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On Driving Change

Want to foster intelligent use of technology on your campus? Find peer ‘sharing’ opportunities.

It’s a curious fact of campus life that after securing funding for new technology tools that will help the instution educate and compete, IT administrators are often thwarted in their implementation missions by the educators and administrators they are trying to help. And that resistance is understandable, even predictable. Human beings, by nature, are often fearful of change. We like to do things the way we have always done them; after all, there is comfort in knowing what we may expect from our daily actions, even if we are accustomed to mediocre results, or contrived workarounds. Isn’t a result you can predict more comfortable than one you’ve never encountered before? And don’t friendly routines require less energy output and inconvenience than learning newer procedures (which forces us to become students all over again)? Maybe it’s this last parenthetical point that makes it particularly difficult to “sell” new technology use to instructors. Yet, if that is true, then why do so many educators clamor to conferences, seminars, and association and user meetings each year?

I believe the answer is this: They may not like being taught, but they hunger for the opportunity to share knowledge with their peers and higher ed community leaders. It is the forum, in fact, that is at the core of all great educational endeavors, and forms our very model of higher education.

And when it comes to discovering the most effective ways to drive campus change through the use of technology and processes, I’ll take a well-planned forum opportunity any day, over an instance of passive learning. That’s why I urge those involved with the implementation or use of campus technology to spend time with their peers across higher education who have already met or are grappling with those challenges.

To find such forums—conferences, association meetings, technology users’ groups—start by scanning Upcoming Events on page 50 of this issue; check also the events calendars of other technology publications that deal with a particular area of interest: networking, telecommunications, presentation technology, etc. Then too, certain technology media franchises produce their own conferences, as d'es Campus Technology (part of the Syllabus Media Group). Syllabus2005 is coming up July 24-28, in Los Angeles, and it is a forum-modeled event you should seriously consider. As a newcomer last year to Syllabus2004, I found the meeting to be a truly unique gathering of campus technology implementers, decision-makers, and users. Although the conference boasts 100-plus diverse sessions, plenaries, workshops, and birds-of-a-feather breakout groups across five tracks, it is so forum-focused that attendees spend a full day on the campus of a peer institution (this year, UCLA), sharing information with others meeting similar challenges.

To make certain you don’t miss this exceptional event, watch for the
Syllabus2005 brochure, coming your way in April. In the meantime, to keep driving positive technology change on your campus, we hope you’ll consider Campus Technology—print, eMedia, or Syllabus conferences—your own personal forum opportunity.

What have you seen and heard? Send to: [email protected].

About the Author

Katherine Grayson is is a Los Angeles based freelance writer covering technology, education, and business issues.

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