All posts by Cathy Finn-Derecki

Comment on cri de cœur by Cathy Finn-Derecki

Boy, I’ve had opinions about this for years, having spent done hard time in the bowels of these systems, trying to get them to play nice with the open web. In my opinion, these central student/faculty systems needs simply be comprised of:

1) An api that provides API access to faculty and student names, contact info, and course lists.
2) An authentication/security infrastructure that protects student data to satisfy FERPA and authorizes app connections with keys, just like in the grown-up world.
3) A set of business objectives and security standards for each tool that is to be developed on the API.

In-house or professional developers can design best-of-breed flexible open source tools for each of the business functions that require that data as a scaffold. If they want to monetize, monetize. If they want to share openly, share openly. But the applications have to address the person’s interaction with the information NOT the lumbering servers and Rube-Goldberg-like backend systems stitched together from the relics of the mainframe era. The cream would rise to the top, and sink when it no longer works, when someone designs something better. The innovation would be forward-facing. Every university should have an open source team that works to build business apps with an eye towards usability rather than generating ERP customizations of the “rearranging-chairs-on-the-Titanic” variety.

Then again, I don’t run the world, and the world, unfortunately, loves the solidity and associated informational constipation known as “ERP systems.” I understand that the world also likes Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.

Gardner, thanks for reminding me of why I left higher ed :) Love you.