Illumination by Modern Campus

#CIORadio | Tom Andriola (UC Irvine) on Making Digital Excellence Central to Institutional Strategy (live @ Educause 2022)

November 11, 2022 Modern Campus
Illumination by Modern Campus
#CIORadio | Tom Andriola (UC Irvine) on Making Digital Excellence Central to Institutional Strategy (live @ Educause 2022)
Show Notes Transcript

On today’s episode of the Illumination by Modern Campus podcast, EvoLLLution editor-in-chief and host Amrit Ahluwalia was joined by Tom Andriola to discuss how higher ed institutions need digital excellence to thrive in this rapidly growing and evolving digital world. This episode was recorded live at Modern Campus's Educause 2022 booth in Denver.

(00:06) Amrit Ahluwalia: Welcome to Illumination by Modern Campus, the leading podcast focused on transformation and change in the higher education space. My name is Amrit Ahluawalia, and I'm the host of the podcast and Editor in Chief of the EvoLLLution. In this episode, we kick off our CIO radio series where we speak with technology leaders about the trends and challenges reshaping our increasingly digital space. In today's episode, we speak with UC Irvine's Chief Digital Officer, Tom Andriola. This episode was recorded live at EDUCAUSE, and our conversation explored the increasingly critical role digital leaders play in the modernization of, let's be honest, largely change averse higher education institutions.

Tom Andriola, welcome to the Illumination Podcast. Thanks so much for taking the time out here. We’re recording live at EDUCAUSE ‘22 in Denver. Tom how's the trip in for you so far? How are you enjoying the conference. 

(00:59) Tom Andriola: You know, It's fantastic. One, it's great to be back out in person with all of our colleagues and that's just amazing. Denver's also an amazing city. I have friends here that I was able to wrap a personal visit around—seeing some old friends, so it's just been a great experience so far

(01:05) Amrit Ahluwalia: Absolutely. Well, I want talk a little bit about your role cause it's a unique title. You're the Vice Chancellor for Information Technology and Data and you're the Chief Digital Officer at the University of California at Irvine. What does a chief digital officer do?

(01:31) Tom Andriola: Yeah, well here was part of the genius. We wanted to create a role that was different. That was very much by design. It started with this conversation about the role of technology is transforming everything that we do. And we have to bring it back to the way we think about what we're going to be doing in the future. I was able to add the component of data. Cause, for me, technology is a data generation device. What we really make decisions on are data. And so data is the thing that's transforming the world; the way we work, the way we live, the way we interact with people. And so the vice chancellor role is understood inside of higher education. But the outside world understands the role like the chief digital officer. And so the university allows me to use both. 

So the way I describe what I do, it's like look, my job is to be a part of every conversation in our institution. Which runs from education, research, and how we care for patients. Making sure our strategies are infused with the role of technology, the role of data, finding ways to make those strategies unique and differentiating so that UCI stands out from the crowd. And then how can we do it through working with partners in the most cost-effective way.

So that's kind of the way I summarize what I end up doing at the end of the day. And again, the range of topics, especially in this post pandemic world, is just immense the number of conversations I get involved in.

(03:01) Amrit Ahluwalia: It's interesting as you frame out this idea of differentiation. From a digital perspective it really does feel like that's the core of where colleges and universities can start to differentiate themselves is we're in an increasingly digital world. What are some of the characteristics or the factors that you look at as being particularly differentiating in the capacity of something that a chief digital officer could influence?

(03:26) Tom Andriola: So the name of my podcast is called Digital Squared Life in an Increasing Digital World, our entire human existence is really being captured through data streams now—through digital technologies. One of the things I push is in every conversation is how are we thinking about things differently, now that we're capturing it more and more digitally? And let me give you a really simple example that I use with audiences. When I get up on stage and I do a presentation, in an analog world, I stand on stage, I talk, I use my body language, the audience sees me, reacts, it's an analog experience. 

But think about today's world, it's over zoom. You can basically capture a transcript of the words I've said, a video clip of how I use my body and my 43 facial muscles and a tonal wave file of the inflections that I use. Those are all data streams to me. I know of companies that are doing algorithmic predictive development on each of those three data streams. You put that together and you might find out that I'm a great communicator but I’m actually a closet depression sufferer. 

(04:40) Amrit Ahluwalia: Interesting.

(04:42) Tom Andriola: So you know, start putting an example like that of things that we allow our senses to do now being captured and now with the data stream that we can analyze, now, kind of apply that to everything that you're looking at. The student experience, what happens in the classroom? How do you correlate student activity and clubs with their academic performers, with the environment that they live in with whether they're eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep. Now you mash it together and you start to say we can understand this individual in a campus student context holistically. And we actually take that concept from healthcare where we're trying to understand the patient in a holistic manner. Not just what blood pressure is, but what genomics do they have, what type of environment, can they get to good food? So these concepts are kind of merging around an increasingly digital world.

(05:30) Amrit Ahluwalia: Well it's interesting you bring up healthcare because that's—in my preparation as I poked through your LinkedIn—it's fascinating. You've held IT leadership roles both in higher ed and the healthcare sectors. When we talk about a lot of conversations in higher ed technology, higher ed policy building, we tend to look at the healthcare industry as maybe a bellwether. So I'm just curious about your perspective on what are some of the similarities and differences that you've seen between those two spaces?

(05:58) Tom Andriola: Let me start with some similarities. One, people who decide to work in the industry are very mission driven. I mean they care about people getting great care and recovering. They care about social mobility. So people who are in the industry have a deep passion for the work itself. That is one of the things that is very much the same. A second thing is that in the case of healthcare, it's the doctor. In the case of university institutions, it's the professor. And this kind of power dynamic of the subject matter expert as really, really important to delivering value and then the supporting organization around it. And that power dynamic is something that we struggle with in terms of it's very entrenched into the, let's say the culture. But in this digital world it's balancing out because for example, technology professionals are now much more important to success of the mission of student success than maybe we were 15 years ago.

(07:03) So the power dynamic is something that exists in both industries. I think one of the things for me that is different in education is I think change is harder in education but for different reasons. I mean doctors work under this do no harm concept, but they all are always looking for a better way to see patients and they're very data driven around that. In higher education, when we tend to run into change resistance —to change in new concepts, it has to do with, well we've been around for 150 years, we're going to be around for 150 more. And so we don't have to be in a hurry to do things. However, I find that there's a lot of innovation at the edge in higher education. I mean, you know, find those faculty members who are pushing the boundary and doing things in the metaverse already. Or you go to the eSports complex and those are your metaverse students today that I think become the mass population of students that are going to be on our campuses in maybe five to seven years. So I think that the change is hard for both but for very different reasons.

(08:11) Amrit Ahluwalia: Well, that's fair. I want to follow up on that because it's a topic that we tend to come back to over and over again, as the EvoLLLution is a publication rooted in the continuing education space. That’s really where we came out of. In fact, the three L's in EvoLLLution stand for lifelong learning. It's really a focus of ours. Now podcast listeners have heard me give that little piece of trivia probably 10 or 11 times. So sorry guys. As one of the things that's unique about that space is it's where a lot of experimentation happens in the post-secondaries. It’s where certificates were really born there. It's where online education really got its root in the formal post-secondary space. One of the things I'm curious about is, as these little skunk work operations work around different parts of the campus, what does it take to bring that innovation to the core of what the institution does? How do you make that innovation start to progress? 

(09:06) Tom Andriola: It’s a great question and if anyone really had the formula for that, they would be making a lot more money than I would. I think it starts here. So I've had the good fortune in my career to work in different environments including different countries. And one of the things I always have picked up from those different experiences; start by immersing yourself in the new environment and listen a lot and pick up on signals that give you cultural insights. One of the phrases I learned in higher education when I came into it is let a thousand flowers bloom. Which is kind of a concept, especially research universities, where every faculty member is their own entrepreneur and you have to let the entrepreneurs do their thing. And so that's where this innovation that the edge really comes from is we don't try to manage innovation. We really try to plant a field of seeds and see which ones sprout.

(10:00) The part that I brought from with my corporate years of experience is, how do you take those innovations and take them to scale? That is really important in business, right? Cause you're always innovating in business but unless you can turn it into a hundred million dollar business or unless your Google can get it to 500 million users of it, it's not success. So I've always been tinkering with what's the formula to get from that edge innovation to use by maybe 30% of the enterprise. And then how do you get from 30 to 50, how do you get 50 to 70? How do you scale? And a lot of that is through basically collaborations and connections. Using the combination of human contact and digital tools to say how do you cross pollinate? 

Great example, just this last week is top of mind is we are using chat bots in terms of our student interactions around admissions and financial aid. They're very comfortable with that technology. I was talking about it in a forum and our human resources officer approached me and said I'd love to get connected to that group because we should be using chat bots for our employee communication for the repetitive questions. So there's an example of what I think is a core technology which is today, chat bots, tomorrow, digital humans. That is a core kind of horizontal technology for us. And my job is to figure out how we not only have two or three use cases but 20 or 30 use cases because that leverage makes us a more cost-effective organization. That's the cost effectiveness approach to my role. So there's some examples.

(11:35) Amrit Ahluwalia: No, absolutely. And it's kind of fascinating is when we talk about efficiency, people get very bored by the idea of efficiency. But it fascinates me because it's the idea of how do you allow people to maximize their time? How do you really put people in a position to spend energy and effort on the things that they really do as humans that shouldn’t be replicable? Efficiency becomes very magical when you start looking at it through that context. It’s how do you leverage technology?

(12:02) Tom Andriola: I won't out the institution, right? Cause this is kind of a scary concept right now to higher ed. But we were talking robotic process automation. Which I've been involved in on the healthcare side for a couple of years, have not really been able to find the inroad yet in education because people translate that into job loss, right? 

But I found a university that has got their first couple of use cases, and I was asking a lot about the experience. But there's a perfect example how much of even our white-collar work in information in industry work is really repetitive tasks, repetitive keystrokes. And we've got technology to take that work off of people's daily routines. And that would be a really good thing if for nothing else, the accuracy because we as humans make a lot of mistakes on repetitive tasks when they're mundane. So let's get the human out and let's reinvest that time into things that use the higher functions of our brain. Very, very logical. We all know the change management challenges are really different.

(13:05) Amrit Ahluwalia: Well I mean, what's kind of fascinating, is if you look at the McKinsey studies about the power of automation. Is they do highlight job loss as a concept. The jobs that are replaced by automation, it's about 12%. The stat that everyone keeps citing is 55%. 55% is paid work activities. And it's such an important difference to draw out because that's not to say that 55% of people are going lose their jobs. It means 55% of people's time is going be opened up to things that are specifically human relevant. That should excite everyone.

(13:44) Tom Andriola: Absolutely. Well and if you think about—because here's a place in the medical industry that we talk about it a lot. Which is those things that have to be documented and are now still done very manual in the form of fingers on keyboard—takes the doctor's focus away from the patient and to the keyboard and the computer. Patients tell us about the way they feel about that interaction that they're not being listened to. Why? Because the attention seems to be on the keyboard. Turn that into an automated way of documentation and all of a sudden, it's eye contact, it's watching body language, it's a better patient experience. I don't have right now the equivalent in the higher education space because the numbers are really different. It's one instructor to a hundred. But it's all about the personalized experience. While we’re getting all this technology, the places where we're really successful is when it gives us personalization and intimacy back.

(14:43) Amrit Ahluwalia: Yes, a hundred percent. So actually you've keyed on personalization, which is a trend that I'm fascinated by the concept. So what are some of the other trends you're watching? What are some of the things that are capturing your imagination?

(14:56) Tom Andriola: Yeah, I think one is I'm a big believer in dream big, step small. And so the concept is to me, education should be an end of one goal. Each student, we should understand them as an individual at the end of the day and their unique life experiences and circumstances as well as goals. And we should be trying to tailor what we do with them around those goals and those constraints or limitations or barriers that come with them. And so the concept, and if you go to consumer goods companies, I do some work with Mars, the candy company. Their understanding of customers about n equals eight. So for someone who buys peanut m&ms, they've got us kind of duck down to a subset of n equals eight customers profiled differently. 

(15:55) How did you get to n equals eight of an understanding students at a university? It's got 400,000 students, how much more personalized? And we're seeing this come in the form of students wanting optionality about how they consume their educational content, right? I still want go to class for some types of classes. Some kinds, I don't want to sit in a lecture hall with 500 other people cause that's very impersonal. So I'm fine just watching the lectures and when I've been out late with my friends on Thursday night, Friday morning, I want make the choice when that alarm goes off, right? So this is the type of one element of personalization. 

But what I'm talking about through data is really understanding individual holistically; what kind of background they came from, what kind of activities are they involved in? Are they a frequent user of library services? How much time do they spend in the LMS and what do they do in the LMS? And then really personalizing and understanding the unique learner and tailoring the experiences and the things that they get access to and how hard maybe they're nudged to helping them achieve the goals that they've set and then following that through their entire time with you at the institution.

(17:03) Amrit Ahluwalia: Absolutely. I mean that's fascinating because we're going to move to the concept of leveraging these kinds of strategies to drive student success. But one of the things that really stands out to me is this idea of the evolving role of the institution. We're no longer in an environment where a post-secondary institution can stand on a mountaintop. Or can perceive itself as being beyond your approach in terms of how students are being engaged with. It really is more of a partnership. So it feels like a progression towards this new vision of what a post-secondary institution's role can be in serving a learner as opposed to almost to a certain extent the learner being served by access to the institution.

(17:46) Tom Andriola: Yeah. We have a phrase which we we're still kind of tinkering on how we're going to land it. But especially as a research university with a highly selective student body that we've been able to filter coming in. Trying to, from a pedagogical perspective, move away from “weeding out” to a “no student gets left behind” mentality with how we do them. Because I really think that kind of using that marine concept of no soldier left behind—we've already kind of done the vetting as part of admissions. There shouldn't be another vetting process. 

And let's face it, too many of our students today are being pushed out of the major they wanted to study. In some cases we need more of in our economy, let's say engineering, sciences with what's going on in the world, we need to grow more at home. We need to stop weeding those students out into other majors and saying, Hey, we already know you are very capable. How do we help you get there? When you go to medical school for example, the goal isn't to throw you out of medical school. The goal is how to get you across the goal. Why are we not doing that in undergraduate education as well? 

We've been doing that from when I went to school, which I know your followers can't see me, but that was a long time ago.

(19:06) Amrit Ahluwalia: It's disastrous. But I'm fascinating by our progression towards more of a lifelong learning model and this idea that we do have a role to play in supporting learner success. Cause once we take that seriously, it really does start to position our industry in maybe a light. I keep up to date on the enrollment trends, and it's been a staggering couple of years. Has that touched you guys very much?

(19:33) Tom Andriola: Not really. I mean California is a unique case because we just have so many students who are in a position to go for higher education and they've got great options associated with them. We had roughly 120,000 applications for our school to attend this fall. So we're not seeing the enrollment challenge, but we are seeing what happens once we get in and how do we really change the mentality to making sure everybody gets out. Gets out sooner, gets out with a diploma, a set of really developed competencies for the workplace. I'm bit real big into real world experiences while you're a student. It was really impactful when I went through to have those, not just knowing a bunch of engineering contents and formulas and theories, but that I had applied it to something. It actually helped me want to be a better student.

(20:25) Then when I got to the workplace, I could explain how I could apply what I knew to solve problems that companies needed to solve. And that just makes you more valuable. When we talk to employers today, we talk to industry, the number one thing they want to talk about is the talent gap. They are struggling with the talent, holding it in, getting it up to speed. So there's a golden opportunity, I'm talking to a set of industry leaders in a few weeks to say this is not about job fairs anymore. That's dead. This is about an intimate connection inside. 

To your point, we're not up on the hill, we're down in the valley in the middle of town, inviting people to sit alongside us, partner with us. And I'm like, get a front row seat to these students. Invest into the real world experiences that they're getting. And oh by the way, when you do that, you will with that front row seat, you'll see and be able to talk and offer that suit and the job before anyone else in the marketplace sees them. That's differentiation. And that really resonates. And I know this because I was in industry for a while, I know what the talent challenge looks like.

(21:33) Amrit Ahluwalia: Well, it again, kind of comes back to this idea of is the institution a learning partner? And if you're a learning partner to the student, if you're a learning partner to the local community, to local employers, that's where you start to be able to create massive impact on socioeconomic growth, economic development, all these pieces of the mission that tend to be, they're in the strategic plan, but it can be challenging to actually start to execute on those ideas.

(21:56) Tom Andriola: Absolutely. And what's really cool for me in coming in this role that we created to take advantage of my experiences and my talents is I'm one that's very deeply involved in the work for our regional economic development initiative for our region. Who would think that the person who they think is the chief information officer would be involved in something like that? I am, because we have a chief information officer and he's really, really good at it. He's better than I would ever be at that role. 

But I'm sitting that level above saying strategically, technology and data are a great way for us to collaborate with the ecosystem that we sit with them as well as create new ecosystems. And so that's a concept we call the Collaboratories at UCI, which has done everything from build strategies to work with industry to develop new research institutes to driving our internal institutional transformation all through data.

(22:51) Amrit Ahluwalia: Absolutely. Well we've talked a little bit about personalization, we've talked about workforce alignment, we've talked about the institution as a learning partner. How else do you see the effective leveraging of data impacting student success and the student experience?

(23:04) Tom Andriola: My job is to ask the questions and try to push the conversation to points of being just uncomfortable enough that we can move the barometer. I mean for me it's coming back to this holistic understanding of our students. I believe that, and it doesn't necessarily have to be just with our students. I believe that connecting with people who want a higher education experience, we could connect with them and interact with them and start to understand them when some people think all the way to middle school. 

But let's say at least maybe two years before they actually attend an institution of higher education. So start interacting with a collection of starting to get to know them what their want, start to give them good quality information. So many students today just don't have good information about higher education. And so they get directed to a place that doesn't fit their needs or doesn't fit their wants.

(23:57) So start building that. When we finally get them into our environment, it's really to think about them as learners, as individuals trying to become more adult-like in their as social beings in terms of the community that there's involved in. The clubs and activities that they're involved in their interests. Getting back to overall student wellness. Student wellness is about my emotional wellbeing. Am I getting enough sleep? How am I eating, the balance that comes around, which sometimes there are things that happen to our students that are outside of things that we can control. 

But sometimes when we've got data streams that we're collecting on things because maybe they've access for certain parts of the campus that well wait a minute, this is a student that maybe needs help. I mean we’re taking a concept we were talking about this last week as well. It's like we have concepts in healthcare where we identify certain types of patient populations, chronic disease patients like hypertension and type two diabetes. And we know certain things that we can now capture through data if people aren't staying on their meds, which means they're higher probability of ending up back in the emergency room. That's a high-cost event. 

(25:18) So you identify, you stratify those groups and you actually reach out and ping with them. Sometimes it's a phone call. But now with smartphones, sometimes it could be in nudge with a text. So how do you take that concept and drop back to and identify what students are potentially kind of struggling? Can you see it through the data? Is it coming through data that we, from the learning management system and maybe it's something that's going on in the class and concepts that they're struggling with.

Is it things that everything looks like they're going to be a successful student, but there are things that are happening in student life that we can associate with it. How do we build the intervention points and write mechanisms? I think the texting and nudging thing has a lot of potential that's still yet untapped in the higher education environment. 

Whether it's to get them to do the right thing so they get to the grade they want in the class. But also maybe to just give them the idea that there are these services on campus that are available to them. Cause we find a lot of times, especially with first generation students and undocumented students, they don't even know what they don't know. So we have to be much more proactive if we're going leave no student behind. Much more proactive in reaching out and pointing those students in the right direction or to the service that could be of help to them. 

We were talking about this yesterday, just about, especially with undocumented students, literally it's human glue. They end up in our inclusive excellence office and then they call someone who get the student to the service. There's something to help them, but they just don't even know that it's there. So it's our obligation. Our students shouldn't have to manage our complexity. We need to simplify their world. And I think data's a key point to do it. 

(27:04) Amrit Ahluwalia: A hundred percent. What's kind of fascinating as you're kind of point as you're pointing out this bridge, so many of those spaces where there's room for innovation, room for growth tend to be in the parts of the institution that have always been considered “nice to have” a little bit peripheral. Not to disparage anyone because these are all areas that I passionately believe in. 

But when we're talking about student affairs, we're talking about continuing in workforce education, we're talking about website management and digital architecture design. These spaces that have been considered a little bit periphery to what the institution does or the spaces where the innovation is necessary to make sure that students have access to their services. We're starting to see that these services aren't nice to haves. These are critical to learn.

(27:51) Tom Andriola: Success and timeliness of them can be really important to help students.

(27:54) Amrit Ahluwalia: Right, absolutely. Well I want to shift gears a little bit because you've been obviously a major advocate for diversity, equity, inclusion initiatives of the past few years over the parts of your career. Can you talk a little bit about how this plays into your role as Chief Digital Officer? 

(28:08) Tom Andriola: I think it starts from having a diverse set of experiences that happen and living around the world. In its own way, being a minority. When you've lived through that lens you know start to think things differently when you come back in. Now, I usually start with, it's like, look when we talk about this topic, it's a tough topic for me because I represent every aspect of what people see as the problem. I'm white, I'm male, I'm in a position of authority, so I am the definition of privilege. I start there because it's like, look, here's one of the things that's really needed on this topic. People like me may need to lean in, not come to the meeting and just say a few words to kick things off and walk out. But stay there. Be a listener and a learner and a participator. That's really important for this project.

(29:04) I got brought in and I actually have mentors. So we talk about having mentors to help grow your career. I have a mentor to help me understand and be empathetic on this topic. And so our chief diversity officer plays that role for me. I have a faculty member who's very engaged with our student body. I sit with them in a mentoring capacity and just listen and learn and prepare myself to be the type of leader on this topic. Because much I don't think you can be a leader today and not be about the climate and sustainability. I don't think you can be a credible leader today for an organization and not have clear statements on what you're doing in this topic. So we have a very robust initiative for our institution. 

But within the piece that I control, which is the IT function across the university covers about 900 people. We have a portfolio—what I call our portfolio of initiatives underneath—that range from women in tech. Cause we've done a terrible job in tech traditionally around gender equity. We have things in the realm of climate. So essentially there's two parts of doing this. There is recruiting a more diverse set of candidates to join your organization. There's also ensuring that you have an inclusive environment so that your underrepresented groups don't leave you in greater percentages than your overall turnover rate. Right? If you have a turnover rate of 10%, which is not unusual in technology fields—actually most are 15, right? But let's say you're at 15%. But your people of color and women are leaving at a rate of 30%. You're losing ground against the battle. So we look at what's coming in and we look at the environment that we're creating.

(30:49) I also look at topics like IT accessibility as an inclusive excellence topic. Because really when we talk about inclusive excellence, which is what we call it at UC Irvine, it's really about underrepresented groups, minority groups, and ensuring that the environment includes them and that all access to people, services and benefits are of equally available to them. And so that's a group, for example, that I sponsor on campus. So we do lots of things. Our chief diversity officer launched something called Climate Councils that were mostly adopted by schools. In terms of bring this topic more to the forefront, I did it with IT as a horizontal. So IT teams are in the schools, they're in a central unit, they're over at the medical center. And so we talk about the climate that we're creating. We do climate surveys as well as employment engagement surveys. And we manage through our data. We look at how our metrics are changing. We look at what the surveys are telling us and we turn those into action plans. These are groups that I meet with every quarter just to say, How's it going? What are you trying to get done next? And where can my role help you get done what this group wants to be done? 

Here's a great story that we were run, I believe we were the first in the country to do this and EDUCAUSE put this on, did an article on this. We published an inclusive language guide for our community. We invited and shared it with anybody who wanted to read it. And it's a concept of words matter. Words can divide and create conflict. So let's be thoughtful around the words that we use in different contexts. And so, we had a group of people very passionate about this and I said, work as team, put together a point of view and some examples. And so we now have a guide that people can reference. It’s stop and think before you act. The word you choose could be one that creates conflict or harmony. That consciousness to every moment, to every action that we take is important in terms of creating a type of environment where everyone can be their best.

(33:03) Amrit Ahluwalia: That makes an absolute ton of sense. And I'm curious, as you look at the industry today. We’re at one of the leading conferences for seeing where transformation is going to happen. What are you most hopeful about when it comes to the future of higher education? And on the flip side, what kind of concerns you the most? What's keeping you up at night? 

(33:22) Tom Andriola: This is actually an interesting one. I'll answer it this way. What I'm hopeful for is that as we digitize our human experience, we get all this data, that we actually use it for good. That we actually build the ability to understand and predict situations and create more equity in our society. What I worry about, and cause I've seen this in other regards and certainly this has been situations of the past. Is that the opposite happens is that all this data becomes an exacerbation of the inequities that we're struggling with and trying to. Someone once taught me that the future's already here, it's just unevenly distributed. And that's really true. I used to live in the Bay Area, I used to live at the northern end of Silicon Valley, and we always had access to the newest technology in the newest things before everybody else.

(34:19) That type of privilege of technology and advancement actually makes equity situations worse. And so one of the reasons why you're seeing digital equity as such a strong topic of conversation in our community is there is a concern that all of this technology movement. And the pandemic highlighted some of these things as well in terms of when we had to go to virtual learning environments. Certain students didn't have devices, they didn't have connectivity, they didn't have quiet spaces. So there's an example where the ability to achieve at the same level was hampered by all of these barriers. And so that's the thing that we have to worry about with all this technology advancement is are we exacerbating problems and just making the problem worse because that is a fundamental challenge that we have in our society here in the US. 

(35:04) Amrit Ahluwalia: Absolutely. Well, and it's fascinating to see it play out in so many pockets and these pockets ultimately collect to a life. Well Tom, it's been an absolute pleasure. I so appreciate you joining me here. Before we go now, one of the things we do at the end of every episode of Illumination is we like to ask folks their favorite restaurant in their hometown. Now we're obviously in Denver, so I'll make it a little more broad for you. If you had a favorite restaurant in either Denver or Irvine, what would it be? 

(35:32) Tom Andriola: I'm going have to do Irvine, because my sample size in Denver is way too small. I have to do it where I live. Orange County, where we're centered is a county of 3.2 million people, but it's made up of 40 jurisdiction. So you drive a couple of miles into the next city. So I actually live in a city called Laguna Beach. It's out near the water. And our favorite place, my favorite place to eat is a place called Selanne’s—which is walking distance from my house. So that means it's a very frequent visit. My wife and I, we go, we actually don't get a table. We go sit at the bar so we can talk to people in a very kind of casual way. So it's called Selanne’s. I don't have the address memorized, but it's in my phone. I can tell you that. 

(36:19) Amrit Ahluwalia: It’ll be on the blog post that accompanies this episode. We'll make sure there's a link to it. Tom, thank you so much, man. It's been an absolute pleasure.

(36:25) Tom Andriola: Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me. It's been a pleasure and I hope you guys have a great show.

(36:29) Amrit Ahluwalia: Absolutely. Actually, before I let you go, and I'll give you one more, please do plug your podcast.

(36:33) Tom Andriola: Oh yeah. Podcast, Right. So this whole kind of digital movement, since I am the chief troublemaker as well as Chief Digital Officer at my university. One of the things I always wanted to do, and this role gave me the first real opportunity—was to create a podcast to bring in interesting guests to talk about what the future looks like. Bring in a panel of guests to talk about authority issue, where there are different perspectives. 

So we call it Digital Squared Life in an Increasingly Digital World. And we bring everything from practitioners to people who are really pushing the envelope. I've got Jeff Selingo is going to be our next podcast. We just interviewed him a couple days ago. I love Jeff. He's one of my kind of favorite provocateurs that we have in our space. He had some great pearls of wisdom to share with the audience. So we invite people to get out there and listen. And we'd love for people to comment on

(37:27) Amrit Ahluwalia: This podcast is made possible by a partnership between Modern Campus and The EvoLLLution. The Modern Campus Engagement Platform powers solutions for non-traditional student management, web content management, catalog and curriculum management, student engagement and development, conversational text messaging, career pathways, and campus maps and virtual tours. The result: innovative institutions can create learner to earner life cycle that engages modern learners for life, while providing modern administrators with the tools needed to streamline workflows and drive high efficiency. To learn more and to find out how to modernize your campus, visit That's modern