From the CTO

4 May 2016
Janet Scannell

A few weeks ago, Carleton had its annual Employee Recognition Lunch.  To me, that is one of the events that makes Carleton special. It is a unique opportunity to celebrate the broad and varied group of people who are needed in order to provide this wonderful, residential educational experience for our students.  Believe it or not, that event got me thinking about email and files and what it means to be a good communicator in 2016. 

For the first time, this year’s lunch recognized the longest tenured staff by showing a video about them. We got to know them in their work environments, with stories that illuminated their commitment to Carleton and a deep spirit of collegiality and good humor.  Because it was introduced this year, it had a sensibility that fit how video is used to communicate in 2016.  It could’ve been on YouTube and our kids would’ve been impressed. Congratulations to College Communications!

We have a similar opportunity to reinvent communications with the migration from Zimbra to Google and the move of files from Collab to Dropbox and Google Drive.  We are living in a world where work communications also happen on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, websites and via text message.  It’s almost overwhelming to consider when and how to switch approaches. If we’d been using the telephone to communicate and were now starting fresh, it would be interesting to see how we would use these new tools.

The ITS migration team and the departmental “Super Heroes” and “File Management Stewards” are giving deep thought to that very question.  They are reflecting on when to encourage sharing a link to a document rather than sending an attachment. They are learning how to use Google’s “appointment slots” as a more efficient way of creating appointments (e.g. advising or office hours).  And they are exploring other parts of the Google suite such as Google Forms, Groups and Chat which offer opportunities to streamline and to consolidate information for easy referral.  As you go through training and prepare for this new environment, I would encourage you to reflect on your current communication paths and to try new approaches. 

In this issue you will find other articles about communications — articles about the process for moving to Gmail and Dropbox, and an article about a new tool to make sure our web-based communications are accurate and provide the best experience for visitors to   

There is a lot of effort being expended to make sure these transitions go as well as they possibly can and that we meet our migration goals, and yet we are aware that the migration isn’t the end of the process. The most exciting time will be the Fall when we are back and applying these new opportunities. One idea is to involve community members in videos that highlight some of their favorite new discoveries.  We already know some natural screen stars from the Employee Recognition video, and I’m confident there are even more hidden stars among us. Please let me know if you have any questions or suggestions — I can’t wait to see your highlights reel.

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