Monday, December 12, 2016

Interview with an Ed Tech Energizer Bunny - Amir Dabirian

At the invitation of Adobe Education, I attended the Educause Annual Conference this year and did a quick series of interviews about the education work that Adobe is doing.

For my second interview, I met for the first time (and was totally impressed with) Amir Dabirian, Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer at California State University, Fullerton (CSUF). Amir is himself a non-stop learner: he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from California State University, Fullerton; he also earned a Master of Science degree in electrical engineering there, and a Master of Science degree in computer science from University of California, Riverside; AND he is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Industrial Marketing from Luleå University of Technology.

Amir moves about a mile a minute, and is having a huge impact on learning technology innovation in the higher ed world, transforming CSUF into a model 21st-Century learning environment that is secure and sustainable. Under his leadership, starting in December 2010, CSUF was the very first California State University campus (and one of the first institutions of higher education in the country) to invest in an Adobe Enterprise agreement for Creative Suite. Amir then advocated passionately to his peer CIOs in the system his vision for getting digital tools into the hands of not just his faculty and staff at Fullerton, but to all CSU campuses and--more importantly--into the hands of the students. 

Here's the quick interview I had with Amir (notes below):

Interview Notes (with time marks):

00:50 Why was it so important to get digital tools into the hands of students?
01:00 Student success a key driver.
01:30 40,000 students, digital literacy tools available to all of them.
02:00 The tools available today are game-changers. His passion is to make the tools available to all students.
02:45 High-impact practices are when students are involved and engaged in the learning process.
03:30 Differences between student and faculty responses to adopting tools. Student working with teachers become more engaged in the classrooms.
04:05 Change isn't easy in institutions.  What was your approach? The value of having the tools available.
04:55 You have got to make it easy.
05:50 Important that you adopt at all levels:  top-down, side, and bottom-up. You need everybody on the same page to adopt these tools to make an institution-wide commitment.
06:30 The tools are great, but it is the people that make it work.
07:00 Helping other campuses to follow the process.
07:35 You have to be committed to student success, and have the technology and people work together to make it work.

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