AVP & CTO Update August 7, 2018
We are in the ‘dog days of summer’. I have always believed that to be August more generally, however it appears that it really runs from July to August and isn’t necessarily tied to the weather as much as the stars! I hope you all embraced the amazing weather most of this past long weekend which provided clear skies for star watching.
What I learned last week – what a week!
- The McMaster IT Strategic Plan Steering Committee met on Monday morning. Once again the committee was fantastic in its guidance and input into the various areas we discussed, which included IT culture, and IT principles as well as our ongoing engagement strategy. We have more work to do and will have improved outcomes as a result of our time together. I am very grateful to the committee. Updates will be posted on the AVP and CTO website.
- I attended the UTS staff celebration day on Tuesday. The department held its event at the Hamilton Harbour in the lovely Royal Hamilton Yacht Club where the Waterfront Banquet Centre is located – a lovely facility for training and lunch. The morning was a session on strengths and IT culture. Then we all headed out for a cruise on the Hamilton Harbour Queen for more team building and fun. It was a well planned and well attended event – with lots of laughter and team building thrown in. Thank you to the organizing committee as well as everyone who participated. It was great to spend time with you all.
- Tanya, Amanda and I led a group of undergraduate students through one of our strategic planning workshops on Thursday, including a digital moment exercise like those we have done at all the other strategic planning sessions. It was a really engaging group of student leaders and we gathered excellent feedback and ideas from this team. Marzena Kielar was able to be there to introduce herself also and talk about the IT Student Advisory Committee which will soon be in progress. Spending time with students in this kind of session is a fantastic reminder of why we are so fortunate to work at McMaster.
- The rest of my week was taken up with a lot of budget and strategic planning activities. That is going to be the flavour of my activities for the rest of the summer!
- I want to share a great EDUCAUSE article I read last week on the Microsoft HoloLens and how Case Western University is integrating the technology into teaching and learning opportunities. The videos interspersed in the article gave me chills – don’t miss them! Courtney Sheppard from the Faculty of Social Sciences recently informed me that there are faculty in their area that are working on projects of this nature with VR and I am looking forward to learning more soon.
- The McMaster Accessibility Committee (MAC) distributed a survey meant to gather data on the websites affiliated with the McMaster.ca domain, and to evaluate our AODA compliance and readiness. This will be a precursor to providing defined tools and defintion to our AODA compliance efforts and sustainability, and will also provide input into a web strategy that is currently being developed for input by Andrea Farquhar and myself. EDUCAUSE has another article worth reading on this topic with a focus on empathy towards our end users and ensuring we gain their input when finding solutions.
What I read last week
I used the CloudLibrary app for the first time. The Guelph Public Library uses it to provide access to its collection online. You can download audio books at no cost. The app works just like Audible. I was so excited that I downloaded 7 books…you get 21 days before they expire. This week’s two books are the first of the 7:
- My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante, an Italian author. It explores Naples after the second world war from the eyes of two young girls, their friendship. It shares a violent culture, with anger, fear, uncertainty about the future. It made me think of the West Side Story – emotional grudges, factions between neighbours and families. Apparently it is the first in a series of four…so I guess I will have to see if the rest are available, too.
- The Dog Stars by Peter Heller. Another post apocalyptic novel. As with the others I have read, it explores what it might be like if some aspect of our civilization went really wrong – in this case, a flu pandemic – and only a few people survived… Let’s call it horror fascination. The book is poetically written and thoroughly engrossing. And it explores fully the echo of loss. A funny coincidence that the Dog Star is Sirius and is related to the dog days of summer as well…
What I am up to this week
- Most of the coming week will be focused on strategic planning and budget, with a few of my regular meetings peppered here and there.
- On Wednesday I will be attending a dinner to say farewell to Mohamed Attalla who is going to the University of Illinois. It has been a real pleasure working with Mohamed and I am glad I will have the opportunity to say congratulations to him in person. We also work closely with the team from Facilities and will continue to do so.
That is it – have a great short week everyone! Hoping the dog days of summer continue to bring warm weather.