I always find it interesting when I get an email from someone asking for my advice on something that I really don’t know much about. Typically it is for an esoteric slice of information technology that isn’t really in my wheel house. I usually oblige, but I don’t always feel like it was really worth the oxygen utilized to provide it.
What I do love, however, is getting contacted out of the blue by students with ideas and a request for advice. The other day a student emailed me out of nowhere to ask if I would provide some advice on a start-up idea he is working on. He is particularly interested in how CIOs and Universities in general make buying decisions when it comes to products and services. I was happy to find a 30 minute slot on my calendar to talk to him. I shared the typical things around integrations, privacy, security, accessibility, and various other things as examples of how we make decisions. He was appreciative.
Then I asked him his pitch … and it was a really smart service that I would look at bringing on a campus. It doesn’t exist today, but it was the kind of stupid simple idea that fills needs that students have that we as adults don’t think about. I mean, it is something that solves problems on campus and in classrooms that I remember struggling with. Back when I was going through college, there weren’t mobile apps that allowed me to connect to classmates in a way that could support my learning. What I am amazed at time and time again as I go through my career in higher education is that our students are amazingly smart, articulate, and have solutions to problems that I wouldn’t be able to think about solving. I hope it goes well and that I get to sit across the table and negotiate a license.