Susan Grajeck: “ICT professionals everywhere learn by sharing their knowledge and experiences”

Susan GrajeckEDUCAUSE's vice president for data, research, and analytics, Susan Grajek is one of the key speakers of the plenary sessions of TICAL2015, that will be carried out in Viña del Mar (Chile) from July 6 to 8, 2015. We spoke with her about her future participation in the Conference, check out what she said.

Five questions to: Rodrigo Padilla, Ecuador

rodrigopadillaTICAL2015 is fast approaching and in our series "Five questions to" we follow talking about the conference with those who were prominent assistants in the previous editions of the event. The interviewed of the week is the ecuadorian Rodrigo Padilla, who participated in all four editions of TICAL. Systems Engineer at the University of Cuenca, Padilla will also participate in 2015 and tells us a little about his experiences in the past versions and about your expectations for the edition to be held in July, in Viña del Mar, Chile

Hello, Rodrigo. Tell us a little about you and your formation.

Hello! I am a Systems Engineer, with a postgraduate degree in IT Management, Education and University Management. For 20 years I have been working on ICT management for universities in Ecuador. I worked eleven years in the Salesian Polytechnic University, a private university that has offices in several cities across the country. For nine years I’m working at the University of Cuenca, a public university that gives great emphasis to the research. These two experiences have allowed me to be part of many processes experienced by the universities in our country, many of which were based on the use of ICT.

What was your first contact with the advanced networks and how do you evaluate its development since then?

At the University of Cuenca I was delegated by the Rector to represent the institution in the directory of CEDIA (Ecuadorian Consortium for Advanced Internet Development), in 2007. Since then, I am very interested in the strengthening of a network that supports research in the country. CEDIA was not only a technical network of high-speed Internet, but also a collaborative network in which we participate in experiences and joint projects.

To name a few examples, in Ecuador, CEDIA has, for several years, a single Internet contract with the ISP to supply the institutions that are members of the Consortium. This gives us an economy of scale to keep better prices and new services. Other examples are the CEPRA and CECIRA programs, which are funding programs for research and training projects, respectively, and which are also part of CEDIA. These funds are based on the use of the advanced network and on the collaboration between various institutions, that are prerequisites for the approval of projects.

In short, in the last years CEDIA maintained a significant development both in its services and in its internal organization, being, today, an important pillar for the development of the scientific research in the universities and research institutions of Ecuador. At the regional level, CEDIA was part of large collaborative projects, and in some of them was an example of collaboration and participation.

In a context like this, what is the importance of TICAL for the development of the networks and the professionals in the field of ICT?

TICAL began its activities aiming to enhance the sharing of experiences and collaboration. In recent years, the Conference has grown in participation. In 2014, more than 500 professionals met to share and discuss issues related to the ICT in the universities.

These technologies need to be used in a better way, in order to be important assets in education and research. The collaborative use of resources, the optimization of costs and the integration of ICT in the management of universities will lead to the strengthening of research; this is where TICAL facilitates the development of these initiatives. The presentation of projects developed in several universities in Latin America and in the world that are attending the conference may serve to initiate collaborative processes and to quickly improve the ICT in our institutions. On the other hand, the joint participation with providers of technologic products and services facilitate the exchange of ideas directly with these large distributors.

For the ICT professionals, TICAL is a space to learn from other experiences and create new bonds with people related to this context. The event will allow us to acquire new ideas to facilitate the integration of ICT in the management of institutions.

You participated in all four editions of TICAL. What lessons did you take from these different experiences?

In 2011, when the Conference was launched in Santiago, there was great expectation by part of a small group of ICT professionals from various universities; group of which I had the opportunity to take part. The TICAL that year was held in Panama City, where there was a significant participation. The expectation that group has spread and is now felt by many people related to the use of ICT in Latin American universities. That year, I learned that initiatives such as TICAL, with clear and ambitious purposes, can be achieved. On the other hand, I could see that the problems that the universities in our region are facing in the field of ICT are very similar.

The TICAL2012 was held in Lima and the subject of Government and Governance of ICT has generated great interest. We talked about products or services that can be implemented in universities, but also about the need to implement an ICT management model to carry out the interinstitutional objectives of the universities. I can also point out the participation of several rectors who discussed precisely about the management of ICT in universities.

In 2013, the event, held in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, gained more strength with the participation of over 400 participants from all over Latin America and other countries of North America and Europe. I point out the cooperation between the various institutions for the development of projects and the interest and participation of the distributors of products and ICT services. The panel discussion that included the participation of several companies in the sector was also important because it allowed us to analyze the trends of the area and the points of view of each of the exhibitors.

Finally, in 2014, in Cancun, TICAL had an impressive participation. A total of 40 works of excellent quality were chosen from over 150 papers submitted for presentation. In TICAL2014 we had a demonstration of the potential for collaboration and for the continuation of the sharing of experiences developed in the universities.

Personally and professionally, what are your expectations for TICAL2015? And why Ecuadorians should participate?

In a "mutant" context like ours, with the evolution of ICT, the dynamism of the universities and of the countries in Latin America and in the world, as well as the increasing possibilities of telecommunications and collaboration, the use of ICT is necessary as the basis for quickly achieve the goals of the universities. Thus, TICAL2015, to be held in the beautiful city of Viña del Mar, should consolidate the collaborative spaces to the creation of interinstitutional projects that save time and resources of the universities.

On the other hand, the creation and management of large repositories of information (Big Data) that allows us to have accurate and timely information, to analyze trends and facilitate the taken of decisions by the directors of the institutions, is an issue that should be reviewed at the Conference .

The ICT Ecuadorian professionals should be present in TICAL2015 to be part of the global debate about ICT in the universities, to hear in first-hand what the universities are doing through selected presentations, and to provide and be part of collaborative networks that can widen their vision of solutions that should be implemented in their organizations.

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