Culture of learning?

In sitting in an online session on culture yesterday, a question was asked about where we think our higher education institution sits in having an operating culture of learning. Naturally, the first answer was “duh, that’s what we do”. But is it? Of course that is the environment we create in the classroom and I think we do a great job of it. But, what about in our own offices and I say that coming from a support department in an area that changes nearly overnight. And why does it matter? We already focus on efficiency, communication, trust, and all those things that are important.

This culture is is important and here is why. As I watch the trends of the questions we are asked by the campus on a daily basis, they are changing. There was a time when the role of IT was to determine and control the technology of the campus. Today that is no longer the case. Consumer technologies are driving the way we connect and process. Our job today is to facilitate as best we can. So back to culture of learning, it is more than just knowing how to do the next thing. It is about having created a supportive environment that encourages both individual and group autonomous inquisitiveness. Without it, we have created teams that work only from a top-down model that awaits further instruction and the real talents and passions of our colleagues are never brought forward. We cannot facilitate today’s needs and goals based on purely hierarchical models.

So what do we need to do? It is encourage our colleagues to tackle something new. Allow for mistakes and silly questions. Remember, negative criticism doesn’t belong in this space. And yes, question your teacher and your boss.

Fred Brittain
Executive Director for Information
Technology Services