Information Systems

Tech Talk

  • IS Staff Changes

    Posted August 26, 2015

    The new school year brings some IS staff changes you should know about.

    Adding a second person for tech support at Earl Shapiro Hall has always been part of a larger plan for IS, and we’re delighted it could happen this year. HC Technical Support Specialist Sarah Drehobl has been assigned to join Louis Coronel at ESH. Her excellent troubleshooting skills should bring more balance to Louis’ role in tech integration and professional development support.

    Eric Schmidt has been hired as the new Instructional Technology Specialist in the World Language Lab. replacing Colin Warren. Eric comes to us from the Livonia, MIchigan public school system, where he has worked as a teacher and technology specialist for ten years. He’ll be starting September 1st.

    Gerardo Galvan will join the Help Desk team on the Historic Campus as a Technical Support Specialist, starting Monday. Gerardo brings several years of computer and audiovisual support experience at the Spertus Institute, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, and Columbia College, where he was the Coordinator of Latino Cultural Affairs.

    We are still working on filling the Data Systems Analyst position vacated by Phillip Thomas’ absence and hope to have a candidate in place soon.

  • Welcome Back!

    Posted August 26, 2015

    All of us in IS extend a hearty welcome back to those who take summers off! We hope you return rested and refreshed, ready to tackle the new school year with all the vigor and creativity our wonderful students deserve.

  • We’re Moving, Like Tomorrow

    Posted August 26, 2015

    It’s IS’ turn to do what so many others at Lab have done in the past couple of years: move. On Thursday and Friday, August 27-28, we’ll be moving to Belfield 134, formerly the band room. On those two days, we will only be available to respond to the most urgent requests for tech support. In addition to moving ourselves that day, we will also be assisting with at least 9 other moves, so time will be extra tight. We should be up and running as usual (or as close to it as we can come) by Monday, Aug. 31st. The usual methods of contacting us for help will not change, only our physical location.

  • A Plea for Patience: Semper Gumby!

    Posted August 26, 2015

    The IS team is committed to getting everything done that is asked of us. At the same time, the level of demand for IS services has reached epic proportions as we prep two buildings for renovation, open a brand new building loaded with new technology, and relocate for just the second time in 17 years (anyone remember the Lillie House days?). We gently ask for an extra measure of patience during this peak time. We know things will settle down somewhat in the weeks ahead, but the next three weeks or so will be especially challenging. Thanks.

    Some of us have adopted the slogan “Semper Gumby” to remind one another about the need for constant flexibility when there are are so many variables to consider on the big projects in process. You can read about this slogan on Curt’s most recent blog post.

  • Computing Capital Expenditures: Call Will Come Out Sept. 21

    Posted August 26, 2015

    You may recall that Curt shifted the timing for the computing capital expenditure process from last winter to this fall (and boy is he glad he did). A/V requests were already gathered last spring. The call for those requests will be coming out September 21, so you may want to start thinking about this and talking with your principal or supervisor about requests that, if approved, would return demonstrable value to the Schools’ instructional or operational programs.

DIT Bits Blog

  • Leadership 101: Avoiding the Bermuda Triangle

    09/17/2015 10:24 AM

    One of the most basic skills any leader with any hope of success needs to master is avoiding triangulation. You know the scenario: an issue arises between Party A and Party B. Party A goes to a third party to complain about Party B.

    The third party intervenes and talks to Party B, often with good intentions, or because they think it's their job, or they don't realize what's about to happen. Party B then complains about Party A to the third party, and things deteriorate rapidly as all three parties enter the Bermuda Triangle where effective communication goes to die.

    The only way to avoid triangulation is to ask a simple question when Party A wants to involve you as the third party: "Have you talked with Party B about these concerns? I suggest you do so, honestly and candidly, and then let me know how that turns out." Then you smile, turn, and walk away.

    That's it. So simple, yet over and over again, I see smart, talented people walk right into the Bermuda Triangle time and again, and I really can't understand why. My best guess is that they are just not comfortable thinking about the potentially uncomfortable conversation Party A and Party B might have when they sit down together, so they try to grease the wheels so the uncomfortable conversation never happens. That's a shame, for it's most often the case that getting to the bottom of an issue requires people to be uncomfortable while they figure things out.

    if you are party A, don't go to a third party. Go the source. Stop the game before it starts, and begin with a "help me understand" approach. You may have to do this a couple of times before you start to get results. If your repeated efforts are ignored or otherwise unsuccessful, then you may need to engage a third party (more on this below).

    If you are party B, and a third party tries to engage you on behalf of Party A, refuse to play the game. Simply say, "I'm sorry to hear Party A is having a problem that may involve me. I would like to speak with them directly and will contact them promptly to address this. Would you like me to let you know how that turned out?"

    Are there times when a third party should get involved in resolving an issue? Of course. If Parties A and B have made a genuine effort to resolve an issue but haven't been successful, then by all means intervene, but only to facilitate, preferably with both parties in the same room. Don't get caught running back and forth between the two parties; it implies an adversarial relationship between the parties that isn't healthy for the institution.

    You may also find recurring patterns of poor performance, unclear expectations, or institutional constraints that create conditions conducive to conflict. The right third party can bring a different perspective to such situations and help both parties understand the larger context that may be making communication difficult.

    Ultimately, what we want is for people to develop sufficient trust to enjoy healthy working relationships. That's not possible without a commitment to candor in our conversations with one another, even when it means agreeing to disagree or being uncomfortable while we work together to solve problems and clarify expectations. Most of the time, you can't and shouldn't outsource these conversations. We should all know by now what happens when you do.