From the CTO

2 February 2017
Janet Scannell

In our November issue I started by saying: “We live in a world where some things rarely change and some things, like my profession, change very quickly. The constant is that we are people who are engaging in the service of something bigger than ourselves.” At the time I was setting up a comparison of how much technology has changed during Carleton’s 150 years of existence. But we’ve seen a different lens on change during the past two months. With such big issues at stake, why do I think technology should demand some of your attention?

The reality is that technology is infused through all disciplines and professions. If we want to develop leaders who can discern whether they are expressing themselves in a private or potentially public location, they need to understand cloud technologies and which actions leave a technology footprint. We should also want our graduates to be able to evaluate online news, to use analytic and geographic mapping tools effectively and to engage new & emerging technologies efficiently and knowledgeably.

To be effective in mentoring the next generation, we all need to continue our own education in these areas. It has been inspiring to see the ways the Carleton community has engaged Google and Dropbox as opportunities to innovate. We have heard of greater efficiency through collaborative writing in Google Docs and advising scheduling using Appointment Slots, and we’ve heard of more open knowledge exchange now that document sharing can be managed by each community member without IT intervention.

ITS is also working to expand the knowledge of students directly. Our student employees get experience with developing and maintaining mobile apps, recording and editing event videos, developing and curating training materials, doing computer repairs for student-owned computers, and learning valuable skills in both verbal and written communication. And like many of you, our relationships with student employees often involve the roles of life coach, mentor, and friend. Those bonds continue to be very important for all of us.

Bottomline, I believe that technology is worth the effort not just because it increases our efficiency, but because it also continually expands our modes of interacting — opportunities can arise that were unfathomable in the old paradigm. Who would’ve predicted Twitter as a primary source for presidential news? Especially with the current pace of change in the world, it is important for us to catch our breath and commit to continue learning how to engage with the new technologies. All of us in ITS are available to provide partnership on the journey.

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