Being a Social CIO at a Liberal Arts College

Being a Social CIO at a Liberal Arts College

Perhaps the most important role that a Chief Information Officer has, is to be an advocate for the role of technology at the senior leadership level.

We live in a world of ubiquitous connectivity, knowledge, and entertainment. How do we incorporate that “new normal” into the residential college experience? A significant component of what I do is focus a lens on what technology means for today’s students, and to insert that perspective into the priorities of the College.

There is a perception that technology is antithetical to a traditional liberal arts education. And that’s simply not true. There are studies that show that a blended use of technology, coupled with traditional methods of teaching, can produce outcomes superior to using either approach alone. But I do not see it as my job to force technology upon faculty. Pedagogy drives our technology planning, and not the other way around.

The definition of what constitutes work and learning spaces now means being able to work, learn, and study anywhere we have an Internet connection. Students are constantly connected, and voraciously consume video and content. Our greatest opportunity -­ and challenge -­ is to keep our networking infrastructure ahead of the demand curve, and recognize that this is now no longer an amenity, but a baseline necessity for our students and a competitive advantage if we can successfully communicate our capabilities to our prospects.

As an entrepreneur, I was always dialed into the importance of promoting my personal brand, as a key part of my business’s overall marketing strategy.

When I transitioned to CIO in 2011, I eased off my social media activity until I could get my bearings with regard to my new position. It’s one thing to promote your personal brand when you’re the CEO; it’s quite another to do so as a senior member of the administration of a leading liberal arts college.

But once I understood how I could retain my authenticity, and still help craft interesting conversations about the College within my established social networks, I relaxed and just let the stories about the cool projects we were working on develop organically.

The key is to be true to yourself, respect the brand and institution(s) you represent, and be accountable for your conversations in the marketplace of ideas.

That – and a ton of self­ editing.

SlideShare Professional Journey Tool

SlideShare Professional Journey Tool

Professional Journey

SlideShare has a new Professional Journey Tool, that will create a slick slide show of your professional life – using data pulled directly from your LinkedIn Profile.

Like a lot of automated tools of its kind, it’s great at simplifying the task of creating engaging infographics, while erring on the ability to edit the content once it’s created. Also, the finished product can only be viewed on SlideShare – but I’m betting a paid feature will soon follow, to allow you to download to PowerPoint or Keynote.

Definitely worth a look.

One traditional undergraduate university to close

One traditional undergraduate university to close


Bryan Alexander

Benedictine University SpringfieldBenedictine University of Springfield will close its undergraduate program next year.  To start off that sad process, it’s laying off 75 of its 100 full-time staff.

Why is that BU ending?  Because of money, of course, but in an unusual way.  They can’t afford to keep up with the non-academic, student life demands of today’s undergraduate marketplace:

“We would need to have an athletic facility, a student center, and we would need to grow out residence hall population,” [Michael Bromberg, president] said. “We would need to spend a minimum of $40 million, and we have no reason to believe that would make us more competitive than we are today.”

That’s the traditional undergraduate market, for learners aged 18-22.  Adult learners are whom BUS will continue to serve, presumably because they don’t need sports, a student center, and forms.

To return to some of this blog’s usual themes, today’s story brings…

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I’m usually underwhelmed by most mobile apps. Many are entirely derivative, or are of the “X of Y” variety (e.g., “The Uber of Cleaning Ladies”, “The Amazon of Bubble Gum Dispensers”, the “Paypal of Bitcoin”).

However, one app I’ve seen lately stands out, not only as innovative, but practically useful and beneficial – PhotoMath.

PhotoMath claims to be the “world’s first camera calculator.” I don’t know about that. I do know, it is very cool.

The way the app works is this: you point your phone’s camera at a printed math expression (it needs to be printed, not hand written, at least for the current version of the app). The app then “solves” the equation – in real time, while you watch.

The power of the app is not only does it solve the scanned problem, but presents the steps it uses to solve the problem as well. Great learning tool, and extremely handy for those who suffer from dysgraphia or dyslexia.

Step 1

Watch the video below, to see the app in action.

Another Lesson Learned at the Feet of Apple

Another Lesson Learned at the Feet of Apple


Some Days. Amirite?

First, our Enterprise Developer Account expired. Joyful.

So, I spent the morning creating new certificates and provisioning profiles, downloading them, and installing them on my developer machine.

After reprovisioning and recompiling, I load up new .ipa files… and while two out of the three of my .ipa files install as advertised, when deployed over the air – the third one did not.

Now, the Apple ecosystem isn’t known to always give the most direct error messages. “Could not install application” didn’t really inspire me with a Eureka! moment on where to start hunting down my issue.

My next thought was to simply copy the problem .ipa file to iTunes, and try to sideload the sucker. I was greeted with this message: App could not be added to your itunes library because it is not a valid app.

… and so I start Googling around, which led me to several posts (here, here, and here).

OK, then. Back into XCode. Double checked everything. Things look OK. Scratch head.

I next get the bright idea to try to use XCode’s Organizer to load the .ipa file directly to my device (not gonna let the dumb stick to me!). When I do that, I get this error message: Could not inspect the application package.

What the actual what?!?

I’d renamed my Product name in my project. I had valid certificates and provisioning profiles (and two working apps using the same that were doing fine). I didn’t have a directory or a file named resources in my project. I had no errors in my build. And, before our account expired, all three of my apps were loading just fine over the air, thank you very much.

What in the hell was going on here?

Well, three things, really, that I haven’t shared yet.

  • I had updated to iOS 8. Not really a suspected cause, because the app wasn’t loading on any devices any more, regardless of OS level.
  • I had upgraded to Yosemite. Which means…
  • I had updated to XCode 6.1 in order to accommodate iOS 8 and Yosemite.

Oy. This was it.

The only thing I knew to do now, was to look at the project file source between my two working apps and the non-working one to see if anything jumped out – nothing did.

Finally, in an act of desperation, I renamed my bad app’s Application .plist file, and copied over the .plist file from one of the working apps, into my project.


Why did XCode 6.1 suddenly not like a .plist file, that had worked perfectly fine before, but now puke it up altogether after I upgraded?

Who knows. Who cares?

All I know is, I spent all day, hunting down essentially a problem in the way that a tool handled a once valid .plist file, but inexplicably and mysteriously stopped liking it after an upgrade.

Some Days. Amirite?

Yosemite’s Handoff – Getting it Working

Yosemite’s Handoff – Getting it Working


Handoff is one of the cooler new features of the latest release of Apple’s OS X operating system, Yosemite.

The feature allows documents initially created on iOS Devices (running iOS 8 or later) to be “picked up” and worked upon using Macs running Yosemite… and vice-versa.

Handoff depends upon Bluetooth Low Energy in order to work. So, in addition to making sure that:

  • You are using iOS 8 (or later) on your iOS devices
  • You are running Yosemite on your Macs
  • You have Handoff enabled on your Macs and iOS Devices
  • You have all devices signed into the same iCloud account
  • and You have Bluetooth enabled,

You must also make sure that your Mac supports BLE.

To do that, you can do one of the following:

Enter the following command into Terminal:

system_profiler SPBluetoothDataType | grep LMP


Go to the Apple Menu, click About this Mac, click System Report. Select Bluetooth. Look at the LMP Version.

The version must be 0x6 for Handoff to work. 

Otherwise, no dice.

An important implication of depending upon Bluetooth Low Energy for Handoff, is that you must be in close proximity to your devices, in order for Handoff to work.

Checkout Lifehacker and iMore for more info on checking your Macs for BLE capability.


iMac with 5K Retina Display

iMac 5K Retina Display

Today, Apple announced upgrades to their iPad and iMac product lines, as well as announcing availability (immediate) for their new OS X release, Yosemite, and for Apple Pay’s go live date (Monday, October 20).


Positioning Visitors with iBeacons


Great write up on the implementation challenges of deploying low-energy bluetooth beacons (Apple’s iBeacon technology is based upon LEB) in the Brooklyn Museum.


Two-Factor Authentication – Just Do It


In case you need more impetus for using two-factor authentication for your cloud-service accounts, there’s the news that 7,000,000 Dropbox user names were hacked, and hundreds of passwords have now been posted in the clear on Reddit.

If you’re using cloud services, implement two-factor authentication. Now.

The Power of Restoration

The Power of Restoration


We had a fantastic “Fall Break” in San Antonio this past weekend.

I often forget the power and efficacy of restoration, and the simple need to “get away.” Our trip to San Antonio helped me realize that these past few years I should have taken more time to do this.

I’ll do better. Promise.