It was a decision that had to be made. In my comment following this excellent presentation, do I only reference the parts of what I heard about the vision for IT at our College or do I also attempt to help everyone who is not in student affairs understand that IT can also play an important role in improving the educational experience of students by supporting the work of counselors and advisers who want to use technology to be more efficient and effective in their work with students?
Why did I have this dilemma?
The CIO made a most impressive presentation introducing concepts of the hype cycle, the trough of disillusionment, the slope of enlightenment and the plateau of productivity. He talked about the history of technology, where the College has been in its use of technology, where we are going, and various faculty and student initiatives in regard to instruction.
The bottom line is I loved the presentation! Yet, something really bothered me.
During the presentation, the CIO was quite specific in outlining how what he was proposing would work with the “academic areas.” Following the presentation when the administrators were making comments, the academic vice president framed his remarks with the words “on the academic side.”
I was surprised to hear this clear delineation of what was academic and, by inference, what was not, especially at a critical time when the entire College has been restructured to insure that advising is done by everyone to some degree.
To insure consistency, accuracy, continuity and a developmental model for advising, counseling faculty in student services are encouraging the use of a system where advisers are encouraged to place notes about their work with students so if a student changes a major or decides on a major after being advised as an undecided students, the next adviser has some prior information about the student.
The system also allows students to select the same adviser by scheduling their own appointments. The system will insure that students are on a pathway towards a degree or certificate, and data can be collected from the system to gauge the impact of interventions to help students succeed in their courses.
A wealth of information can be collected and shared among students, faculty, and administrators with a system that is technology dependent. Why the CIO and the vice president for academic affairs found it necessary to carve out the “academic side” in talking about the future of technology at the College was a puzzlement to me.
I chose not to attempt to enlighten my colleagues at this presentation because there is a time and place for everything, and my attempt at enlightenment following an outstanding presentation would have been seen as negatively disruptive, and no one can hear our message if there is the noise of negative disruption.
I will find other times and occasions to talk about holistic learning, the value of advising, and the fact that all of our work with students is “academic.”
I agree with Gwen that being perceived as disruptive is rarely a good thing. What I think is needed in these conversations is a total reframe of the language we use. When things are called “academic” that refers to organizational structure. We need to ask about learning- what do students need to learn, who can help them learn it, what is the best system for supporting learning in all areas for which the college holds itself responsible. Once we focus on learning, it becomes far less important to discuss formal roles or titles. If we move the conversation in this direction, we will make progress. It might be helpful to circulate a couple of my articles from About Campus to encourage continuing conversation.