Quick Update: NSSE/EDUCAUSE Partnership

(I’m working on a longer post but I keep getting interrupted by life so this short post will have to do for now.)

I’m super excited that I’m going to the 2011 EDUCAUSE Annual Conference next month in Philadelphia to work with EDUCAUSE staff and members to develop potential questions for the next version of NSSE! I’ve always been a huge fan of EDUCAUSE and the work they do so I’m very hopeful that this collaboration will be fruitful and help us figure out the right kinds of questions to ask about technology. Over the past four years I’ve been involved in several efforts to address technology in NSSE and it’s very difficult so I’m really excited that we’ll be able to tap into the experience and expertise of technology experts.

I’m also a bit trepidatious about this collaboration. It’s young and in many ways undefined. I am hopeful that it bears fruit but it may fizzle out or even backfire since there is so much ground we have yet to cover and these are two large, complex organizations. Like many such efforts, it also feels like it is very dependent on a small number of people. While we’re all very talented and dedicated, we’re also incredibly busy and it may turn out that our interests are incompatible.

I’m also very thankful that this collaboration has even made it this far. It’s very gratifying that my colleagues are still willing to take risks on public ventures like this even as we continue to experience sharp public criticism. It’s more incredible for me to know that my supervisors have been supportive of this effort even though it has largely been championed by one graduate student. Of course, I haven’t done this or anything here by myself; I’ve had wonderful support from many people in nearly everything I’ve done here, especially from my current supervisor Allison BrckaLorenz who has been an enthusiastic supporter and wonderfully capable advisor from day one. Despite all of her other important responsibilities, Allison is neck deep in this EDUCAUSE/technology-thing with me and I’m so happy that she is involved!

So even though I’m a little fearful that this particular effort could fizzle out or even publicly blow up (which seems extraordinarily unlikely but I’m always a bit paranoid), I go into this knowing I’m not alone and I’m working with and for people as supportive as they are brilliant. I really want this collaboration between two of my favorite organizations to work. If this all works out well – and it will be a couple of years before we really know – it could be very powerful in helping U.S. higher education better understand and use technology to teach and communicate with undergraduates. I know that’s a very lofty aspiration but these two organizations are more than capable of fulfilling it.

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