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    Technology and the University

    I recently came across this article titled 'Fluid Learning' - from the human network blog that makes some very interesting and provocative predictions about the future of higher education. This is a fairly long article, but definitely worth a read, I feel. Essentially, the author asserts with the increasing use and utility of social networking, crowdsourcing, and instantaneous collaboration and communication that the very concept of the University is under threat. In this new world, the University ceases to maintain the advantage in organization of resources and capacity, and rather like-minded students could and will band together in sort of a 'knowledge-seeker' marketplace to identify their needs and universities, or even individual instructors would bid to supply their services.

    I am not really sure of all that, but there are some specific recommendations in the article that I do happen to agree with. Namely, the importance of sharing and making available content from classes in as many forums as possible. Class lectures, materials, presentation slides, etc., not only should be made available on YouTube, SlideShare, iTunes etc, but you should also actively promote this, from the article 'You should trumpet their existence from the highest tower.'

    The argument is that the more widely something is shared, the more valuable it becomes. 'You extend your brand with every resource you share. You extend the knowledge of your institution throughout the Internet. Whatever you have – if it’s good enough – will bring people to your front door, first virtually, then physically' - Fluid Learning.

    I post any slides I use in class on SlideShare, once I figure out the best way, I want to get the class transcripts posted online somewhere (probably on some kind of 'open' wiki'), and I really want to get the classes recorded and have video posted one day. So I find myself in agreement with most of the author's assertions regarding openness. In fact just today, I corresponded with a recent HR graduate and directed her to my SlideShare space to learn a little bit more about my class, and told her about the class and the program via Twitter. She may or may not be interested in enrolling in our program, but it seems more likely to me that she would choose to enroll if 'real' content was more readily available on the internet.

    I think that schools and instructors would benefit greatly from more openness, more sharing, and more real connecting with both current and potential students in the new technology frontier.

    And to back up what I just said, here are the Week 1 and 2 presentation decks from my current class, enjoy!






    Hi Santa

    Hi Santa
    Originally uploaded by steveboese

    Time to make your HR Technology Christmas list?

    This year I am asking Santa for the following:

    1. More vendors willing to donate use of software for my HR Technology class, (thanks once more Halogen Software, SpectrumHR, and Standout Jobs).

    2. More students, faculty, colleagues on Twitter, and seeing the value of this platform - follow me - Sbjet

    3. Help to make this blog a better resource for students and others who care about HR and Technology.

    4. Some more converts in the internal organization to 'modern' tools and technologies to facilitate collaboration, sharing, and connecting.

    That is not too much to ask I think. 

    And really, I made this post to test the automatic feed of the Santa pic from Flickr over to the blog.  Absolutely awesome functionality.

    What is on your wish list for HR Technology?



    Corporate Recruiting Site Shootout

    This week in my HR Technology class we conducted the extremely subjective and un-scientific First Annual Corporate Recruiting Site shootout.

    The contestants were:

    Hyatt Hotels - Explore Hyatt

    ConAgra Foods - Careers

    Kraft - Jobs

    Neiman Marcus - Careers

    The class was split up into groups of three or four, and asked to find, then evaluate the company's job site on several criteria:

    1. Ease of use

    2. Ability to find information on company values and culture

    3. Presence of real employee testimonials

    4. Interactivity and 'connection'

    5. Overall experience

    Each group took about 20 minutes or so to find, then dive in to their assigned company to get a feel for the job site and make some observations.  Each group then presented their company's site to the class, highlighting the good and bad points they found.

    Some key observations:

    Three of the four sites presented the prospective candidate some difficulty in either finding open jobs, navigating various aspects of the site, or learning about the company culture.

    Two of the sites presented fairly serious errors, some 'Page not found' or some instability in the browser as a result of way too much Flash content trying to execute.

    One of the sites revealed a jarring distinction from a fairly well-done and slick 'corporate info' section, to a stark, ugly 'Applicant Tracking System' front page.  Honestly, if not for one tiny logo on the page, the 'job search' page could have been from any random company.

    Of the four corporate sites reviewed, ConAgra Foods was the clear winner.  The navigation was clean, the information was easily found, there was content in all the key areas, job families, employee testimonials, etc.  In addition, other aspects of the ConAgra site were informative and entertaining, likely inceasing the time spent by prospects with the site.

    The job seach process was simple and error free.

    Great job ConAgra Foods.

    Perhaps companies should do more 'real user' testing of their corporate job sites, I would imagine the folks from Hyatt, Neiman Marcus, and Kraft may be surprised to find out what real candidates may think.



    Wordle - Word Clouds in 30 seconds

    Happy Monday! Was messing around with Wordle again, and so check out the latest creation, created in 30 seconds from the blog RSS feed:

    The Sacred Cow and HR Technology

    The single most influential book I read in college was from my Sociology 101 class.

    The book was 'Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches: The Riddles of Culture' by Marvin Harris.


    From the summary on Amazon:

    This book challenges those who argue that we can change the world by changing the way people think. Harris shows that no matter how bizarre a people's behavior may seem, it always stems from concrete social and economic conditions.

    The most memorable passage, I recall, was the observation that if a starving Hindu farmer relented, and slaughtered the family cow, that while he would temporarily improve his family's hunger and other conditions, he would almost be certainly sealing his doom, since the cow (when alive) provided so much more than a few cuts of beef (most importantly the potential to breed and produce another cow).

    Over time, the sacred cow metaphor has come to stand for unquestioning adherence to an organization or ideology or process.  Something that is so entrenched in mindset, that it sort of perpetuates on and on, whether or not it still makes sense or adds value.

     How does the sacred cow analogy tie back to HR and in particular HR Technology? 

    Well, do you post every one of your job ads in the exact same manner and on the exact same job sites?

    Do you continue to have employees provide feedback and questions on HR programs to a single 'general' e-mail address, viewable by only internal HR staff?

    When pursuing technology projects to increase automation and improve efficiency, are you really just taking a old, long paper form and 'webifying' it?

    These are some of the most challenging economic times in memory, can you afford to cling to your own Sacred Cows, or do you need to think about and explore opportunities for improvement.

    I am running an experiment right now, designed to help show how changing things up from the standard is a good and necessary idea - this is a link to one of our open engineering jobs, the job has been open for a while, and for whatever reason we can't get it filled.  Take a look, pass it along, lets see if 'advertising' the opening in non-traditional ways leads to a better result than the same old methods we have been using forever - Engineering Job.