Education technology startups abound. Established education technology entities are, well, established. The sphere is literally buzzing with activity. Our institutions require tremendous amounts of technology to support students, staff, and faculty. Whenever I chat with fellow Student Affairs practitioners, it seems that we all have a shared experience of working with companies that provide us with various technologies. However, as I ponder this relationship, I started thinking about what it would look like if technology companies provided monies for internships for full-time practitioners. Internships that would benefit both the companies and practitioners, with the end result being greater levels of student satisfaction, usability, retention, and data.
Perhaps my brain has been muddled a bit due to my energetic output at the Big Ideas in Higher Education Conference, but I think that this idea could and should play out in our field. How many times have technology providers wished they had access to practitioners in this manner? Seems like an obvious and actionable idea. Let's take Ellucian as an example. SunGard and Datatel merged into a new company. Wouldn't it be strategically useful for this new entity to offer up a month-long series of internships to selected Student Affairs practitioners? The conversations and ideas that would emerge would be extremely beneficial to the company. On the flipside, practitioners would get to have a legitimate role in shaping the future offerings of applications that they use on a daily basis. Symbiotic intentional synergy…or at the very least, good sense.
Bottom line: Our students cannot afford for us to be engaged in an "us versus them" type of environment when it comes to our technology solutions. Sure, companies will continue to make money from us, but it seems like this would help orient things towards our students.
What do you think? Does this idea have value? Would schools let their people leave in exchange for potentially valuable returns to campus? Does your company already do this?
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