A Bigger Part

I’ve been working in higher education for nearly 11 years now. The idea that I could come to a place like PSU and actually feel like I could honestly make an impact was very difficult for me when I first showed up. The University is so big and so intimidating as an outsider — I can’t even imagine how students feel when they show up! Combine that with the fact that I grew up not being a big Nittany Lion fan and you had a bit of an unwilling participant.

Since that time I’ve been lucky to have held positions as instructional designer, manager, director, instructor, and now after all these years, a student. I feel good to have had the opportunity to be a part of the early days of the World Campus when it was just spinning up. I learned so much as I watched people make real decisions about issues that were so new. I’ve been lucky to have been in the right place to be a part of the launch of the College of IST and become the Director of the Solutions Institute. An amazing time when we were acting like a real start up inside higher education. I’ve been lucky to teach both undergraduates and graduate students. Applying what my teams have been creating first hand has been an incredible opportunity and learning experience. Now I spend my time helping people to think about larger issues that impact a big University and I can’t be happier with that opportunity.

But, with all that said its taken being a student at PSU for me to see the whole picture. I was talking to my colleague Chris Stubbs yesterday about this very notion. Its such an odd feeling going from one side of the podium to the other — it is very strange to be sitting in seats that I routinely work to make decisions about. Let me say that I’ve learned so much more in the last few weeks than what is on the syllabus. Looking at our technologies through the eyes of a student can give us such a stronger sense of what we need to be doing to make the experience really work. I can say that teaching hasn’t quite done that for me, but being a student shows me how much work we have to do to keep up with what students need to be successful long term.

I’m already rethinking much of what we do as an organization and how we make decisions. Having a chance to sit in so many seats for one Institution has given me fresh perspective and motivation to work on old challenges. I’m looking forward to seeing what it all means as summer comes and I have more time to really reflect on how to move new ideas forward, but for now I’m just happy to be a bigger part of the whole system.

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