration path from their previous LMS to CampusCruiser LMS.

If you are planning a review of your schools LMS in the months to come, you owe it to yourself to join this live webinar to hear technologists from Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) as they share the results from their course conversion from WebCT to CampusCruiser LMS and identify what really works when migrating to a new LMS.

Presented by:  Dr. Christopher Ostwinkle, Director of Distance Learning, Northeast Iowa Community College

Moderated by: Linda Briggs, contributing editor, Campus Technology

Original air date: Sep 28, 2010

All of the UMassOnline staff are under age of 45 so, according to a study conducted by IT staffing firm TEKsystems who surveyed nearly 1,000 CIOs and IT decision makers in the U.S. and Canada, we should be fully embracing the various business and communications technologies? Do we fit the model? According to the study as reported by CIO Insight:

  • "Millennials, and even some Gen X workers, don’t have landline phones. They don't use newsgroups. They’re communicating via social networks, Instant Message, Twitter and smartphones. This is where you need to engage them." I would have to say I am in compliance with this one: no landline (my office phone forward to my iPhone), I prefer to work through social networks (in this case Atlassian Confluence); IM is a must; Twitter (embarrassingly) has become a great tool for research, peer assessment, advice and trend-spotting, and; (again with shame) I can't imagine working-living-with out the apps.
  • "Embrace Text-Messaging: Talking on the phone is passé. It's reserved for conversations that are considered too complex for a quick text message, and even then the call has to be arranged in advance via text or IM. Need a fast response? Send a text. If you're a BlackBerry enterprise, use BlackBerry Messenger." While not a "Blackberry Enterprise," I couldn't agree more. With IM and Texting, it's like having your whole team with you all of the time.
  • E-Mail Is Old School: For younger workers, it’s a relic. Stick with IM. It makes communication speedy and appeals to workers who have grown up with such services." Again, agreed.
  • "Collaboration is Key: Millennials prefer teamwork, according to the TEKsystems survey. Boomers and Gen X workers might like autonomy, but Millennials are social and want to bounce around ideas. Bring collaboration into the IT mix." Another point of agreement, but with one caveat, collaboration, does not mean consensus. Get input from anyone and everybody, but at some point make a decision: "The enemy of good is perfect." However, don't fall into the of "pride of ownership," if your decision was wrong, accept it and adapt. Fail as early as possible to you can succeed as fast as possible.
  • "Expect Expertise: Baby Boomers, and many Gen X workers, learned what they know about computers while on the job. Smartphones were a sci-fi pipe dream when these folks entered the workforce. They have a tech learning curve that simply doesn't exist for the 'Digital Natives.'" While this might be true for those outside of IT, I would expect most of us working in technology today grew up with an Atari 2600 and Commodore 64 connected to their home television. I would offer that just because someone grew up surrounded by gadgets, that does not make them automatically qualified for a position developing technology. There is a big difference between a user and a developer: just ask our help desk staffs who assist students.
  • "Give Them An iPhone: BlackBerry is ideal from an enterprise perspective, but young workers want the latest, greatest smartphone, and they want to upgrade often. They expect to do more with it than e-mail and voice calling; for them, the smartphone is a full-fledged computing device." I have to agree (and admit a terrible bias), folks with Blackberries, don't really get it-I see Blackberry users more as consumers of technology than prosumers.
  • "A Little Freedom Goes A Long Way: Millennials want to check their Facebook news feed and talk with friends over IM while at work. Set corporate policies that give them some leeway and you'll all be better off for it." In fact where do my professional and personal lives end? They are intertwined to such a point that many of my best friends are those whom I have worked on technology projects with. This is not an expectation I have for my own staff and colleagues, but why wouldn't you want to encourage professional development through personal activities?
  • "You are Renting Their Time: Baby Boomers joined a company after college and expected to be there until retirement. Millennials job hop. Establish an institutional knowledge repository that lives on as the talent pool churns." Confluence?
  • "Legacy Hardware = Bad Morale: Please, don't give your Millennial workers that old Dell laptop that has been passed around the company for years. They want to be wowed by the newest, fastest, lightest devices you can offer." No comment here. I think organizational issues (like a budget) might be a larger factor. Let employees pick the tools they want, but I'm not sure how many organizations can afford to swap out technologies just because it is newer.
  • Show Me The Flex-Time: Money isn't the only motivating factor for Millennials. They expect a fair wage, but they also covet a work/life balance, according to the TEKsystems study. Do away with the old time-clock mentality. Give them time off, have flexible work hours, and offer work-from-home options." Agreed, but this is a two way street. Employees should be measured by performance (after all, shame on the management if they are not maximizing an employees potential, no matter where and when they are working), but the employees need to accept that they will need to get the work done, again, no matter where or when they are working.

So where do the GenX and Millennials of UMassOnline fit in?

Jeffery Hammond of Forrester Research reported at Linuxcon 2010 that Linux enjoys continuing adoption among developers and implementors within the business and general communities.

Hammond, according to, provided three years of analysis from IT operations directors/VPs and eclipse developers.

In a 2008 survey, cost reduction was the driving motivation of CIOs. But one year later, while reducing costs is still important, executives now view Linux as helping their companies go faster. They are choosing it for its flexibility and because it positions them for growth as we come out of the recession. The survey of Eclipse developers found interesting data around Linux used as a desktop environment. Hammond contends that developers are now influencing technology adoption more than ever before, as open source has allowed them to bypass traditional channels, start using code and then show the business what they can do. While traditional knowledge workers may not use the Linux desktop very often, developers do. In fact his data shows that 30% of developers use Linux for their development machines, with Ubuntu especially doing well. Linux is also the dominant platform for deployment of these applications, with 40% of apps deployed on Linux (compared with Window’s 37%). This is a far cry from just a few years ago.

Meanwhile, Dell has expanded it's Ubuntu offerings to the desktop.

Oh and "Microsoft loves open source."

Image credit: CIO Insight

I just found this post on CIO Insight, Workplace Technology: Employees Take Charge.

What I find interesting is, that if one replaces the references to companies with references to campuses and online learning, I still sorta agree...

Remember the days when a CIO could simply dash off a memo to the entire [campus or system]  and say, "We are buying [some academic technology] for everybody and that is that ..."? Well, that era may be coming to an end, according to research from IDG Research Services and RSA, which is the security division of EMC. Today, [student, faculty and campus] users of [online teaching and learning technology] have a great degree of influence on which [LMS's, CMS's, e-Portfolios, discussion forums, grade books, social bookmarking, graphics annotation, blogs, wiki's] and other [academic technology] tools are used [in their courses]. And – even though [university systems and campuses] hardly encourage the practice – many [students, faculty and staff] use personal gadgets to tap into enterprise networks, email and [academic] applications. This practice presents considerable security issues, as the research shows breaches being reported by large enterprises. The general consensus appears to be "If we can't beat 'em, join 'em." In fact, CIOs and other IT managers concede that these trends are actually improving workplace productivity. The survey was commissioned from IDG Research Services by RSA. The report featured responses from nearly 40 CIOs and security/IT managers surveyed. Two thirds of those surveyed say that tools such as netbooks, tablets, smart phones and social media increase workplace productivity. More than one quarter of respondents say their company allows employees to use their own PCs/mobile devices for work.

While it is true that colleges and universities have a long tradition of committees to help in organizational governance and decision-making, I think this article points to the emergence of more informal, organic and collaborative processes in defining direction, or what I would label as openness.*

Considering this trend toward distributed decision-making, it will become imperative for organizations (including colleges and universities) to find methods to identify the growing interests in technologies and services among their staff and user-base. Interestingly, in my mind, the same research offers a viable approach: "More than 80 percent of companies now allow some form of access to social-network sites," and; "Among companies that do allow access to social-network sites, 62 percent use these tools for external communications with customers, partners." This "openness" say 63 percent of the CIOs, IT managers and security professionals surveyed, increases productivity.

* Openness is a very general philosophical position from which some individuals and organizations operate, often highlighted by a decision-making process recognizing communal management by distributed stakeholders (users/producers/contributors) rather than a centralized authority (owners, experts, boards of directors, etc.).