Finding your swing: Seven lessons IT Staff and Faculty can learn from The Boys in the Boat

(Keynote address from the 2015 NWACC IT Roundtable)

University IT staff are committed to helping faculty integrate technology into their instruction. EDUCAUSE’s 2015 Top IT Issues lists “optimizing the use of technology in teaching and learning in collaboration with academic leadership, including understanding the appropriate level of technology to use” (Grajek, 2015, p. 12) as the second most important issue facing IT departments. However, faculty may be resistant to change that focuses on optimization and appropriateness rather than research-based pedagogy. They may wonder why IT only wants to work with “academic leadership” instead of the entire faculty. Pedagogical innovations fall short when groups with similar goals fail to communicate and work together as a team. How can we as NWACC IT staff and faculty avoid common pitfalls and flourish as a cohesive team? Maybe we just need to “find our swing.” In 1936 a relatively unknown rowing coach from the University of Washington, an English boatbuilder, and a team of nine boys who lacked traditional rowing pedigrees surprised the world and delighted their country by “finding their swing” and winning a gold medal in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. In The Boys in the Boat, Daniel James Brown shares a historical account of this amazing feat that includes many life lessons, some which may help us better understand techniques and training regimens that will help us “find our swing.”



    1. Thanks Liz, initially I was reading the book to avoid working on the lecture but then I started seeing all of the connections. On a side note, at the start of the lecture I asked how many in the audience had read the book. When only a couple of hands went up I thought I was in big trouble but it worked out in the end. During the past year I have run into several people who were in the audience and have shared with me that they have now read the book.

        1. Thanks, using the book to create the lecture was a lot of fun. I hope you can come the next time I speak.

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