Global Cultural Competencies Include Internet Culture

On Aug 15, the Pullman-Moscow Daily News ran the editorial below referring to WSU’s John Gardner and aligning WSU priorities with the economic goals of the state. Without citing it, they seemed to be generally responding to his blog post Universities and Economic Development.

Its nice that the local paper has decided to enter the conversation with the Vice President about university priorities, but given the goal of WSU’s President Floyd for increased Global Cultural Competencies, I think a little conversation about Internet Culture is in order.

Dr Gardner has begun to explore the role of blogging in the leadership of a major university. His blog has RSS and is open for comments (create an free account) and trackback, all signs of understanding Blogging Culture. The Daily News went online several years ago, but unlike global citizen The New York Times, the Daily News keeps it content, including its editorials, behind a login available only to paying subscribers. Comments are allowed (by subscribers), but there is no trackback or RSS. And unlike Dr. Gardner, the Daily News does not include links in its online content. Dr. Gardner is exploring what it means to be a node in an online conversation; the Daily News is acting like a broadcaster with proprietary content, a cultural faux paux in a read-write Web 2.0 world. (see Shayne Bowman and Chris Willis, We Media, (PDF) pg 57)

What I’d like to see on Dr. Gardner’s blog, a next step in acculturation, would be context, in the form of a blog roll. Who is he reading? Who provides the context from which his thinking springs. This is different from linking from within a post, where we see Dr Gardner’s synthetic thinking. I should blog roll better in my own blog, but, for example I point to Stephen Downes as a thinker I read on topics related to Web 2.0 and eLearning.

Reproduced for the benefit of furthering the conversation, the editorial appearing in Daily News 8/15/07 (login required)

OUR VIEW: WSU right to align its goals with those of state

BY Steve McClure, for the editorial board

Wednesday, August 15, 2007 – Page Updated at 12:00:00 AM

Nimble usually isn’t a word associated with universities. The procedures that drive institutions of higher education largely dictate that new initiatives and massive changes in direction take a little bit of time.

That will be one of the challenges confronting Washington State University’s new vice president for economic development.

John Gardner arrives from the University of Missouri with the task of aligning the university’s priorities with the economic goals of the state.

That’s a noble goal, and one universities in general should be mindful of.

Universities are a major component of economic development and economic success. In addition to providing a well-rounded education in the liberal arts, college graduates will be entering the work force at some point. Most graduate with the expectation that the skills they picked up in college will provide them with a leg up when it comes to employment.

At the same time, private businesses that support higher education through tax dollars should be able to expect the state’s universities to provide an educated work force. That hope is amplified by the need for a workforce educated in the skills employers are looking for.

If Washington needs nurses – and it does – that should be a skill available at colleges and universities. If economic forecasters are predicting a huge need for computer software engineers in the next five years, universities should be flexible enough to provide a pretty good chunk of home-grown talent.

Washington State doesn’t need to get into the business of providing a degree that only works at one company, but it should be dynamic enough that it can look into its crystal ball and anticipate the careers of tomorrow – and the skills students will be looking for when they complete their degrees.

Gardner already recognizes the initial challenge. His next hurdle will be implementing the changes within the university. We wish him luck.

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