Despite my fears and complaints during the past year about the work we're doing here, there is progress. It won't look like much to some people, but given the enormous workload we struggle under, most of which is related to maintaining the status quo, I'm feeling proud of the little bit we've been able to accomplish so far.
Podcasting: I appointed a task force to make recommendations for how we might collaborate with the Campus Media Center to start offering scalable support. The group suggested three possible solutions, with varying degrees of associated resource needs. We hope to have a pilot project running by the fall.
Blogging: We're experimenting with Moveable Type. The infrastructure piece is finished. As we figure out how to support it, Student Affairs will be our test group. They hope to pick an incoming freshman who can keep an interesting and appropriate blog, and they plan to stay in touch with incoming first years partially through blog postings. Starting in the fall, we might expand this pilot to include our Faculty Institute.
(Aside: We will actually have first year students here in the fall. I mean, we have deposits from bunches of them. We are giddy with that success.)
Collaboration: I'm on a task force that's planning a academic resource center for first years. We're going to be located in the same office suite that will host the first year advisor and program coordinator. The plan is to bring together all of the disparate services offered through Academic Services, with the goal of helping first years get themselves oriented to the kinds of support available to them. This resource center (which sure does need a name at this point) will also be the main support center for our developing electronic tools - blogging, Blackboard, electronic portfolio (once we get there), web page development, etc.
(Another aside: I have done what I can to move us away from using the word "freshmen," and towards the less loaded "first years," but there's too much standing in the way. We're going to have freshmen, but I'm going to keep calling them first years until the tide comes in.)
It's pretty amazing to me to see that we actually are making progress, even if it feels awfully slow at times. I'm proud of my folks who have worked so hard to get things started. There's a long way yet to go, of course, but now that we're underway things will continue to happen.
Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now. - Goethe