Thursday, August 20, 2009

Change is coming...

I've sat through 2 long days of "faculty development," staff reports, and instructional seminars. The theme of today's meetings came from this commercial for Kaplan University which scared many of our administrators:

"Change is coming..." "Things are changing fast..." "We must change..." "We must be aware of what's changing..." were all repeated cliches of the day.

It's funny because I've been repeating similar cliches for the last week. My department has a new boss who is an outsider (like myself) and an instrument of change. It's like a tidal wave approaching shore, you can either find a way to roll with it or be destroyed by it.

Higher education is changing. We live in an increasingly global extremely competitive world where students would rather get a cheaper online degree from home than drive somewhere for expensive face-to-face interaction. As higher education becomes more necessary more people are supplying it and doing it in new ways that are eliminating the old players.

Students are changing. College students today have never known of a world without the internet. They're growing more comfortable with doing everything online, including reading textbooks. Our admissions director/chief recruiter said "I'm working in such a way that we are all still here in 5 years."

Technology changes faster than you can change. We watched an IT demonstration of a new but very soon-to-be obsolete software package (hello, Google Wave) that even the IT people hadn't mastered yet (and was disappointingly unflexible).

This time around the change benefits me and makes me feel young. I'm the guy who is always online with his mobile device and gets work done during lectures with an attention-getting tiny Asus EEE netbook. Both devices are models from well over a year ago and are considered out-of-date. Yet they're revolutionary and cool to my peers who are older. I'm the guy live tweeting the meeting (I counted a couple other new faculty twitterers today too). So, I am fairly hip to the idea of more technological change. IE: I may be older and less cool than my students, but I'm still OK.

I've lived in different cultures, gone through different universities, and am always voraciously devouring the latest ideas and debates. So, I relish the idea of our university doing new things and not stuck doing the same old same old.

Change for change's sake is often unnecessary. But change for survival, and change that is deeply striving for the glory of God is necessary and pretty exciting. Except for those who don't want to change...

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