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Why Reducing Faculty Stress Should Be An Explicit Goal of Academic IT
September 18, 2012 - 9:00pm

I hope that you will be able to join us on Monday, 9/24 for a discussion of the IHE and Babson Survey Research Group's excellent report Digital Faculty: Professors and Technology, 2012

You can read a synthesis of the report and download the full text at this link, and you can sign-up for the webinar here.

In preparing to participate in this webinar the finding that most jumped out for me are on the the impact that digital communication has had on faculty stress. 

Fully 41.4 percent of faculty surveyed report "increased levels of stress arising from digital communication".

Wow. Can we escape the conclusion that at least in part us edtech folks are stressing out our faculty colleagues?

Given these findings, I'd like to suggest that academic IT departments and campus IT leadership place "faculty stress reduction" amongst our top priorities. (I'm being totally serious here... I know that "stress reduction" is not a traditional goal of computing - but I'm suggesting that it should be).

We should think about measuring our faculty's stress level around educational technology and digital communication, and then together with faculty come up with a plan specifically designed to reduce this stress.   

The reason to take this approach is not only because we like our faculty colleagues (we do), but out of the conviction that people do not innovate and take risks if they are stressed. 

Perhaps Steve Jobs would have disagreed with this approach, but I'm a firm believer that we do our best work when we feel supported and calm.   

When given the right tools, and the right incentive structures, our faculty are our best champions for innovating around teaching and learning.  Faculty will seek out new ways to utilize technology to better reach their teaching and research goals. 

We should think twice about rolling out new applications and new platforms, but rather focus on the conditions that support experimentation and continuous improvement.   

Paying more attention to our faculty partners state of mind, to the degree to which the the campus technology in which we touch is stressing them out, just might be the right place to focus our efforts on promoting innovation.

The Digital Faculty report suggests that our faculty are trying to tell us something about how they view technology on campus. Perhaps we should listen.


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