Waiting It Out
- By Katherine Grayson
Have you given up trying to bring faculty into the world
of emerging technology for teaching and learning?
What happens when you invite
a group of 50 senior campus
technology executives to discuss
what keeps them up at night? They
focus on the latest and greatest technotoys
for campus IT wizards, right?
Wrong: They grapple with-- among
other things-- how to "bring faculty into
the emerging technologies without
being overwhelmed or intimidated," as
one exec put it. Now there's a sympathetic
take on a persistent and often
recalcitrant challenge, if ever I heard one.
In fact, for the stellar group of campus
technology leaders who attended
this year's invitational Campus Technology
Executive Summit (July 28 in
Boston), dealing with such realities was
the order of the day. Certainly, there
were in-depth panel discussions on
emerging technologies, present and
future. And they were followed by intensive
roundtable discussions of the
subtopics critical to attendees. But
what may be surprising to some is how
tenacious the test of (as another
attendee phrased it) "successfully overcoming
the faculty hurdle" has become.
Recently, while attending the 2008
InfoComm Expo in Las Vegas, I had an especially
distressing conversation with two CIOs
(one from a top-tier university) who were
bemoaning what they described as their
never-ending battle to bring faculty into
the 21st century. They were visiting a
vendor booth where reps were hawking
a pretty exciting new technology product.
But their reaction was: "What's the
use? We'll never be able to get faculty to
use it." One of the execs even remarked
that he could no longer defend the tech
expenditures he had fought for, when
the intended users were so resistant to
the new technologies. Too large a portion
of his institution's faculty was of
an older generation, one of the CIOs
explained. "We'll just have to wait for
them to retire," he sighed.
As a campus technology executive,
are you "waiting it out?" Or, are you a
member of the faculty, intimidated by the
overwhelming speed with which tech
products are foisted at you, and so just
"waiting out" your tenure on campus?
The alarming fact of the matter is that
five years; two years; one month of your
students' education compromised while
this tug-of-war continues is not only irresponsible,
it is now indefensible. How
much longer can your institution stand
by a 20th century mode of course
instruction, when students have to work
and compete in a 21st century world?
And on a strictly business-survival level,
how long will your institution be able to
compete in a world where students can
secure a vibrant, engaging education
elsewhere, instead of sleeping through
your faculty's talking-head classes?
An aging faculty and a tight-fisted CFO
are no longer excuses, my friends. There
are too many good ideas for motivating,
incenting, and nudging intimidated
instructors to get with the program. And
there are now too many solid business
arguments for increased budget allocations
for such professional development.
Here at CT, all year long in print, online,
and at our conferences, we highlight
innovative approaches schools, technologists,
and faculty (yes, senior faculty)
employ to resolve this critical challenge.
It may take serious effort and planning
on your part, but it's time to devise a better
game plan to attack this obstacle.
Waiting it out is not an option!
--Katherine Grayson, Editor-In-Chief
What have you seen and heard? Send to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Katherine Grayson is is a Los Angeles based freelance writer covering technology,
education, and business issues.