Last year I blogged about the potential for Web2.0 tools to improve administrative processes in addition to teaching and learning. Two experiences at a recent committee meeting reminded me that weâ€™re not there yet.
The committee was meeting to evaluate a collection of faculty proposals. As we sat down, one committee member said, â€œBefore we get started, I wanted to raise an issueâ€”Did we decide not to ask for six copies of all proposals [i.e. one for each member of our committee]? After all, every other committee which evaluates proposals asks applicants to submit multiple copies.â€ Another committee member responded, â€œYou can always print the proposals from the emailed versions if you want a hard copyâ€”thatâ€™s what I do.â€ The first member said, â€œYes but then my department has to pay for the copies. Shouldnâ€™t the faculty member submitting the proposal pay?â€ The group agreed that that was appropriate. (I didnâ€™t say anything.)
I had brought my laptop to the meeting, the only person to do so. As we began discussing the proposals, the administrator on the committee looked at the laptop, looked at me and said, â€œOh, youâ€™ve got a laptop. I guess that means that you can take notes for the group today.â€
Is that what a laptop is for? I thought I brought it so I would have digital copies of all the proposals as well as access to all committee documents, and indeed, anything else we might need for completing our business.