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Today, technology plays an important role in every discipline and industry.
Technology allows businesses to work more effectively and efficiently, but communication often creates challenges for businesses and organizations.
Angela Hollman is determined to find solutions for improving the communication processes between information technology departments and business executives, especially with the emerging need to protect against cyber attacks.
Her fascination with technology began when she was just 11 years old.
“My parents may have been a little unique in that we always had a computer around ever since I can remember,” said Hollman, assistant professor of industrial technology in the Department of Information, Networking and Telecommunications at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. “I remember when we had dial-up Internet. It was before we had a browser and you just typed things on the text line.
“I was using dial up and going on bulletin boards and playing different games with people who were all over the world. It was fascinating to me.”
While enrolling for classes at UNK, she was unsure what she should study. But when an adviser suggested technology, she went for it.
Hollman majored in computer programming and had a minor in networking and systems.
“I really liked technology, and I was fascinated by programming and how applications were made,” she said. “How you could type in code and make something for the user that looked totally different.”
During an exchange program at Utah State University, Hollman’s husband, Travis, suggested that they start a web applications business together. With his growing expertise in advertising and her knowledge of computer programing, they grew the business as they finished college.
“There came a point after graduation that I thought it would be better if he continued to grow the business, and I got a full-time job somewhere else,” she said.
In 2004, Hollman began working as a network analyst in Information Technology Services at UNK. She was soon promoted to assistant director of networking and earned her master’s degree in education with a concentration in instructional technology at UNK.
“After I got my master’s I thought I might like to try teaching,” she said. “That was a turning point for me.”
She taught a capstone course for the networking systems major at UNK as a lecturer and quickly fell in love with teaching.
“I thought the sharing of knowledge to students wouldn’t be so much like teaching, but more like sharing my experiences,” she said. “That’s how I approached the class, and the students really appreciated that.”
Hollman was eventually offered a full-time assistant professor position, and she began working on her Ph.D. in educational studies with a specialization in educational leadership and higher education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
“I liked bringing real world experiences to the classroom because I found it was really important to students,” Hollman said. “During the lecture/discussion, I brought in current events and talked about how technology related to students’ careers. It offered a deeper understanding of the theory and the technology combined together. I liked making that connection for them, and I liked that they were like, ‘Oh, I get it.’”
In the classroom, Hollman uses discussion to help students learn theory, and she uses hands-on work in the data center laboratory. Students learn to troubleshoot and problem solve in the lab, which also helps cultivate teamwork and communication skills.
“I find that even though this generation is considered one of the most technologically advanced, they still don’t understand what having a career in technology means and all of the vast opportunities available,” Hollman said. “I like to show them these opportunities and open their eyes to the possibilities through the hands-on labs.”
Her passion for helping students understand how they can pursue careers in technology was the catalyst for a project to help expose middle school students to information technology.
Hollman and her husband received a $125,000 grant from the State of Nebraska to develop and implement curriculum into middle schools.
“We realized that there’s a big assumption by middle and high school teachers and counselors that students just know how to use technology and are more savvy than teachers, but they don’t have an understanding of how it works and the careers that are possible,” Hollman said.
Helping build a technology company gave Hollman a special interest in how businesses use technology and how technology can be used to protect against cyber attacks.
“I find it valuable to talk about how technology works within business – the communication process between the IT director and other business people – sometimes it’s ineffective and doesn’t work well,” she said.
“Cyber security isn’t just an IT problem. When a company gets hit and its service gets taken down, it affects the well being of the whole company.”
In her paper published in the Journal of Cases on Information Technology in 2017, “Cyber InSecurity: A Post-Mortem Attempt to Assess Cyber Problems from IT and Business Management Perspectives,” Hollman explores how businesses and IT work together.
“My interest came from my background in our small company and some of the things I saw working in IT at the university, and how I thought we could do things differently (that) might be better,” she said. “If business was talking to IT differently, or IT was talking to business differently, things may work better.”
In her paper “Communication Processes of Information Technology Executives in Higher Education,” Hollman takes a unique look at a common phishing cyber attack that uses ransomware.
Her study seeks to explain key variables of internal communication processes of information technology executives, specifically chief information officers at higher education institutions.
The research is presented through the eyes of Jane, a veteran accounting employee at Sachem Manufacturing. The problem starts simply with Jane noting the slowness of the system, but soon escalates as a manager from information technology begins to investigate. He panics when he discovers that company assets have been compromised.
“Although the importance of technical security is emphasized within the case, organizational management and communication processes also play a significant role in defending an organization against cyber attacks,” Hollman said. “The research details what happens when upper-level management fails to perceive the risk to the organization’s assets and denies the funding of important IT projects.”
In the end, Sachem’s top executives resort to finger pointing, name-calling and head shaking as they discover that their managerial, technical and political shortcomings are more ubiquitous than they care to admit. The CEO blames IT for not preventing the situation and for not communicating effectively with management in understandable terms. IT blames the CEO for limiting necessary technical resources.
“This case is geared toward two different types of courses: technical students in a leadership, business, law or security policy course; and business students taking a management, leadership or business class to learn how to manage technical people,” Hollman said.
“This study has practical implications to guide any executive within an organization such as a university dealing with communicating and intertwining technology within the higher mission.”
In addition to her research on technology and business, Hollman explores how technology is used in other disciplines in her collaborative research projects.
During the 2016-17 academic year, she was part of a team of faculty awarded a grant for community gardens from the University of Nebraska Food for Health Collaboration Initiative. Hollman participated in promoting health through localizing food systems with technology and gardens.
In the upcoming academic year, a team of faculty will help rural middle school science teachers create and integrate aquaponics systems into their classrooms and curriculum.
The project is funded by the Nebraska Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education. Hollman developed a curriculum for a technology systems workshop for middle school teachers, taught the workshop, and co-developed curriculum within the workshop with the teachers.
Aquaponics is a modern agricultural practice that marries aquaculture – which is the farming of fish and other aquatic organisms – and hydroponics, which is growing plants without soil.
Along with Hollman, the team working on this project consists of Matt Bice, assistant professor in the Physical Activity and Wellness Laboratory; Nate Bickford, assistant professor of biology; Sonja Bickford, assistant professor of industrial technology; Dustin Ranglack, assistant professor of biology; and Dick Meyer, associate professor and chair of educational administration.
Hollman also mentors students exploring undergraduate research projects in multiple disciplines. Some of the student research projects have included researching health care and cyber security, and researching sensors and the interaction of sensors in gardening.
Through her research, Hollman is able to stay current on how technology is being used in industries today.
“It’s important to me to stay current. I’m always changing my classes, always updating, always incorporating the latest information,” she said.
ANGELA K. HOLLMAN
Title: Assistant Professor, Industrial Technology, Information Networking & Telecommunications
College: Business and Technology
Education: Doctor of Philosophy, Educational Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2014; Master of Science, Education, University of Nebraska at Kearney, 2009; Bachelor of Science, Computer Information Systems with minor in Telecommunications, UNK, 2001.
Years at UNK: 13
Career: Assistant Professor, ITEC Department and INT program, University of Nebraska at Kearney, 2014-present; Lecturer, ITEC Department, UNK, 2011-14; Assistant Director of Networking, ITS Department, UNK, 2008-11; Network Analyst, ITS Department, UNK, 2004-08; Hollman Media, co-founder and co-owner, 2000-present.
Family: Husband, Travis; Children: Sterling, 9, and Ayla, 5.
Hobbies/Interests: Hiking and vacationing with family, Reading fiction.
Honors/Awards: UNK Distinguished Young Alumni Award, 2014; University of Nebraska KUDOS Award, 2010.
Grants: Aquaponics in the Middle School Classroom, Nebraska Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education, $65,000, 2017-18; Community Gardens, University of Nebraska Food for Health, $20,000, 2016-17; Nebraska Developing Youth Talent, State of Nebraska, $125,000, 2015-16
Areas of research/specialization: Information technology systems and security
Courses taught: Internetworking Literacy; Society & Technology; The Influence of Technology on Democracy; Network Architecture & Telecom I; Network Architecture & Telecom II; Internetworking Design; Global Internetworking; Information Networking Seminar.
Recent Published Articles:
– “Communication Processes of Information Technology Executives in Higher Education,” Journal of Organizational and End User Computing, 2018 (in press).
– “Cyber InSecurity: A Post-Mortem Attempt to Assess Cyber Problems from IT and Business Management Perspectives,” Journal of Cases on Information Technology, 2017.
– “Math Skills That Don’t Add Up: A Comparison Between Eighth Grade and College Students,” The Professional Constructor, 2017.
– “Kinesiology in 360 degrees,” International Journal of Kinesiology in Higher Education, 2017.
– “Assessment of Project Website Sustainability: Case of the Arctic EIA project,” Informing Science: The International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline, 2016.