Although I don’t consider myself being very technically advanced, I do find that I’m drawn towards the application of technology. Through the taking of this class, my ‘strategy’ for technology integration has morphed from ‘How can we use this new and flashy technology in our organization to fix problems?’ to ‘What problem are we trying to fix in our organization? Is there a technology that can assist in fixing this problem?’ If that was the ONLY shift in thinking I gained from this class (don’t worry, it’s not), I would count it a monumental gain. I’ve learned that technologies are not destinations, rather they are avenues in which we can implement something else. Rarely is the technology itself going to fix problems.
How I’m Already Benefiting from Taking this class:
There are many tools in this class that I know I will take with me. Some of them I am using already. In my graduate thesis work, I spend a lot of time reading articles and recently published materials on the web. Diigo, a tool that was introduced to me in this class, has already proven to be instrumental in my research process. I know that in the future I will continue to explore the value of social bookmarking, although it is sure to rapidly continue changing, as with most technologies.
Some of the things I benefited from the class the most were actually in things that were not fully explored in the class, but that were found as a result of what I learned in the class. Crowdsourcing is probably the largest concept that falls into this category. It was through the readings and some brief mentioning of it in class that I became interested in it and continued exploring. It’s now something I keep a look out for information on, as I see myself implementing various ‘micro-volunteering’ opportunities in my career. How crazy would one be for not trying to benefit from this outsourcing of technology and content development?
The element of the class where we focused on a specific project is certainly something I’m already benefiting from. I know this will carry over into future work as well. Not so much the content of the project I helped with, but the steps taken in order to come to a conclusion. The process of building a strong business case for technology integration wasn’t something I had previous experience with, but I now feel confident enough that in my current position as graduate student and my future career that I will be able to present new solutions and technologies in a professional and sound way.
My Pursuits and Projected Benefits of this Class::
As I consider how to best position myself in my future career, I see myself leaning more and more towards the application of technology. This is not something I would have considered, even a few years ago; it’s been a recent interest. Although, ironically, now that I’m looking back on my education and past work experiences, I can see how technology integration has been a large, albeit subtle, element. I started out by having ‘knack’ for computers, as my teachers in high school said. In college, I worked for a company as their AutoCAD technician. When I graduated from college I began building things with technology. In an internship I aided the design and building of an interactive plant collections database that was made available to the world-at-large online. However, in all these experiences with technology (and many more not listed), I’ve never been in a position where I managed a system or managed individuals who are IT inclined. The more I look at the direction my career has taken me, and now in graduate school, I see that I cannot ignore these veins of technology that have showed up in my path. This class has helped to solidify this direction, particularly in understanding the need for IT as a manager.
I’ve always been a ‘nuts and bolts’ kind of girl. I learn software quickly and can do any sort of data entry, design, or project work on a computer once given a few hours to tinker with it. But to completely contradict that, my masters degree is taking me away from the likelihood of a hands on job to more of a managerial position. One of the overall concepts I will take away from this class is in relation to that. I may never have a full time job again where I perform data entry work or draw plans in AutoCAD day-in and day-out, but it’s through those experiences that I can take my basic knowledge of processes and applications of technology to better manage someone else or an organization that will require those skills. I have had many a boss who doesn’t understand the importance of technology, and I have seen the disasters this can create. I hope that through what I’ve learned not only in this class but also past experiences, that I can be a manager who inspires innovation and creativity in the use of technology and it’s integration within a non-profit organization.
Another key lesson I’m taking away from this course is the very nature of technology. I see that for my career as a manager in a non-profit institution, that I need to stay grounded in current technology trends and applications. This is because I now look at IT less as a new gadget or a new smartphone application, but as a whole. It’s like the wind. Where it’s important, you don’t necessarily see it. You see the effects of it, but it’s not the IT itself that you’re focusing on. In my career, knowing what other institutions are doing will be important, but I will need to stay abreast of what’s available in all fields. This is NOT because I will want to incorporate new and flashy things, but as the organization looks at their problems and deals with the struggles of a non-profit, I want to be able to provide practical solutions from what I know and will learn about systems, methodologies, and even software.
In my field, public horticulture institutions such as botanic gardens, technology tends to elude us. As one example, it’s only been in recent years that more effort has been put into understand the ‘online visitor’ of public gardens, where in the past this was not the case. There are still many gardens whose websites are purely an online brochure. They house information about visiting (directions, hours, events, etc) but don’t go far beyond that. The expansion of technology in other fields has begun to spark realizations for our field. I mean by this that the right questions are starting to be asked, such as: ‘How can we use technology to reach younger audiences or minority groups?’, ‘How do we use our website to further support our mission?’, ‘What needs are there in my organization and are there any technologies that can be used to solve this issue?’. My thesis research, entitled Evaluating Web Technology: the use and measurement of web initiatives in Public Horticulture Institutions, relates to this notion of ‘what are we using our website for?’. I will spend the next year compiling research for the purpose of answering this question, but more importantly, determining how most institutions answer this question via website evaluation. This course has given me a lot of insight and information that will aid me in this research.
And last, but certainly not least, I owe it to this class for my new found appreciation of Hitler and his aversion to the iPad. You said it Hitler.