Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Future of Online Education

Online education has crept into every level of the academic system, from grade school to graduate school. It is now even prevalent in the corporate world as a viable means to train the workforce in areas such as safety, security, and corporate policies.


Online education is really just an offshoot of the old correspondence courses, which allowed people to take classes by mail. With modern technology, it is much faster and more efficient than the days of mailing in your test. There is an informative infographic at which chronicles the history of higher education up to the modern day.

I taught my first online course in 2006. I will admit that I was skeptical at first. How can I be the “sage on the stage” when there is no stage? How can my brilliant wit come shining through emoticons? I was pleasantly surprised after I taught my first course. The students learned as much, if not more, than had I been at the front of the room at the center of attention, and that is the point. Once I removed myself as the only expert in the room, the students shared experiences and learned from each other. It is very important to set up the course correctly in order to stimulate dialogue and interaction but, once it starts, get out of the way and let the learning begin. The instructor then becomes a guide as much as a lecturer.

Current State

Today, most public and private universities offer at least one online course and many offer entire online degrees. Employers are accepting online degrees from reputable universities, just as if someone had spent that same time “in the seat”. Many are using the same tools as part of their corporate training. They recognize the quality and efficiency that distributed education brings. If the tools and curriculum are high quality, they can easily rival traditional education.


Course management systems such as Blackboard and eCollege have been around for at least ten years and provide the instructor with a structure for creating and housing online courses and provides the class structure for shared discussions, file repositories, and impromptu virtual meetings. These tools promote open learning and discussion while maintaining the structure of a traditional course. Course development and presentation tools are being refined constantly and new versions are available for the mobile platform.

Future State

New tools are coming online that facilitate learning, either for a credit bearing degree or for a life skill or interest. Online education is going mobile and is going very broad. With the advent of MOOC’s or Massive Open Online Courses, companies such as EdX or Coursera are providing the structure for offering courses from prestigious universities such as MIT and Stanford. It is still to be determined how one obtains credit or a certificate from these courses and whether these will be recognized by an employer or another university. With the opening of these courses and online courses around the world, education has come out of the traditional classroom and is now available to any new or continuing student. This is one genie that won’t go back in the bottle.

Let me know what you think the future holds for online education and for education in general.


About Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional, adjunct faculty for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT topics that keep him up at night.

What May Be Expected of an Undergraduate after Graduation

Today’s post is written by Anna Grigoryeva, an undergraduate student working part-time with the AIM Program. As the economy and job market continue to be affected by changes in information technology, the growth of social media, and access to big data, we wondered how today’s undergraduates are managing and interacting with today’s information. We asked Anna to share her thoughts on preparing to enter the job market.

Anna GrigoryevaAs a senior undergraduate at the University of Oregon, it is with excitement that I say I am ready to graduate this upcoming June. I started attending the University of Oregon in 2010, right after I finished high school. While I was attending high school, I started early college at Portland Community College, where I pursued my Associate of Arts Transfer (AAOT) degree. When I entered UO, I had more than sixty transferred credits and was determined to study what I pictured my career path to be… or so I thought. And the journey began.

I changed my major at least five times. Starting off with a focus on interior architecture, then some political science courses, to actually changing my major to political science! Unfortunately, the subject dulled for me, therefore I pursued the next appealing subject, which happened to be economics. I became dissatisfied with my dead-end career choices after declaring economics as a major and made another switch—this time to business. Later, I pursued journalism with a concentration in advertising and public relations. I went through so many majors, my parents decided to put a stop to it. They knew I wanted to graduate in three years, so they encouraged me to make up my mind, and fast! Finally settling on a major—general social sciences with a concentration on economics, business and society—was the most suitable decision I made. It was perfect, because I already had some background in economics, business, journalism and political science, which fit the major requirements. For this reason, I am graduating early.

My classes range from arts and languages to mathematics and sciences. I decided to take a wide variety of classes outside my major because I wanted to learn things I never would have discovered otherwise. In this economy, I believe that a bachelor’s degree doesn’t impact your future much. Unfortunately, I feel it is recognized as equivalent to a high school diploma nowadays. I know I want to pursue my master’s one day, but with all the loans I took out, my master’s degree will have to wait a little longer. Right now, what matters is all the connections you make—your social network, your job/volunteer/internship experiences. Employers are looking for recommendations outside your classroom. Some of them don’t even check your transcripts, and that can be frustrating because we know how much effort we put into getting good grades. That’s why I chose the path that I did. I’m happy with the degree I chose and the ability to graduate a year early. I feel that I have experienced college at the UO and acquired many skills and plenty of experience for my prospective employment and nonemployment opportunities.

If I happened to graduate with just my degree, without any previous job experience, it would be difficult for me to find a job. So far, all employers that have interviewed me focused mainly on what kind of experience I have, or generally, what I have to offer. Because my background ranges from social sciences to arts and sciences, I am a very creative person. Therefore, I decided to publicize myself via social networks. I started building my LinkedIn professional network, where future employers may see my job description and recommendations from people I worked with. My Facebook and Twitter pages are professionally-oriented in that I make sure everything on them is appropriate and professional. I created an online portfolio where people may look at my projects and possibly contact me for future employment.

I believe that, in the current work field, being open minded and having a broad range of experience is important. It’s also necessary to show interest in new developments within your occupation. Although it is ideal to have a degree in economics, business and society, it is also beneficial to have a well-rounded background because employers are seeking individuals who are able to cope with the potential hardships that they may encounter in a work environment. Some experiences that have made me a more well-rounded person are: becoming president of the German club; earning a bachelor’s degree in science; gaining work experience through helping with the Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program’s blog and social networks; acquiring skills as a technical support assistant; interactions and connections made through Relay for Life volunteer work as the online chair, and recently as a marketing and publicity coordinator for an on-campus magazine for women, Her Campus Oregon. These skills and experiences, along with others, compose my profile and display how social and busy I was throughout my educational career. I’m ready to graduate and am anticipating showing my prospective employers what I have to offer.

After graduating, my plan is to become a full-time adventurer and move to Germany whilst pursuing an occupation with an open position in the marketing/advertising field. Eventually, I would enjoy embarking on a new educational journey by pursuing a master’s degree there.

Sick of All This Data!

Stethoscope on laptopIt appears that there is a gap between the available information technology within healthcare and the adoption of that technology. What is behind this gap? Are health care professionals simply too busy to take advantage of new technology or are the current healthcare privacy laws preventing us from using networked information tools to their fullest?


We have been applying technology to healthcare and disease prevention for centuries but it is only in the last fifty years that we have applied technology to healthcare information collection and dissemination. The pace of introduction and adoption is accelerating and that is causing problems with healthcare professionals and healthcare IT professionals. On the one hand, the introduction of sophisticated healthcare record management applications brings a welcome relief to an industry facing increasing privacy and record management regulations but, at the same time, it is coming on top of an already full workload. How is a healthcare professional supposed to find the time to learn and master the new systems? What is the role of the healthcare IT professional? Are we doing all we can to simplify systems and interfaces in order to accelerate adoption?

Electronic Health Records

According to the Health Information and Management Systems Society, “The Electronic Health Record (EHR) is a longitudinal electronic record of patient health information generated by one or more encounters in any care delivery setting.” This includes information on past interactions with healthcare providers as well as current and past medication history. The aim is to make this information available through an electronic interface to any healthcare provider, whether a patient is seeing their primary provider or whether they become ill while vacationing in a foreign land. With great information, however, comes great responsibility, and thus legislation such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). This creates the tension of providing available medical records through a secure and responsible infrastructure to strained healthcare providers who don’t have additional bandwidth to learn new systems and interfaces.

Interoperability of Health Care Records

Health IT will not achieve the predicted savings and efficiency until technology is more widespread and readily adopted according to a new Health Affairs report. Part of the issue of full adoption has to do with interoperability of health records. Right now, there is not a single standard for sharing health information, and vendors do not have a strong incentive to create a standard. If we couple difficult-to-use technology with the fact that a provider cannot see the full patient history across various health interactions, it is no wonder that health care professionals are reluctant to jump on board and embrace this exciting yet uncertain future.

The question then becomes: what can we do to accelerate the adoption rate of new healthcare technology and systems in order to make record keeping and retrieval easier for everyone?


About Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional, adjunct faculty for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT topics that keep him up at night.

Am I in Heaven Yet?

shutterstock_127066418Cloud computing has been a buzz-word for a number of years now. Perhaps because it is such a nebulous/ethereal term (cloud?) that has been used to describe a number of different configurations and scenarios. You are most likely using some sort of cloud computing already but it is worth asking the hard questions to make sure you have the basics covered.


Cloud computing refers simply to the fact that your application or data is no longer on a computer that you can touch. It is hosted in a remote computer room in another city, another, state, or another country. In the “cloud”. What brought about this change, and why haven’t we always done it this way? One of the big reasons is the rising abundance and speed of networking. It used to be that your computer or terminal was tied directly to the computer in the computer room. Through better networking technology, the machine in the computer room and the computer in your hands became further and further separated until it was no longer necessary to have a dedicated room in every building. Better network security schemes has also increased this geographic gap.

Is cloud computing all tea and roses or are there still some lingering concerns? Think about these issues when creating or expanding your cloud computing strategy:


If you contract with a large service provider such as Google or Amazon or IBM to host your application or data, your confidential information will be sitting in the same data center as another customer or perhaps even your competitor. Is the “wall” around your data secure enough to keep your information confidential. When your information is traveling to and from the data center over the network, is it secure? Has it been encrypted for the trip? Do you trust all of your information to the cloud or just the non-critical pieces?


Is your application and data usage large enough to warrant cloud computing? If you are a small company or non-profit agency, the setup for hosting your applications and data may swamp your entire IT budget. Some application service providers only cater to large customers with millions of transactions per month. If you don’t fall into that category then perhaps your IT person is just what you need. At the other end of the scale, some small companies or agencies use free services such as Dropbox or Google Docs. If this is the case, then check your assumptions about security.


Some applications such as customer relationship management (CRM) or simple e-mail or backups may be easily offloaded to another provider. Other applications may be complex or proprietary to the point where it makes more sense to keep them closer to the vest. They might still be a candidate in the future as you peel back the layers of legacy and move toward standard applications.

These are all questions to consider when formulating your cloud computing strategy. It can be a real cost savings to offload your computing to another provider but without careful consideration, it can become a complexity you did not bargain for. What keeps you up at night in terms of your cloud computing strategy?


About Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional, adjunct faculty for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT topics that keep him up at night.