Technology advancement that was only directly related to the IT and business sector has entered all walks of our lives in the past two years. Since the COVID-19 pandemic was announced and the whole world had to be quarantined in homes healthcare and education systems were among the essential amenities that had to quickly adapt technology to save lives and shape the future amidst the pandemic.
The importance of technology in education became obvious in past two years. However, insightful education leaders like Sue B. Workman have been emphasizing and embracing educational technology to shape the sustainable future for more than a decade.
As Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), Sue has been successfully creating vision and strategies to induce and implement technology solutions in day-to-day teaching and other functions of the university.
During her years of experience in the education field, Sue has recognized the crux of the system inside out and has been changing the dynamics of education by restructuring technology in the Ed-Tech field.
How do you induce and implement the changes at your institution while keeping the trust of your students, faculty, and stakeholders intact?
In my opinion, change only seems threatening if it comes out as a surprise when you suddenly bring any rule or announcement to the table and everybody has no option but to follow it.
At CWRU, we make sure to avoid such conflicts by taking our stakeholders on board to support our ideas and initiatives. We also involve our senior-level administrators as well as faculty, staff, and students whoever will be affected when making certain changes at the organization.
I also like to involve our stakeholders during the planning and decision-making phases. I have found these moves make the process of change a lot easier and transparent for everyone. More importantly, when it is time to take action you don’t have to sell your point across the table, it has already been sold along the way.
What challenges have you witnessed over the years of your experience in the field of education technology?
In my experience, retaining and delivering value in higher education and empowering students to survive and thrive in the competitive job market has always been the major challenges.
The education industry needs to be prepared for future challenges due to enrollment and funding issues at colleges and universities. Only those who have already been preparing the future change will survive.
In the light of recent events, we as an industry should start changing our perspective while adhering to the quality higher education practices that are still relevant and will be relevant in the future.
The education field has been experiencing potential disruption and transformation in past few years? How do you think the education space will evolve to embrace this tech-savvy future?
I see the recent changes opening the door to the whole new reality of teaching and learning space that has only been the imagination a few years ago.
The change happening today is not for the sake of it but to make the educational platforms more user-friendly for students as well as teachers.
At CWRU, we are already considering how the mix of advanced technologies like AR/VR with teaching can enhance the experience of students and teachers.
What would be your advice for your peers in the education field regarding their approach to technology?
My advice would be to embrace the technology and be open during designing and implementing technological solutions. Giving enough freedom to your technical team will allow them to test different technologies and see how they can benefit your campus.
Also, be flexible enough to accept and change if something doesn’t work for you. Letting your staff or faculty members take part in the process who take interest in technological challenges will help build knowledge around the new change you are bringing into the campus.
These are the dynamics every institution faces differently. However, figuring a way out with the support will help institutions not only embrace the technology and empower the campus future but will also create a powerful influence in the market.