“Ten Things the Years Have Taught Us In Ten Years”

A few of us from City Tech were invited to attend last month’s¬†forum on instructional technology¬†sponsored by City College’s Center for¬†Excellence¬†in Teaching and Learning. We heard from faculty and administrators at a number of campuses, but what stood out to me was¬†George Otte‘s presentation. He shared some wisdom he’s earned through working as the University Director of Academic Technology and the other positions he holds at CUNY. My notes might not be quite as complete as his presentation–if anyone can update, complete, or correct this list, please do!

Ten Things the Years Have Taught Us In Ten Years

  1. Don’t wait until you’re ensured the necessary wherewithal. As Otte put it in other words, “If you build it, they will fund.”
  2. Put things in writing.¬†As that is all I wrote down for this point, and it’s not clear what he was referring to specifically, I already wish I had followed that advice!
  3. Always focus on the why and not just the what. It’s important not to use the tools for the sake of the tools, but for the opportunities for learning, working, and sharing that the tools afford.
  4. A Corrollary: Be wary of trends for trends’ sake.
  5. A Caution: Don’t sit and wait for things to stabilize: they won’t.
  6. Principles before all other Ps (procedures, programs, even pilots). 
  7. People matter more than technology. 
  8. Ends matter more than means. For any project, there is a need to articulate goals and demonstrate usefulness.
  9. Expect change, because change is the expectation.
  10. Network, network, network.¬†That is, make sure others know about what you’re doing, and also know what’s out there so you don’t reinvent the wheel.

As I listened and eagerly took notes during this presentation, the OpenLab was at the forefront of my thoughts. We certainly need to keep ideas such as #5 in mind–otherwise, we would just keep building and building without ever releasing to the City Tech community¬†what we’ve developed–or #7–since the OpenLab is about building community and bringing the college together, using a virtual space where a physical one isn’t available. What I came to consider afterward was how these lessons apply to our classrooms, just on smaller scales. When we assign work that uses technology, is the technology the take-away? Will the core of that assignment work in ten years, even if the specific technology is replaced with something else? When we ask students to blog or tweet or shoot video, we’re encouraging them to develop skills that are current and transferrable, and we emphasize that each of these technologies is a medium for thinking and expressing course content. We need to ensure a balance between #4 and #5–that we don’t only look to trends, but that we don’t wait so long to determine what’s fleeting and what’s here to stay that we miss both. I’m curious to hear how others in this Open Pedagogy group consider any or all of these Ten Things, and hope we can engage fruitfully with each other via comments to this blog post, since those are the means we have (#8).