My Learning Curve
What I’ve figured out, so far, about higher education IT and my promises for the year ahead.
I have spent my career in educational technology. Until about a year and a half ago, my entire focus was K-12.
At that time Geoff Fletcher—the erstwhile and much-missed editorial director of this magazine—asked me to “help out” by editing some stories. I agreed, but warned him that I was fairly clueless about higher education technology issues. But, I assured him, I’m a fast learner. Good thing, since as of Nov. 1, I’ve stepped into Geoff’s shoes (as if they would fit!) as editorial director for the education group at 1105 Media, which means that I’m now not just editing copy, but helping direct the focus and future of this magazine.
To say that I’ve been on a steep learning curve these past 18 months is to put it mildly. (Luckily I’ve had Rhea Kelly, our knowledgeable and intrepid managing editor, as my on-the-job tutor.) But it’s been an exhilarating and fascinating climb, and I thought I would use the occasion of my first editor’s note to talk about what I’ve learned editing stories about people like you.
1) Higher ed IT is more about people than PCs. I have been struck over and over again how IT leaders struggle more with the politics of networks, business intelligence, and information systems than the technical implementation of them. Not to belittle the technological headaches, but when CIOs and other IT campus leaders speak to us—whether through the magazine or at the Campus Technology Conference (next year July 25-28 in Boston)—they’ve said that managing people (and their expectations) is really the biggest challenge in their jobs. So one of the things that we’re going to do in CT over the coming year is focus more keenly on the people-management aspects of IT leadership.
2) Higher ed IT leaders actually care about teaching and learning. I ventured into this world believing that higher ed IT was about infrastructure and data systems and that only colleges of education cared about teaching and learning (and, of course, only in K-12). I have never been happier to have been proved wrong. As Mary Grush, our editor-at-large and keeper of the flame here at CT, has said to me, “Any CIO worth his or her salt cares deeply about teaching and learning.” This magazine and our conference have always done an excellent job of shining a light on innovative uses of technology in teaching and learning, and we will continue to do so in the coming year.
3) Technology is going to be key to higher education’s success (survival?) in our brave new world. This statement is probably true for just about any enterprise or institution, but in the case of higher education, it’s pretty clear that its future may hinge on whether it embraces technology’s transformative powers or runs scared of them. Here at CT, we hope to make our readers (and ourselves) braver and wiser as we face the daunting challenges ahead.
For me to keep these promises to you, I need your help. Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me how I can do my job to make you more successful in your job. I’m looking forward to working with you.