Working in the field of higher education, we may naturally assume our primary duties are to instruct, educate and inform – to provide our students with the valuable skillsets they require – and to prepare them for future opportunities. But, increasingly, our ability to prepare our students depends on the expansion of our own knowledge – and our ability to be both educators and life long learners.
The dual impact of globalization and advanced technology is changing our world – and the nature of higher education with it. Our colleges and universities are now home to flipped classrooms, mobile apps and MOOCs – and more technology changes are on the horizon (NMC Report, 2013).
As leaders we have to embrace these changes, examine how best to utilize them and share them in our classroom environments with our students. At our university, we have a university wide initiative that provides faculty and staff with free hands-on training of new technology in education. We are encouraged to explore the use of podcasting, echo 360, online and a host of other applications and determine what technology is appropriate for our students and for our particular programs.
Internally at our school, we meet once a week with our chief technology officer to discuss issues with existing technology, discuss new technology products and services that are available and to brainstorm ideas for program and classroom innovation. As the result of such meetings, we recently launched a hybrid degree and non-credit program that features online technology and mobile applications.
We also must take advantage of external learning opportunities for faculty and staff. Next month, for instance, we will travel to the UPCEA and ACE conference in California to meet with colleagues to discuss online and new technology innovations in education (Summit, 2013). We also attend regional events and training sessions on technology and tap the resources of our colleagues at partner institutions. One such organization is JesuitNET, which provides a variety of programs and conferences which highlight how Catholic and Jesuit institutions can better integrate technology into the educational experience (JesuitNET, 2013).
As we have learned, ever-changing technology in the flat-world environment in which we exist will keep educators very busy. To keep pace with such change, we must be both teacher and student – life long learners. Our days may be longer – but they will hopefully be far more interesting and engaging.
The NMC Horizon Report: 2013 Higher Education Edition. (2013). Stanford, CA. Retrieved from http://www.nmc.org/pdf/2013-horizon-report-HE.pdf.
The Summit for Online Leadership & Strategy. (2013). Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://conferences.upcea.edu/SOLS/.
The Jesuit Distance Education Network – JesuitNET. (2013). Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://www.ajcunet.edu/jesuitnet.