Tractors are tools. Growing up in Iowa, I was always impressed by the variety of tractors that were used for farming. My parents owned an ancient Case IH tractor. It didn't have a cab, power steering, or 4 wheel drive. It was a relic. An antique that worked long past its "expiration date." My grandfather's equipment was much more advanced. His tractors had air conditioning, a radio, and power steering.
Today's tractors have HEPA filters, iPod connections, heated seats, and more amenities than my car. Tractor technology has evolved over time to enable farmers to increase their productivity and efficiency. In many ways, tractor technology is similar to the technologies that Student Affairs practitioners use in their daily practice.
The technology tools that we use as professionals are in a constant state of flux. My first computer, a Commodore 64, was amazing. However, I recall when I first demoed an Apple Newton, played Oregon Trail on a beige Mac or bought my first Gateway computer. The tools that I was using to create, analyze, and generally be more efficient, have always been shifting. New technologies are constantly released, created, and demoed.
Every time I come across a new web-based solution or an innovative piece of hardware, I immediately think about how I could use it to expand or enhance my technology tool kit. It's this mindset that allows me to readily adopt and adapt. For example, Facebook is the new juggernaut of the web. However, will Facebook continue to dominate the web in ten years? Will Facebook eventually fade away into web oblivion? I don't know. What I do know is that I am okay with either option. My willingness to grow and learn when it comes to new technologies is not dependent on the longevity of a particular tool. Being open to "new" is an important competency for Student Affairs practitioners.
The evolution of the web has generated a myriad of tools. It's very similar to farming. Farming has evolved. Innovative solutions have been incorporated into the tractors of 2010. If farmers were to fixate on the current or past tools, they would be missing the big picture. Farming isn't about the tools. It's about the people who use them to "grow."
Student Affairs professionals can learn from this analogy. The tools come and go. Having a viewpoint that considers the value of new technologies, regardless of the time that they exist, can be extremely beneficial. Use tools that allow you to achieve your strategic goals. Realizing that the tools of today will most likely not be the tools of tomorrow.
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