CIO Challenges Educators to Stay Relevant

Wichita State University CIO Dr. Ravi Pendse last month issued a provocative challenge to educators to rethink their tools and tactics if they are to remain relevant a decade from now.

Addressing a regional edition of the popular TED conference in Wichita, KS, Dr. Pendse, who is both the CIO of Wichita State University and an award-winning professor, said he chose the term “relevant” deliberately. In his view, educators who continue to rely upon lectures and chalkboards as the tools of their profession are becoming dangerously out of step with the ways in which young people learn.  Educators must not only adopt the tools the students use but also adapt their curricula to the topics that interest those students.

“If the goal is to get people excited about history, shouldn’t we study the history of Google?” he asked. “Our young people are looking for complete convergence. If you can’t provide it to them, you have a problem of relevance.”

To illustrate how out-of-step some educational institutions have become with even everyday technology, Dr. Pendse asked audience members to exchange cell phones with each other. He noted the nervous rumbling the exercise created among the crowd. “It’s uncomfortable not to have those devices with you,” he said. “So why do we tell people in the schools to turn them off? We should be using them as educational tools instead.”

Facebook is ubiquitous among college students, but many higher education administrators don’t use any social networks at all. With the social network expected to surpass 1 billion members sometime this summer, “Wouldn’t a class be popular that studied the sociology of Facebook?” he asked.

Dr. Pendse acknowledged that his views aren’t universally shared, but he expressed little sympathy for educators who refuse to change. “I call them CAVE people,” he quipped. “That stands for Colleagues Against Virtually Everything.”

The analogy of the caveman may not be lost on an older generation that is falling further behind. By the age of 21, many young people today have played 10,000 hours of online games, Dr. Pendse noted. Educators may not approve of that fact, but they need to accept it and discover some of the virtues of video games, since they improve motor skills and concentration, that’s why so many people get the best hardware for their games, like processors from this amd fx 6300 review so they can play games as Overwatch using different OW Guides.

For example, “They require creativity. They even have built-in assessment tools; you can’t go to level 15 without completing level 14. And young people are collaborating across the world to figure out how to get to that next level.”

If educators are to get to the next level themselves, they need to put down the chalk and pick up the mouse. “Technology will never replace teachers,”’ he said, “but we can use technology to help a much greater number of students learn from each other.”

You can see Dr. Pendse’s 23-minute presentation below.

Nothing ivy-covered about these students

This morning, I had the chance to speak to a group of students in Susan Dobscha’s class at Bentley College. All I can say is: marketers, you’d better get ready for some big changes.

These students don’t have to be taught concepts like conversation marketing, customer engagement and the value of social media. They live it every day. They throw around words like “transparency” as easily as their predecessors used “CPM.” They understand intuitively that marketing is about relationships and what they termed “deep branding.” That means embedding a brand on a customer’s mind through a long-term series of interactions that stress value for both parties.

The topic turned to Facebook for a while, and it’s clear that the students regard it as a tool to facilitate relationships. They maintain very large networks of casual acquaintances — one student described them as the people you say “hi” to in the hallway but don’t stop to talk to — and social networks are a means to accomplish this. I asked a class of about 25 students if any of them had formed meaningful relationships online and only one hand went up. Despite what the older generation may think, these kids value personal relationships as much as anybody else, it’s just that they expect to maintain friends networks that are five or six times as large as those of their parents. Imagine how business will be done differently when millions of these people hit the workforce.

One innovative project that this class is pursuing is maintaining a blog. Each student is required to follow a single blogger and to comment upon his or her writings during the course of the semester. These real-time observations are incorporated into the curriculum, making the classroom conversation about as current as any I have ever seen. The instructor told me that this is Bentley’s first social media marketing course and that enrollment filled up in 20 minutes. You can see why: these kids understand where the future lies and they’re not weighted down by assumptions about how marketing should be done. Beginning next year, some of them will be working for you. I would advise you to listen carefully to what they have to say. And Bentley should take those enrollment numbers as a message.

I had lunch with a small group of Bentley marketing faculty, several of whom specialize in marketing analytics. One professor asked me, somewhat ruefully, if marketers have wasted the last 20 years perfecting their analytical skills. I’m afraid I only gave half an answer. I said that the focus on analytics was a function of the limitations of media at the time. In other words, it was impossible to have meaningful conversations with customers until a few years ago, so marketers focused on measuring the limited contact they had.

What I should have said was that analytics will be even more important in the coming era. The Internet is the most measurable medium ever invented, and the challenge for marketers will be to develop useful metrics from a vast menu of options. The marketing analytics discipline should only grow in importance as people sort through all the choices. While it’s true that relationship marketing demands different skills that analytical marketing, that doesn’t make analytical skills any less important. Quite the contrary.