Thursday, June 12, 2008

We specialize in things thought impossible

There are three reasons for the long hiatus in postings. The weeks in May at AU are supposed to be a time for teaching one’s breath and taking stock. This year, it has been quite the opposite. We scheduled CTE’s end of year retreat for Friday. Monday CTE’s Annual Report was due. Tuesday and yesterday, there were a frenzy of preparations for a month long trip to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and, of course, Sri Lanka. Anyhow, the retreat was a success, the report got completed and, though I delayed packing until the last minute - as usual - I got to the airport with time to spare; plenty of time, as it has transpired because because my flight from Reagan to Kennedy airport has been delayed.... hopefully not canceled. wasn’t, however I’m glad I didn’t have a close connection: The 4:25 arrival time became 6: and included nearly and hour wait on the Tarmak at JFK airport. this is customary, the pilot explained. Anyhow, I wanted, in this posting to share the executive summary of CTE’s annual report. It will give you an organization which is, we believe, you need in American higher education and perhaps in the world. Here’s why:

From these materials [in our more voluminous report]six themes emerge that highlight a significant year of accomplishments for CTE and contributions to the American University.

First is the growth in core services to CTE’s principal clients, AU’s students and faculty. We call this the ‘good stewardship’ mission and it trumps all other goals and priorities. In academic year 2007-2008 CTE’s total contacts with faculty members, providing services in various venues, grew by 40%, from 6,695 to 9,357. This included a remarkable 51% growth in the services provided by CTE’s Faculty Corner, an institution that we believe is unique in American Higher Education. There was a 17% increase in total student contact hours, from 63,061 to 73,519, with high levels of satisfaction reported in our end-of-semester surveys. This included a 75% increase in the utilization of CTE’s multimedia facilities, the New Media Center and the newly created NMC 2.0.

Second is community building. The creation of vibrant user communities is viewed as central to CTE’s mission. Among the communities that interacted regularly and grew strong were the Ann Ferren Teaching Conference Planning Group, the Faculty Quantitative Teaching Technologies Network, the Greenberg Seminar Faculty, the Model Classroom Faculty, the Distance Education Faculty and, in an earlier stage of evolution, the Multimedia Faculty User’s Group.

Third is sustaining CTE’s distinctive culture of service, empowerment and professionalism. Perhaps this was most visibly captured in a series of short videos produced for a CTE staff competition and posted on YouTube. The theme was “CTE: There’s a Better Way.” Other initiatives supported the professional development of CTE Fellows and helped create a supportive, nurturing environment for CTE’s diverse cadre of international students.

Fourth is catalyzing and sustaining new initiatives. In 2007-2008, CTE unveiled AU’s new Model Classroom, featuring cutting edge instructional technologies supported by a new concept of collaborative staff support from the New Media Center. It provided leadership for AU’s iTunes University presence, to be unveiled in August. It opened NMC 2.0, a high-end multimedia center that piloted a space optimizing collaborative use model. NMC 2.0 recorded 477 contact hours and 77% capacity utilization in April of its first year.

Fifth is modeling collegiality and collaboration. For the second time in four years, CTE worked with OIT and Blackboard Inc. to orchestrate a near flawless system upgrade of the Blackboard learning system. It collaborated with the Office of the Provost to further strengthen distance education. It worked in partnership with SIS and the Kogod school on the design of lab and AV systems for new buildings. It is collaborating with Librarian Bill Mayer and his staff to stage our next Ann Ferren Teaching Conference in the University Library.
Sixth is serving AU’s broader mission and the AU Community. In addition to contributions noted above, CTE provided AV support to more than 300 special events each month, ranging from club meetings to commencement, the President’s inauguration and speeches by outside dignitaries. It upgraded AU technologies in 55 classrooms and collaborated with the Finance Division to create a capital budgeting model that will facilitate a sustainable process for future upgrades. It contributed “Teaching and Learning Day” to the Presidential Inauguration Week, displaying models of good teaching in parts of the campus where they had never been viewed previously. It has become the provider of videoconferencing and video production services to the AU community. It produced DVDs of major events for wide distribution in less than 24 hours. … and much more.

It seems appropriate to conclude this year’s Annual Report, once again documenting significant accomplishments, as we concluded last year’s report: “We have fun, enjoy each other’s company and working together. We are trusted and sustain that trust by producing consistent, high quality results on a daily basis. We make things work. CTE’s Annual Report is not only about what we accomplish, but how we accomplish it. We take inspiration from The Song of the Panama Canal Builders: “Got any rivers you think are uncrossable, got any mountains they say, ‘Can’t tunnel through,’ We specialize in things thought impossible, doing the things they say, ‘You can’t do.’ ”

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