5 Attributes of an Academic Tech Activist

How would you define activism in academic technology?

May 30, 2013

Are you and academic technology activist?  

How would you define activism in academic technology?

5 Ideas:

1.  You Are Interested In the System of Higher Education:

Do you see your professional role as part of a larger effort to improve higher education? Are you interested in questions of quality, access, and costs - and view the role of educational technology and academic technologist as important in addressing today's higher ed challenges?   

It is a challenge for those of us absorbed in the day-to-day tasks of campus technology issues to develop a strong understanding of higher ed as a system.  We are often too busy keeping our heads above water to take the time to learn and think about the larger economic, demographic, cultural, and competitive issues facing higher ed.  An academic technology activist seeks out opportunities to learn about higher education as an industry, and to participate in discussions and efforts to leverage what we know best (technology) to effect change.

2.  You Are Working to Utilize Technology as a Lever for Change:

What are the larger goals or objectives that animate your work?  Do you think about issues of educational quality, student learning, access to higher education, or the ever increasing tuition costs?  

An academic technology activist is motivated by a desire to help bring about large changes in both higher ed as a system and at the institutions that we work, and believes that technology is amongst the most effective of levers to catalyze change.  Technology is a means, not an ends, and the focus is always on reaching the larger goals.

3.  You Believe That Academic Technology Professionals Can Take a Leadership Role At Your Institution:

Do you believe that academic technology professionals have both the right and the responsibility to play a role in strategic decision making?  That academic technology leaders have a campus leadership role to play?  

This leadership role extends well beyond traditional operational and tactical duties, and extends into shaping the priorities, investments and structure of the institution.  This is of course a challenge, as academic technology leaders are:  a) not always invited to sit at strategic tables, and b) are pretty busy with the ever growing technology infrastructure and service demands of today's 24/7/365 campus.   

4.  You Think That It Is Possible to Increase Quality and Lower Higher Ed Costs Through the Use of Technology:

And academic technology activist feels the responsibility to play a role in simultaneously improving educational quality while lowering per-student costs and increasing revenues.   In other words, an academic technology activist sees beyond the domains of technology and is interested in both the quality and the economics of the institution.   

This orientation requires an understanding of the organization structure and the finances of the entire university.   The ability to see the operations of the university from the eyes of other campus leaders, from the president to the provost, admissions to finance, human resources to development.   

5.  You Are Dedicated Utilizing Technology to Improve Student Learning:

Academic technology activists see the role of higher education as primarily a mechanism to invest in our collective future. This means an orientation towards our students, student learning, and student costs.   

A key part of this mission is a commitment to partner with faculty colleagues and other campus education professionals such as librarians to improve student learning.   

How would you add to this list of attributes for an academic technology activist?

Are we nurturing and supporting the academic technology activists on our campuses?

What are the risks and downsides for viewing ourselves as activists within the context of a non-faculty job in higher education?


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