Lest You Think We’re There

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 we’re not there yet.

The committee was meeting to evaluate a collection of faculty proposals. As we sat down, one committee member said, “Before we get started, I wanted to raise an issue—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.” Another committee member responded, “You can always print the proposals from the emailed versions if you want a hard copy—that’s what I do.” The first member said, “Yes but then my department has to pay for the copies. Shouldn’t the faculty member submitting the proposal pay?” The group agreed that that was appropriate. (I didn’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, “Oh, you’ve got a laptop. I guess that means that you can take notes for the group today.”

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.

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3 Responses to Lest You Think We’re There

  1. Laura says:

    No, we aren’t there, especially when even in the *computing* department, people still want to print stuff out. And almost everyone *has* a laptop. People keep putting word documents in our network storage, which is sort of halfway there. Why not just put it on the web? Sigh.

  2. Jerry says:

    It seems to be difficult to get some folks to think differently when it comes to processes they are used to and have been doing for a long time.
    I must admit, sometimes I just need to print things out too – there is a differerence in way that I can interact with a printed page. For one, it is more persistant (lasts longer than my laptop batteries). But the differences are also dimminishing – for example – since I have a tablet, I can take notes in the margins of word documents, just like the paper version.

  3. Steve says:


    I don’t have a problem if people want to print things out for themselves. What I object to is the notion that workflow has to be based on paper, and that administrators (broadly defined) have a right to be served their way. Administrators (including faculty on committees) should be about providing service. I see the requirement to submit multiple paper copies of a document as nothing more than a hurdle, which allows administrators to avoid doing their work.

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