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Technology, Collaboration, and Sharing in Higher Education

Max Davis-Johnson

In his latest video, Associate Vice President and Chief Information Officer Max Davis-Johnson talks about how higher education shares and collaborates in many areas. Whether it’s technology, administration, or pedagogy sharing is in our DNA. This was recently on display as Boise State University hosted WestNet, a bi-annual meeting of information technology professionals from Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico who come together twice a year to to collaborate and share successes and challenges.

We learn and share in higher education, and are proud to be a member of this IT community.


This is Max Davis-Johnson, Boise State University, Office of Information Technology.

Today I’m going to talk about technology collaboration and sharing in higher ed. You know, as an industry, in higher ed we share our successes, we share our failures, and we share best practices. And not only in technology; in administration, in pedagogy, in research. It’s just part of our our DNA.

From a technology standpoint, higher ed is unique due to the breadth and width of the different technologies we support. We have transactional systems, we have student systems, we have learning management systems. Our campus network literally has thousands of guests coming in every day bringing their own devices. We have large data sets that we ship across the country. There is a tremendous amount of things that we do in higher ed, and unless you’re Boise State it’s really hard to be an expert in all of them (just kidding…but we’re pretty close).

One of the things that we do in higher ed is that we share technology, we reach out, we engage, and we learn best practices from each other. We understand our successes, our failures, we know what works, and it’s all part of our ecosystem. And a great example of that is WestNet, which actually is going on right now behind me as I speak.

WestNet has been around for 30 years and consists of networking and infrastructure experts from higher ed institutions in Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico. We get together twice a year and we we share everything. It’s just a really great conference, we’ve been doing it for a while, we’re comfortable with each other, and there’s nothing that we won’t ask each other.

I think one reason that we share and collaborate is because we’re all mission-based institutions. We’re here to educate, we’re here to increase knowledge through research, and we’re also very engaged in community service which is one of the great things about being in higher ed, and it’s one of the great things about being in higher ed technology.

Another good example is our recent HCM implementation that we’re currently stabilizing. We have reached out to a number of other institutions that are live on the system and, just like us, have gone through many of the things that we have done. We’ve reached out to Baylor, Wyoming, Vanderbilt…they’ve all helped us determine best practices and they’ve given us ideas on how to best use the system. And again, it’s because of the collaborative nature of higher ed. There’s no other industry that collaborates and shares like higher education does.

I’m just proud to be part of this industry.

Until next time, thank you.