Archives For Innovation

Self Driving Cars
Source: Self Driving Cars are Not “Five Years Away”

I have been a exploring change or why it can be so difficult to bring effective change to educational institutions for the past several decades so I when read this post about self driving cars being further off not because of the technology but because of people and policy I was immediately reminded about this reality:

Technology is is the easy part – changing people is hard

What can we do about it? I am still trying to find the definitive answer to this but over the years I have explored the following ideas in pursuit of this answer:

I could go on and on but you will note the the common thread in all these posts is that change starts with us and before we can change anything around out we need to be the ones who are willing to make the biggest change.

Leaders from 25 Canadian universities, industry and the federal government, the Leadership Council for Digital Infrastructure, Canadian University Council of Chief Information Officers, Compute Canada, and CANARIE participated in a Universities Canada workshop in Vancouver on November 30 and December 1, 2015 to discuss the trends, opportunities and challenges in leveraging digital technologies for research, university operations, and teaching and learning.

A report titled Canadian Universities and our Digital Future A workshop by Universities Canada which summarized the results of the the workshop was release in May of 2016.

An excerpt from the report suggests that:

“Given these trends and the creative ways in which digital technologies can be used to support universities’ teaching and learning, research enterprise and administration, Canadian universities are presented with a range of opportunities and ways to innovate.

Universities will continue to incorporate digital technologies to attract more students, support their success, engage students in new ways, cater to their learning styles and needs, and better prepare them for their future careers. They will also use digital technologies to support a robust research environment involving online collaboration and access to increasingly large data sets and high-performance computing networks. And they will use technologies to offer a more secure, effective and efficient administrative environment, including improved student services.”

The 12-page report can be downloaded at

Learning something new is frustrating. It involves being dumb on the way to being smart. Once we get good enough (at our tools, at our work) it’s easier and easier to skip learning how to do the next thing, because, hey, those fifteen minutes are a hassle. (Godin, 2016)

I have been thinking about this Seth Godin quote ever since he posted The first fifteen minutes to his blog in January. For the most part I think he is accurate. All too often we are not willing to deal with the fifteen minutes of hassle to learn something new that can save us hundreds or even thousands of minutes down the road. I said for the most part because Godin’s fifteen minute rule can only be applied to the simplest of tasks, tools or processes. It also only applies if the task, tool, or process impacts you as an individual. Once the you bring in other people into the picture the time factor can increase significantly. Regardless of the complexity of the task or the added complexity of a collaborative effort the short time pain for long term gain are still worth the effort. Let me explain.

Students in the Lamar University Master of Digital Learning and Leading (DLL) study online and use digital books and resources. When they transition from one course to the next it has become common practice to share the reading list for the next course to give them the opportunity to stay up with the high volume of reading. We only use digital resources in the program and due to the nature of Digital Learning these resources are constantly being updated. Keeping and sharing static lists of these resources for each of the courses in the Master program has become a challenge. Updating a shared Google document doesn’t offer enough power and flexibility.

This is why we planning a move to Zotero reference management software. I have been using reference management software of one kind or another since the mid 1990’s and have been using the open source, cloud based Zotero since it was first developed in 2007. Therefore, I didn’t have to spend fifteen minutes to learn the software. However, I did have to spend much more then fifteen minutes because I had to explore and test:

  • The best way to set up Zotero Groups which included determining the correct group and user permissions and access model,
  • How to add new users and how to invite and share access to the system;
  • How to instruct the group administrators and new users how access and use the online system.

Each of these steps took approximately fifteen minutes so Godin’s model does work if you multiply it by numbers of significant steps in the process. If you factor in the initial learning process I would have spent sixty minutes to get to the point where I could demonstrate to my colleagues that using Zotero would be the best way for us to share DLL resources.

But are the sixty minutes worth the effort. Godin argues:

The problem with evaluating the first fifteen minutes of frustration is that we easily forget about the 5,000 minutes of leverage that frustration earns us if we stick it out.

Once again Godin’s model is based on individual effort. When you factor in the six or seven full time faculty and dozen or so adjunct faculty who will use the Zotero system and the hundreds of students who will not only use Zotero to access the course reading lists, but will also share it with their students the impact can be much more significant then the 5,000 minutes of leverage that Godin points to.

Perhaps even more important than the time savings and leverage is the impact this can have on our future leaders. Our program is call Digital Learning and Leading so it is appropriate that faculty in the program model the digital leadership required to take the fifteen or sixty or more minutes of frustration in order to leverage the power of digital learning which will have an exponential effect. This is what leaders do and what leaders must model.


Godin. (2016, January 16). Seth’s Blog: The first fifteen minutes [Blog]. Retrieved from

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January 27, 2016 — Leave a comment