Amid all the changes and challenges that higher education staff and leaders deal with daily, a few themes resonate.
Members of our campuses want to feel connected to each other. They recognize that collaboration is essential to any technology initiative of size or import. And they are finding new and better ways to leverage technology to make that happen.
Technology Is What We Make of It
Community is intrinsically valuable, in higher education and elsewhere, but it isn’t inevitable, and we shouldn’t take it for granted.
One of the dichotomies of technology is that it has the potential to facilitate both independence and interdependence.
For example, mobile devices and software solutions give individuals flexibility to choose how, where and when to work.
By the same token, technology solutions can bring together people who might otherwise never meet. That’s the experience at institutions — like Rutgers University, the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and the University of Maine System — that are using the newest generation of videoconferencing solutions to great effect.
In Maine, leaders surveyed students about classroom technologies and learned that videoconferencing tools help to facilitate a feeling of connection, not only to individual classes but also to the university itself.
This may be especially true in a region where winter weather can make class attendance impossible, but it’s an important insight for all institutions.
Even as online curricula become central to the college experience, many students still express a desire for face-to-face interactions.
Yes, the institution had covered its bases from an infrastructure perspective, but when wildfires ravaged Southern California, what held things together were the individuals who knew how to react and coordinate to deliver the services the campus community needed.
In either case, as our experts point out in regard to classroom solutions, successful implementations don’t just happen.
They require users who are willing to embrace new solutions, and technology experts who can guide users in logistics and troubleshooting.
When all these people partner up to work toward the same ends, great things happen on our campuses — and in our communities.