11 leaders shaping the future of higher education


Name/Title: Roxann Riskin, Technology Specialist/Technology Student Assistant Service Supervisor at Fairfield University at the DiMenna-Nyselius Library, CT.

Bio: Riskin has over 20 years of educational experience and holds an M.S., B.S. in Education, Special Education/Learning Disabilities all from Southern Connecticut State University, and from Penn State University World Campus- Instructional Systems-Educational Technology, and is a MCP- Microsoft Certified Professional. She has completed numerous Coursera Signature Track MOOC courses in technology, healthcare and marketing. Riskin is an official GOOGLE Glass Explorer as of January 2014, and professional experience includes information technologist—computer coordinator, classroom computer teaching, and campus—instructional technology facilitator, supervisor for the student technology assistant library service, and mobile technology-iPad coordinator. She is an experienced conference presenter and is currently an advocate at the university for LGBT Safe Spaces, a member of ALA, CLA, and a Microsoft MCP- Member. She has an active Twitter account #roxannriskin

The game-changer: Wearable technology, especially like the Google Glass. The social and informational connectivity platform that Glass uses for communicating is by design dynamic.  With practically no learning curve needed to operate it, Glass can almost obviously become a win-win device in teaching and learning environments. Since many types of wearable, internet-connected items are, at this time, entering into the consumer marketplace, it would be realistic to acknowledge that higher education institutions will be seeing an influx of these devices on campus very soon.

Future trend: Wearable devices. With that said, the next generation of smart devices, looks to me, like the wearable items will be favored i.e. smart watches, glasses, clothing, and also, non- professional, types of “sentient” physical fitness devices. Also, the emerging 5G, next-generation mobile communications will help to situate wearable tech into an even faster paced adoption. Then, the ‘Internet of Things’ will become realized as more devices begin to communicate with each other transparently. I think Apps, for these devices, will become very customizable for personalized learning experiences.

Passion: Developing creative teaching and learning opportunities. Using, and investigating new technologies, like Glass, in conjunction with social media sites like Twitter, can lead to the discovery of new methods of augmenting and enhancing teaching and learning environments. Mashing up social sites with emerging devices, provides for unique opportunities for creative educators to flip or blend, transforming the classroom, by developing collaborative and participatory teaching and learning experiences.

Hobby: The hobby I enjoy the most is taking voice lessons online, and I also have fun singing on a world known Karaoke App called Sing! developed by Smule.  There are many karaoke Apps available, but this particular App has connected me with professional and non- professional, vocalists who have an infinitesimal love of music in all genres.

Quote/Belief: In 1986, the national tragedy, of the Space Shuttle Challenger, occurred, and in President Ronald Reagan’s State of the Union Address, was a quote, that I keep close to my heart and mind, (as I, also ,was a witness to the tragic event that unfolded on live, TV):

He said:

“…And I want to say something to the schoolchildren of America who were watching the live coverage of the shuttle’s takeoff. I know it is hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen. It’s all part of the process of exploration and discovery. It’s all part of taking a chance and expanding man’s horizons. The future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we’ll continue to follow them … “

Especially now, I believe this quote speaks volumes to the world community. Conversations that define a clear focus on sustaining awareness, and motivation to create innovative outreach opportunities for exploring new technologies in the technological revolution, need to significantly increase.  In this regard, we must continue to be a thoughtful community, keeping a curious mind for creativeness, in synchronicity with courage and wisdom in order to model the best educational practices for the digitally lived students of the 21st century. And in time, when the post digital students become the next generation of future teachers and leaders, they too, will build upon the past legacy technologies, and will be brave, like the Challenger crew, to boldly take the chances and challenges that pull them into their future, and many will follow them.


Name/Title: Salwa Ismail, Head of the Department of Library Information Technology at the Georgetown University Library in Washington, D.C.

Bio: Prior to her current position, she was the Head of the Digital Library at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida. A Florida native, she holds various graduate degrees in business administration, public administration and information sciences from Florida State University and Florida Atlantic University. In her current position, she oversees the information technology facets of library systems, library application development, web services and digital initiative and services for Georgetown University Library.

The game-changer: The evolving school of thought and innovations in what higher-ed should be. There are several challenges facing higher education from disruptive technologies to dormant curriculum. However, with more universities exploring how the universities of the future should be designed and what core competencies in students can facilitate better discovery and interaction with the help of emerging technologies – this school of thought definitely will be a game changer.

Future trend: The trend of online education that is student-centered and focused on core foundational concepts that develop a person as a human being, not just a degree that meets the credit requirements.

Passion: I have a deep passion in exploring how emerging trends and technologies can mold and pave way for how the universities of the future will be designed and the types of curriculum and interaction that they will offer.

Hobby: I enjoy running outside, but of course only when the weather is enjoyable.

Quote/Belief: I try to follow Eleanor Roosevelt’s advice that “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”