Monday, November 17, 2008

Green IT: The Next Big Thing

Wikipedia defines Green Computing as the study and practice of using computing resources efficiently. Modern IT systems rely upon a complicated mix of people, networks and hardware; as such, a green computing initiative must be systemic in nature, and address increasingly sophisticated problems. Elements of such as solution may comprise items such as end user satisfaction, management restructuring, regulatory compliance, disposal of electronic waste, telecommuting, virtualization of server resources, energy use, thin client solutions, and return on investment (ROI).

On Friday (November 14, 2008) I attended a Green IT (Information Technology) Summit in Plano, Texas. The Summit was held as part of the North Texas Regional Community College Technology Forum and was hosted by Collin College and the National Science Foundation funded Convergence Technology Center (CTC). The CTC is headquartered at Collin College in Frisco, Texas and has worked since 2004 to meet the growing regional need for skilled specialists in the area of convergence technology. The Center has done considerable work in the areas of curriculum development, professional development for high school and community college faculty, outreach to under-served populations, and mentoring colleges in the rapidly developing convergence technology field.

The CTC is currently expanding on this work to include “Green IT" and is developing online/hybrid curriculum, methods for under-represented polulation recruitment and retention, and the scaling of a Mentored College program to broaden the dissemination of convergence related degrees and certificates to an increased number of colleges around the country.

CTCpartners include El Centro College (El Centro), Dallas County Community College District; and the University of North Texas, Denton. In addition to its partners, the CTC is mentoring City College of San Francisco (CA), Orange Coast College (CA), Guilford Technical Community College (NC), Ohlone College (CA), Santa Ana College (CA) and Fox Valley Technical College (WI). Mentoring work has included:
  • Helping to build and refine advisory councils
  • Validating IT and IT related regional skills
  • Creating certificates and degrees using CTC defined curriculum as basis for new courses, and
  • Creating and implementing CT certificates
The Green IT Summit included a panel of IT industry executives discussing what Green IT is, what the workforce needs are and why it is so important. Technical sessions were focused on delivering distance education using new tools (Second Life, You Tube, Podcasting and other Web 2.0 based technologies) that our younger digital native students expect to find in modern classrooms.

EDS Fellow Charles E. Bess gave an excellent presentation at the conference titled The Greening of IT. Charles discussed where he and other EDS Fellows see Green IT going. To give you a taste - here's a piece from a seven part Green IT series on the EDS Next Big Thing Blog:

Economics are starting to play a major role, with the soaring costs of energy, penalties for e-waste, carbon credit trading and fiscal reporting moving these items on to the board agendas. Societal and environmental concerns are getting more media attention, and consumers are "voting with their wallets" to pay premiums for green products and
services. Political and legal issues are driving politicians and regulators to enact legislation to cap greenhouse gas emissions and set standards for IT equipment. Technology is also driving the demand for more and more information accessible through an exploding number of end user devices which creates increased demand for direct and indirect (e.g. battery chargers) energy consumption.

This past year I've had the opportunity to visit a number of colleges and have been encouraged by the numbers of science and math focused students that are interested specifically in Environmental Technology and Engineering. When I ask these students why they are so interested the answer (it's obvious if you have had the chance to talk with a high school student recently) is commonly centered around their desire to "fix" things like global warming, energy consumption and pollution. Green IT has not hit most of their radar screens yet but it will.

If you are at an academic institution looking to re-invigorate your IT and IT related programs, Green IT is something you should consider. The Convergence Technology Center is currently accepting applications from institutions that wish to become a mentored college. Ann Beheler, Helen Sullivan and Ann Blackman are doing excellent work and this is a great way to get started. You can get more information on the mentor program by clicking here.

You can see pictures I took at the Green IT Summit last Friday on my flickr page.

No comments: