Bridging Technology to Pedagogical Knowledge

By Becky Vasquez, CIO, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Becky Vasquez, CIO, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

1. How would you describe the role of a CIO today?

In my opinion, the role focuses on being the chief partner to all entities within the institution. CIOs have to make everyone else’s business their business in order to support the continuous evolution of the university. While being the primary technical leader, CIOs have a real opportunity to be thought leaders and bring forth innovative solutions to not only solve problems but provide competitive advantages.

2. How can the CIOs make their business counterparts think differently about the importance of Education?

Typically, CIOs do not have to make this a part of their agenda given that counterparts generally have a shared vision and understanding of our collective mission regarding education. CIOs do have an opportunity to help demonstrate the importance of technology and education. Students as consumers arrive with technology expectations. Technology, when coupled with pedagogically sound practices, can support improved learning outcomes and increase engagement. Providing examples of this in practice in partnership with the academic community is an example of how CIOs can make the case.

"Technology, when coupled with pedagogically sound practices, can support improved learning outcomes and increase engagement"

3. As the technology sphere evolves with each passing day, what are some of the latest trends that are gripping your mind?

Anything to do with big data, business intelligence and artificial intelligence stays top of mind. We have so many rich sources of data that it can literally blow your mind to think of harnessing the various disparate pieces for deep, action oriented decision making and intelligence across the university.

4. Which growing or future technology innovation are you personally excited about?

Augmented reality is exciting. Virtual reality and mixed spaces have potential to bring the online learning environment to the next level and greatly enhance the traditional classroom experience. In addition, while not a technical innovation but a method, I believe any initiative or service we embark on can benefit from a design thinking approach, regardless of the area.

5. How can the evolving technologies help Education industry overcome the challenges?

Like anything, I believe this is a consideration based on direction or specific challenges. Technology for technology’s sake isn’t sustainable. As long as we are able to identify practical examples of advantages, evolving technologies will continue to enhance education as they have over the past few decades.

7. Moving from traditional IT to a service offering model requires a major mindset shift in IT. How did you make that happen?

Having empathy and creativity are two key ingredients. Having empathy towards the experience, needs, goals and objectives of those we serve and also a creative approach with internal teams is important. Our work is exciting and unique; we are a part of a life changing experience for each and every student. This should be a fun and a creative process. Effective communications cannot be emphasized enough. Communicate, communicate, and then communicate some more.

8. What is your advice for the upcoming or budding CIOs?

I attended a conference recently and one presenter stated, “However good you think you are, you’re not good enough.” That may seem like a daunting statement but it inspired me to continue to grow and change with the institution and for the amazing team I am fortunate to work with every day. Learn new things each and every day. Surround yourself with smart, talented people who also possess a sense of humor. The CIO world can get serious very quickly–having this group to surround you helps make every day a better day.

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