Nov 04 2013

Q&A with Academic Technology Specialist Autumm Caines

A debriefing from EDUCAUSE, the future of wearable technology, and a few great resources on the social web.

This year’s EDUCAUSE conference caused a flurry of activity on social media sites like Twitter. There was so much going on that EdTech created a list of people to follow, which has topped 100 entries.

Autumm Caines, an academic technology specialist at Capital University, in Columbus, Ohio, was one of the most active and informative tweeters at the event. Caines’ activity caught our attention because of the pictures, videos, probing questions and insightful responses. Not everyone can communicate knowledge in just 140 characters. But Caines can.

EdTech: Tell us about your background and your role at Capital University.

Caines: I started as the academic technology specialist at Capital University, in Columbus, Ohio, in January of 2008, right after getting my B.S. in communication technology from Eastern Michigan University. I am a nontraditional student and the first in my family to graduate from college. I spent time at Oakland Community College in Michigan, where I earned a degree in liberal arts and a two-year certificate in web development. I also got my start in ed-tech there, with an internship that turned into a contract position with the Office of Academic Technology. I am really grateful that I have experience with such a diverse representation of institutions. I’ve been in the small, private, liberal arts environment for some time now, but I frequently pull from my experiences in the community college and big school environments. I’m looking into starting a graduate program next year.

EdTech: What was the coolest thing you learned at EDUCAUSE?

Caines: You want me to choose one?! There was so much going at EDUCAUSE that I have to mention at least three things.

First, I really enjoyed all the brain-science information that Jane McGonigal shared about gaming in her keynote. I have been thinking a lot lately about the brain’s automatic responses and reward centers, and how we can better utilize those natural reactions to tap into learning.

Second, talking to Echo 360’s head of platform innovation, Greg Golkin, on the vendor floor was very informative. We are new Echo customers, and Greg and I talked some shop about what the company has in the pipeline and how that will influence some of our use cases.

Last, I met with Dr. Ann Hill Duin and a group of representatives from Lutheran schools around the country (Capital has Lutheran roots) who are exploring, compiling and sharing their experiences with online learning and the impact of tech in higher ed. They are calling it Project DAVID: Distinction, Analytics, Value, Innovation, and approach to Digital opportunities.

EdTech: What about technology in higher ed makes you nervous?

Caines: I don’t think “nervous” is the right term, but I have concerns about security and privacy. Data is so important to technology these days, and sometimes that data is private. It’s healthy for us to debate the role of technology in education. It is so important to be sure that colleges are purchasing tech for the right reasons and not just throwing money at a problem. Technology can be a great solution to many problems, but it can also complicate the problem if it is not the right resolution.

EdTech: What is the "next big thing" in higher-ed tech?

Caines: I try to stay away from predictions, but if I had to guess, I would put my money on 3D printing and wearable technology, like Google Glass. Also, I would love to see all of the MOOC talk shift to a focus on the “open” concept and less on the “massive.” I know there is some talk of that already with the SPOC model, and I would really love to see that take off.

EdTech: Who are some #highered folks that we should be following on social media?

Caines: Here is a sampling of those ed-tech people I enjoy following on Twitter:

  • @Jessifer and @HybridPed – I got involved in their MOOC MOOC this summer and had a great time learning more about MOOCs – the good and the bad. Don’t miss the online journal at

  • @rclemmons – I just started following Raechelle during EDUCAUSE. Not only was she putting out some really great stuff, but she was also really engaging. She blogs at

  • @gravesle – I got the chance to work with Leigh for just a moment. She is the program director of the M.A. Ed Tech program at Michigan State. Very knowledgeable about ed tech. She blogs about ed tech and great food.

  • @reyjunco – I just met Rey this year at EDUCAUSE, and he is doing really great work with analytics. He blogs at

  • @S_dF – Stephen diFilipo always tweets great info about ed tech. Attended his EDUCAUSE session on future technologies and found it really engaging.

Check out our video coverage from EDUCAUSE here.


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