This month also marks the fifth anniversary of the roll out of a huge digital classroom building project on my campus. As I look back on the challenges we faced in implementation of brand new technologies, I see just how far we have come as a learning community. At the beginning, there was skepticism and even some fear that we were spending a ton of money on academic technology. And of course, the first semester was a nightmare. So many tech problems (most ended up being major bugs in the hardware that we finally worked through with the equipment manufacturers). So many days I came home and told my wife that I had said “I’m sorry” so many times to faculty and students that I was all “sorried” out. But over time, we found ways to work through the challenges and I think the experience made us stronger as an educational community.
Now, on this anniversary, five years later, we are expanding the support of academic technology for faculty and have a growing faculty innovation project culture. The classrooms that started out with so many technical issues are now stable systems that provide students and faculty with a modern environment in which to discover and work together. It is so easy to get caught up in the day to day “taming” of academic technology tools that we miss recognizing how where we have been really does affect where we are going. It seems the process of the unfamiliar becoming familiar grows in us a greater capacity to experiment. Celebrating the milestones or anniversaries help us to have that perspective and the context for the work we do which can allow innovation to flourish.
Moving on from the celebration and back to the daily work and life can be sobering, but it is these days that ultimately give us something to celebrate. This year my department will expand services to faculty and take on the daunting challenge of assessing a new LMS product for our campus. Another building project looms not too far off in the distance and there is always the list of “surprises” that technology will surely present. There will be challenges and if this anniversary teaches us anything, it is that personally and corporately we will preserver. Because I know where we have been, I take the next steps with hope and faith knowing that it is in the journey where the adventure lies. Happy anniversary to my dear wife and to the academic technology on my campus. Here’s to many more adventures, challenges and discoveries and … many more celebrations.