The University of Montana

Technology and the final four

In Governance, Innovation, Leadership and Management, Policies, Strategy on April 22, 2010 at 10:39 am

Governor Brian Schweitzer announced the final four cost savings ideas submitted by Montana citizens this week. Three of the ideas selected by the governor call for reductions in technology spending.

The tech targets are:

  1. Extend computer replacement cycles from four years to five. The entry also suggests that laptop computers are more expensive than desktop computers, and that perhaps departments could implement a shared laptop pool.
  2. Stop subsidizing Blackberries.
  3. Consolidate servers and data centers to reduce electrical consumption.

The fourth idea was to reduce the number of vehicles the state keeps in its motor pool, and to encourage employees to drive their own cars for work-related trips.

The release from the Governor’s office says that more than 1,000 ideas were submitted as part of the Montana Accountability Partnership. It doesn’t say how the four finalists were selected, but if there is a strategy beyond saving money, that strategy appears to be to stifle mobility.

Meanwhile, the New Media Consortium has released its 2010 Horizons Report highlighting emerging technologies that will have the biggest impact on higher education. Number one on the list is—you guessed it—mobile computing.

The report says this about mobile computing in higher education:

“People expect to be able to work, learn, and study whenever and wherever they want to. Life in an increasingly busy world where learners must balance demands from home, work, school, and family poses a host of logistical challenges with which today’s ever more mobile students must cope.

“. . . virtually all higher education students carry some form of mobile device, and the cellular network that supports their connectivity continues to grow. An increasing number of faculty and instructional technology staff are experimenting with the possibilities for collaboration and communication offered by mobile computing. Devices from smart phones to netbooks are portable tools for productivity, learning, and communication, offering an increasing range of activities fully supported by applications designed especially for mobiles.”

It’s great to ask citizens for ideas to make government better. It’s also great to make policy decisions grounded in the realities of today and with an eye on the future.

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