Next week, the annual CANHEIT conference kicks off at UNB in Fredericton – and while there will be plenty of east coast charm to welcome delegates, it’s the conference program that will really make the CANHEIT experience meaningful.
Wayne Hansen is Student Technology Manager at UNB Saint John. He’s also a contract academic for the university’s Faculties of Arts and Computer Science. He has served on the CANHEIT program committee before, but this year was his first as Program Co-Chair – alongside his colleague, Peter Jacobs, UNB ITS’s Director of Research Support Services.
“Over the last couple of years, we’ve really seen the CANHEIT program put technology into a broader context,” Wayne said. “It’s clear CANHEIT attendees are thinking about how IT impacts faculty members and students. It’s nice to see the realization within IT departments that technology is having a broad effect.”
He says part of what makes this year’s program special is that the program committee gave presenters lots of freedom in selecting their specific presentation topics.
“By looking at the EDUCAUSE Top 10 Trends and past CANHEIT programs, and by drawing from discussions at CUCCIO members meetings, we narrowed in on seven streams, but within those streams, we really gave folks a blank slate,” Wayne said. “Because we took such a high-level approach, it gave presenters lots of leeway, and as a result, this year’s program has great representation across geography and disciplines. It’s one of strongest programs I’ve ever seen.”
One topic Wayne says features prominently throughout the program is security.
“From assessing threats and risks in post-enterprise environments, to an information security panel, to developing secure web applications and more, the security stream is really strong, with representation across the country from many institutions,” he said. “It’s a really hot issue right now.
“We’re also seeing a major emphasis on technology’s impact on teaching and learning,” Wayne continued. “We often talk about service delivery, and various aspects of technology through an IT lens, but this year, for perhaps the first time, there’s a really strong teaching and learning component.”
Wayne says it’s great to see a growing number of presenters come from positions outside the traditional IT department. To him, it means that a growing population is interested in issues that were perhaps previously relevant only to IT professionals.
“The category with perhaps the most sessions is the ‘ever-changing technology’ stream, which looks at where technology is now, and where it is going,” he said. “It will be interesting to see where people take it – from digital convergence, to using a book club to support organizational change, to seven IT ideas to change the world, to really technical talks on things like addressing IPV6. It just goes to show that IT is evolving, and that people on the ground are thinking about it.”
Wayne says that’s what CANHEIT is all about: identifying what is foremost on the minds of Canadian higher ed IT community members, and then providing an environment for engagement.
“It’s all about identifying what the trends are and making sure you capture them, without being afraid of stepping outside the comfort zone and giving presenters freedom to get creative,” he said. “CANHEIT is doing a great job of giving people a forum through which to discuss what is important to them.”
Visit the complete CANHEIT 2015 program.