[Update: Am I prescient or what? Inside Higher Ed just published an article about the battle going on at the federal level over which accrediting agencies are deserving of recognition.]
In his book (which I highly recommend) “What Would Google Do?,” Jeff Jarvis introduces a theme that runs throughout his discussion of how the Internet is fundamentally reshaping the world: “Protection is not a strategy for the future.” The most au courant example of this unwise strategy (which we can watch failing in real-time) is the newspaper industry, but there are plenty of others littering the info superhighway:
“How many companies and industries fail to heed the warnings they know are there but refuse to see? The music industry is, of course, the best example of digital dead meat. Detroit waited far too long to make smaller cars and pursue electricity as a fuel. Many retail chains opened stores online but stopped there, not seeing opportunities to forge new relationships with customers as Amazon had. Telecom companies were blindsided by the emergence of open networks that undercut their business – even as those networks operated on the telecom companies’ own wires. Ad agencies kept trying to forestall the reinvention of their industry, still buying mass media evn as more targeted and efficient opportunities grew on the internet. News executives thought they could avoid change and even believed they should be immune from it because they were the holders of a holy flame: Journalism with a capital J. [...] They lost their destinies because they wanted to save their pasts.”
As I read this section, it occurred to me that even the non-profit sector is not immune from the threat of an inclination toward protectionism. For colleges and universities, protectionism takes the form of accreditation.
UPDATE: Text messages reduce the spread of norovirus at Hope College
Posted By: Joshua Aldredge Posted By: Chris Fleszar | WZZM13 | December 5, 2008
HOLLAND, Mich. (WZZM) A text message proved effective in alerting thousands of students about last month’s norovirus outbreak at Hope College. Hope College officials informed the Health Department they had a database that contained all of the students email and tex messaging addresses. 3600 students were notified at once. Students were asked via text message to reply to an email detailing their symptoms and how long they were ill. The Health Department says in the end about 540 students responded. Officials say the information was crucial for determining a plan of action and slowing the spread of the virus. [Source...]
It should be noted that Grand Rapids Community College was the first college or university in West Michigan to offer emergency SMS text messages to students and employees. Years later, a temporary CIO for the college staffed by a consulting firm learned that the college had been doing this and called it “the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of.”
Fortunately the college did not take his advice to drop the text messaging service it offers (but instead has invested in a more robust system which now serves over 4,500 users).