Home Ministry Tech Leaders Grand Canyon University Rides Technology Waves to New Vitality

Grand Canyon University Rides Technology Waves to New Vitality

Throughout the digital Christian revolution, the GCU team had opportunities to experiment and learn. Could the system be transformed into a social network for Grand Canyon students? Technically, yes, and some students were early and active adopters. However, it became clear that most students weren’t going to turn away from their Facebook or MySpace accounts in favor of the school’s social networking features. So, instead, the university learned how to extend the missional community into Facebook and Twitter.

The GCU team has just introduced a new online learning system called Halo, architected for the Connected Intelligence revolution. The system is “cloud native”, designed to leverage the dynamic resourcing supported by cloud vendors like Amazon Web Services (AWS). Additional capacity is added on demand, supporting a virtually unlimited number of students, and the management and processing of massive amounts of data. Perhaps most importantly, Halo has been developed by the university staff and is completely under their control, ensuring that all data is completely within GCU’s control and protection.

Source: Grand Canyon University

The Power and the Danger of Technology Waves

Grand Canyon University is a missional community, with strong emphasis on both of those words. The model has always rested on strong relationships, among students, between students and their professors, and between students and support staff. The technology is a tool for serving that community; the community can’t be defined or constrained by the changing technology waves.

The university’s Christian mission not only shapes how the technology is used (e.g. supporting the integration of faith and biblical truth into the learning experience, or providing online prayer rooms) but also in how technology decisions are made. The technology exists to support people, made in the image of God and worthy of dignity and respect. The concepts of love and service are inherent in any technology decisions.

When a new capability is being considered, the technology team starts by asking “who will this benefit?” At GCU, the students always come first, and then faculty, so the technology must create the greatest good for them. The technology team is also guided by a set of principles including placing the highest value on privacy, the need to protect sensitive information, guarding against unduly influencing student opinions, and ensuring that the technology doesn’t make judgements on students to “intelligently” categorize them in ways that devalue their worth and dignity.

As technology waves continue to mature, Grand Canyon University seems set to ride each new technology wave to increase the richness and reach of their Christian mission while recognizing that it’s the technology that serves the people and not vice versa. They will guard against the seen and unseen dangers that are always lurking in the technology shadows by focusing on “civility, compassion, and the way of Jesus.” This different way may be narrow and hard, but leads to the greatest good.

This article on technology waves and faith originally appeared here, and is used by permission.

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Russ McGuire is a Strategist, Entrepreneur, Executive, Advisor, Mentor, Inventor, Innovator, Visionary, Author, Writer, Blogger, Husband, Father, Brother, Son, and Christian with proven strategic insights. He has been blessed to serve as an executive in Fortune 500 companies, found technology startups, be awarded technology patents, author a book and contribute to others, written dozens of articles for various publications, and speak at many conferences.