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Three Steps to Strategically Manage Technological Innovation for Small Businesses

Technological innovation has greatly impacted our daily lives in recent years. iPads allow us to keep emailing while on the go, we tell Alexa to play music in the house, our grandparents now FaceTime regularly from Florida, and driverless vehicles take us where we want to go [1]. Innovation has even enabled those who were unable until now - ReWalk robotics allows paraplegics to walk [2], TV listening devices allow those with hearing loss to watch their favorite programs, and, most recently, scientists developed a device that helps a paralyzed man communicate through brain waves [3]. Many businesses were also forced to adapt during the COVID-19 pandemic to meet the needs of their secluded and distributed customer base. Restaurants shifted to delivery-only utilizing the recently developed food delivery apps like DoorDash and GrubHub [4], small businesses started leveraging customer relationship tools to engage and build their customer base, and many businesses pivoted production to...

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Addressing New Societal Expectations for Higher Education and Online Learning in the Post-COVID-19 Era

This article examines how people’s lives and work environments have been altered as a result of technology, how these advancements have altered societal expectations for higher education, and three solutions for colleges to address these new expectations. First, to survive the new normal, colleges must shift their student solutions and orientations to accommodate online learners. Second, faculty development must concentrate on training faculty to utilize online tools to teach. Third, institutions must better prepare students to be savvy virtual collaborators through online learning and to translate these new skills to the workforce. Finally, this paper uses the lens of the COVID-19 pandemic to present three strategies for achieving these solutions. 

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Self-Renewal: John Gardner’s Relevant Points about What Society and Education are Still Missing Today

In 1963, John W. Gardner penned a book that was both timely and prophetic. Self-Renewal is about the failure to change and the toll rigidity can have on society. Gardner says that in order to develop a thriving society, people must care, create spaces for adaptation to occur, and work to cultivate self-renewal in our citizens. This is a thought-provoking term. What does ‘self-renewal’ actually mean? Gardner shares steps for individuals, organizations, and societies to develop the capacity for self-renewal and points out the societal norms that oftentimes prevent this capacity.  Though this book was originally written over 50 years ago, its advice is perhaps even more relevant today. In the 1960s, scholars and thinkers discussed the impact that technology would have on the world. It was to be an impact that few could have predicted. Today, technology permeates every aspect of our lives, however, we must now consider the detrimental effects that technology has had on our society and...

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The Innovative Habit

This essay compares the act of innovation to the act of creativity and suggests that an innovative habit can be just as productive for businesses as a creative habit is for creatives.  Preface What does it mean to be a 'creative'?  Put simply, ‘creatives’ are people who create something to be appreciated in an artistic nature. The most obvious examples include a painter who paints, a writer who writes, a sculptor who sculpts, a choreographer who choreographs, or a composer who composes. Then, there are the tangent arts. Architecture, interior design, and movie production may be done in a style that evokes feelings, conjures memories, and makes connections for people. As eras evolve they bring creatives more medium possibilities. Web sites, virtual worlds, font creation, and app production can all be crafted with aesthetic appeal.  On a more personal level, creatives might be individuals who produce (or at least work on producing) as part of their existence to be fulfilled. A...

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Utilizing Data, Analytics, and Visualization in Organizations Today

I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Will Miller, Executive Director of Institutional Analytics, Effectiveness, and Strategic Planning at Jacksonville University, about utilizing data, analytics, and visualization in organizations today. Read more below. ------------------------- Leah: Hi Will! Thanks for joining me today. I'm excited to chat with you about how you utilize data in your role. First, can you introduce yourself to everyone and tell us a little bit about your everyday work? Will: My background is actually in Urban Studies & Public Affairs; my real interest in data came from spending time in graduate school and after working in political polling. That eventually expanded into doing survey work for the State Department in Pakistan and Central Asia. When I had an opportunity to move from faculty into higher education administration, I jumped at the chance. College campuses are treasure troves of data from all areas. Whether we are working out predictive models for...

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New Media as a Resource: How New Media is Helping People to Express Themselves and Gain Access to Educational Resources

Introduction Of the 6.5 billion people that inhabit our planet, each is an individual, yet despite their individuality, they are part of a broader collection of individuals formed into societies. Not all individuals in these societies have equal opportunities, however. In most cases, the effects of these unbalanced societies are binary- those with and those without. In many societies, stronger groups dominate in voice and thought: teachers vs. students, men vs. women, white vs. black, heterosexual vs. homosexual. Like most ecosystems, however, each member relies on others to contribute to the whole. When not all members are able to contribute or feel their voice is heard or valued, the effects can be detrimental to the entire society, as we will see.  In many instances, minority groups with a lack of opportunities are confined or marginalized by the societies in which they live. While those on the outside of this confinement enjoy the benefits of opportunities, those on the inside...

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Coaching Without the Title

I received a surprise text last week from a student I used to mentor. “Hey Leah, how have you been 😃 I just wanted to text you to let you know, I know you don’t work at X anymore but I just feel the need to tell you good news about my grades. I did so much better this last semester that I actually got off of academic probation and my GPA so far is 3.0. I decided to change my major from nursing to psychology and I love it so much. I’m aspiring to be a clinical psychologist. I’ve been doing so much research this past summer to expand my knowledge more and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. I miss you 😢” I reached back out to Ms. Mentee (a general title I’ll give her) and we met for lunch recently. She is doing fantastic and is excited to be in a major that fascinates her. I am so proud of the person she has become and astonished with the personal growth she achieved in such a short period of time. The backstory about this coaching relationship is that it almost never was. I wasn’t in...

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Learning to Leave During the Great Resignation

There is no doubt that the pandemic has taken a toll on businesses around the world. The economic downturn caused many companies to close up shop. Many leaders were so eager to return back to the way it once was and the vaccine offered so much hope. Many employers began to call employees back into the office. But this attempt communicated to many that their companies didn’t value their desires. The pandemic has given many employees some time to reassess their priorities. Many determined they want to avoid commutes; they want to spend more time with their family; they want to avoid office microaggressions and drama, and they want to continue to work from home. They realized they can be productive and do their work at home. After all, how many of us felt that, on some days, we commuted to work only to sit in front of a computer all day? Now, employers have another challenge on their hands. Workplaces are seeing a trend in employees quitting their jobs - by the masses. Experts are...

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What I’ve Learned about Academic Program Leadership

I am excited to start in a new position this week: Faculty Program Director for the new Organizational Leadership Program at Excelsior College. As I think about my approach to this position, I can’t help but recount the many fantastic program directors I have had the privilege of working with over the years and what I’ve learned from them. I have collaborated as a colleague in different capacities - onboarding faculty, starting programs, faculty and student issues, curricular revisions, strategic planning, accreditation, assessment, search committees, and projects. Although I was probably young in their eyes, I always appreciated how valued and trusted they made me feel, which gave me a unique vantage point into their world. Here are some of the many things I’ve learned.  https://youtu.be/rVkXZXOmnOE First, I’ll sum up what a chair or program director’s main duties have been in the institutions I have worked for. As head of a program, much of their time is spent on tending to student...

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‘Untainted’ Education’s Role in Basic Human Functional Capabilities: An Argument for Aristotelian Essentialism and Nussbaum’s Capabilities Approach with the Addition of an ‘Untainted’ Base Curriculum

Education is seen as a way out of many unfortunate circumstances as it reduces poverty and promotes growth. Individuals oftentimes find themselves without access to quality education, however. If an individual is hoping to flourish and advance beyond their current life circumstances, they should be given the option to discover education outside of traditional educational institutions. In order to have this opportunity, there are certain capabilities an individual must possess.  This essay will set out to examine the role an ‘untainted’ education might play in the ‘Basic Human Functional Capabilities’ and the effect it would have on an individual’s ability to discover an alternative means to education.

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Counting in Pictures

I have always loved to learn, particularly about history, technology, and science. These are subjects, however, that I did not do well in when I was a student, but managed still to keep an interest in. Some of the students around me lost their love of learning because they became jaded by the system of assessment that told them “you’re wrong and we’re right”. My frustration translated, instead, into a passion to change what education had become, “a crusher of lovers of learning”. For those who share my passion, we must look to the future and encourage endeavors that support ‘autodidacts’ like us.

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Leading by Example: Transformational Leadership through Modeling

Bernard M. Bass (1999) wrote, “the transformational leader inspires, intellectually stimulates, and is individually considerate of [followers]” (p. 9). Like Bass (1999), many have researched the topic of transformational leadership and its effects on followers. Transformational leaders are known for uniting individuals and supporting team members in a way that helps them to maximize their potential, specifically for the good of an organization. One way in which this type of leader “transforms” followers is through example. It is worth investigating this concept of ‘leading by example’. What specific actions, if any, can a transformational leader make to ‘model’ the type of outcome they wish to see in their followers.

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A Modular Approach to Building Resilience at a Small Institution

Using complexity theory, I closely examine the complex adaptive system of my own workplace, an undergraduate-focused, Jesuit, Catholic, small-sized, higher education institution in the Northeast. Perturbation has begun to emerge due to low enrollment, a decline in financial gifts, retirements, and resignations. These environmental challenges have had a significant impact on the day-to-day services offered at the institution, which are felt by staff, faculty, students, prospective students, and the greater college network, including alumni. With a lack of resources, the system can no longer operate as it has in the past. Some structures may have to be reconfigured in order to run more efficiently and place less strain on external resources. Simultaneously, some roles should be better channeled in order to dedicate talent and resources to the survival of the system. This reconfiguration and re-classification may alter the traditional structure of the institution, but it would help to create a more resilient system from which to evolve. As a leadership theorist, I propose that the College take a modular approach in order to create this more resilient system.

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Scripts, Narratives, and Metaphors in Informal Learning Spaces

This research will look specifically at the performance aspect of the expert and learner roles in the open learning space using an autoethnographic lens. One trait that makes the open learning space unique is that it allows individuals to shift into different roles if they so choose. In my case, I originally entered the open learning space as a learner, but I later shifted to the role of an expert. Though I didn’t gain an official title, community members responded to my performance. I will use my own observations from my experiences of performing in both roles, expert and learner, to examine how individuals in the space recognized that I was performing leadership. Drath’s (2001) three knowledge principles will serve as a framework to help me analyze how others recognized that leadership was being performed. I will also be examining my use of performance, narrative, and scripts to shift in and out of these roles. The purpose of this research is to apply the lens of performance discourse to my performance in the open learning space in order to examine how others recognized that I was performing leadership. 

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