Former prime minister of the United Kingdom Margaret Thatcher once wisely stated, “New technology is…the indispensable ally of progress and the
surest guarantee of prosperity.” These
omniscient words remain true today;
if modern community colleges seek
to progress and prosper, it is our duty
to our students to not only embrace
technology, but provide an exceptional
experience with regards to connectivity
and innovation on our campuses.
Technology is intertwined in almost
every facet of education. During the 20th
century, amenities such as electricity and
air conditioning became expected constants and not luxuries. Similarly, students
no longer consider PowerPoint, Wi-Fi and
learning management systems (LMS) to
be special technology; it is simply the platform upon which education is delivered.
Students assume that those basic technologies work, and those basic technologies
are only noticed when they do not work,
similar to air conditioning or electricity.
Because of the marriage between
technology and education, dramatic
improvements in effectiveness and
efficiency can only be realized when colleges move beyond the maintenance of
expected technology and toward the next
big disruptive innovation in the field.
To hold this position and serve its
students, the two-year institution must
develop strategies that command success
in all facets of institutional technology
integration. At a minimum, those strategies must fortify the underlying structures supporting technology, such as networks and devices; adopt a strategic goal
of entrepreneurial adoption of technology
when seeking out new applications and
modifying processes; provide the student
body a foundation in technology through
core curricula and applied methods; and
progressively drive outside partnerships
to resource all technology endeavors.
By way of example, when Mississippi
Gulf Coast Community College was devel-
oping its current strategic plan, we put a
lot of thought into predicting the needs of
our students and our communities over a
decade. What we discovered was that tech-
nology was becoming an ever larger, more
important factor to meeting the needs of
our stakeholders over time. We also real-
ized that our outdated IT infrastructure
could not effectively meet those needs.
After research and review, we decided
to transition our internal technology
division to a third-party company with
an expertise in educational technology.
Our new partner was interested in discovering “how can we make innovation
happen” vs. “why we can’t make things
happen,” as our previous department had
done. This was a major change in our
technology efforts. With a knowledgeable
partner in technology, we can now look
to the future knowing we will be well-equipped to educate our students.
As you continue to lead your institutions into the future, I encourage you to
look critically at your current processes and
make sure your efforts in technology are
aligned with your institutional mission.
We have a great resource in the American
Association of Community Colleges (AACC)
allowing us to connect with sister institutions to discover best practices in technology. Together, our institutions are able to
remain at the cutting edge of education
and provide our students with the tools
they need to progress and prosper in all of
their endeavors. (Contributions by MGCCC
Mary S. Graham is president of Mississippi Gulf Coast
Community College and chair of the AACC Board of Directors.
Leading your institutions
into the future
Mary S. Graham
SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
DIREC TOR OF PUBLICATIONS
John T. Dever
Mary S. Graham
Nicola C. Richmond
Emily Shenk Flory
RR Donnelley–Liberty, Mo.
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