A lot of discussion has surrounded engaging a student population but not too much has been said about engaging staff. David Johnston said recently at the town hall meeting that staff at uWaterloo are innovative and are always asking how things could be made better in their own areas. This is great and I agree it is mainly true, however a lot of these innovations are not shared. It is entirely possible that the proverbial “wheel” is being constantly re-invented on campus.
I commented on Ryan Jacobs blog about this the other day. Here is an excerpt…
Internal conferences like WatITis help to expose innovation occurring on campus, but more needs to be done. The communication channels at uWaterloo are often ad-hoc and ineffective; mailing lists just serve to annoy. I know quite a few people who pipe mailing lists directly to a sub-folder they never review. But what is the answer? Staff at uWaterloo are very busy due to the hiring freeze, do they have time to participate in social communication? My hope is they will make time if a better format exists, we just need to discover it.
We all know that communication is important and make strides toward that goal, but is it enough? I certainly won’t be surprised when the “we’re already doing this!” comments roll in, but my point is I haven’t heard about these things. The new Waterloo Be Engaged initiative is a great step for a key issue, its goal is to create a community surrounding student engagement. Time will tell how effective the approach will become, but I like it so far.
On the Information Systems (IS) side I am keeping my ear to the ground for similar efforts, but at the same time I am thinking of ways to help. The current mailing lists don’t really seem to be working and committees are not communities. Will forums work? I’m not sure, but it is worth a try to get things going. We are working on building a forum at web.uw for web involved staff to converse and I am hoping to summarize monthly reports from the result. I envision the reports being posted to the mailing lists and given to interested committees such as CTSC and WAC. Time is an issue and reading is the first thing to go when the ToDo list becomes unmanageable, but if anything this would be a start.
I am very interested to hear your opinions and any other ideas you might have!