A Word From Our Dean

Dr. Carmen Burkhalter

I used to feel as though I was one of those professionals who was always ahead of the game with regard to the use of technology. I used one of the first personal computers back when a floppy disk had to be inserted just to turn it on. I adopted the latest technology in my courses. I owned handheld devices to check email before anyone I knew. I preordered Apple products before they were released. But… even I have hit a wall. The use of technology has moved so fast I can’t keep up. I have accounts with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Vimeo, Linked In, GroupMe, and Skype, just to name a few. In fact, I counted the number of passwords I have for various online accounts and the total came to 97. I can’t remember 97 of anything much less passwords to certain accounts. My point is -- in the age of wizard technology I get frustrated just like everyone else.

In spite of this frustration, I have to remind myself to look at what technology can do for our students. Besides the obvious day-to-day benefits of efficiency, I have seen people’s lives changed because of technology. First and foremost, technology is a great equalizer. Technology does not work because someone is a certain age, race, or gender. Successful use is completely dependent on the user’s skill set. This gives many of our students an opportunity to build confidence and participate in activities that might not otherwise be available. Secondly, I have observed students taking a more active role as citizens and social participants. They organize groups, create awareness, and highlight social issues in ways my generation did not. Simply put, they have a voice and believe they have a voice as citizens of our communities and our country. Thirdly, technology allows our student to be explorers. They are interested in connecting with folks over books, movies, politics, music, cooking, travel, news, etc. Central to the desire to be an explorer is the opportunity to become a life-long learner. Individuals who would not otherwise be able to go to college are now going to college to finish their degree. The technology is allowing them to participate in online learning in ways that previously were not available to working individuals with families. So... I have to remind myself that although I may not be able to keep up with technology as I once did, I believe engagement in all aspects of our society is a great and wonderful thing.