Faculty On EdTech Committees

An appreciation....

May 8, 2013

Call me crazy, but I love committee work. Perhaps I should be more specific. I love edtech committee work, particularly edtech committees that are composed of both faculty and staff.

I'd like to take few minutes to share my appreciation to all of you faculty members who invest so much of your time on edtech committees.

Thank you for:

Self-Selecting:  Let's face it - committee work is not the shortest path to academic career advancement. Of the three pillars of teaching, research, and service - committee work offers perhaps the least R.O.T. (return on time).  Faculty who volunteer to serve on edtech committees are doing so largely because they believe in the importance of the committee work for the advancement of the institution.   Because you have self-selected into the edtech committee you come to the work with energy, optimism, and an open mind.   

Asking Lots of Questions:  In my experience in mixed faculty / staff edtech committees it is the faculty members who are most willing to ask the hard questions. Perhaps it is a part of the academic culture that values hypothesis testing and making arguments based on evidence. Perhaps a willingness to ask hard questions is based on a system of faculty governance. Certainly my colleagues who have achieved tenure have more latitude in pushing against group think, but an independent streak is often evident in those that are pre-tenure or not on the tenure track.

Challenging Us Staff Folks:  What I love the most is when my faculty colleagues push me hard to clarify and support whatever edtech argument that I happen to be making.  There is nothing as dangerous as a lazy consensus, and my colleagues on the faculty seem particularly attuned to sniffing out and challenging conclusions that do not follow the evidence.  When I work with faculty I am highly motivated to have done my homework.

Bringing a Different Perspective to Our Discussions:  There is real danger in hanging out only with people that share similar experiences and challenges.  Edtech professionals are not immune to this danger.  Faculty bring to the discussion their experiences in the classroom, doing research, and the cultures of their department and disciplines.  We make much better edtech decisions when considering how that decision looks through the eyes of a humanist, a business school professor, a chemist, a writing instructor, a biologist, and a music professor.   

Valuing our Expertise:  I have found that my faculty colleagues very much value the expertise of learning designers and educational technologists of all stripes. They get and appreciate that we are educators first, technologists second, and are gracious in soliciting our experiences and opinions.   

What has been your experience on mixed faculty / staff edtech committees?


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