I am really excited and trepidatious about getting this blog off the ground. On the one hand I look forward to sharing my thoughts, while on the other hand I worry about finding the time to keep this fresh..
In this blog I want to throw out ideas, share observations and try to stimulate discussion. I don’t want to limit things, but suffice it to say that posts will frequently focus on Information Management, Resources, Services and Technologies. I have lots of ideas saved up from the first 5 months here at Queen’s, so hopefully the backlog can keep this fresh and I can commit the time to write.
A question I frequently get asked is: “What was your biggest surprise coming to Queen’s?” Needless to say there have been many surprises, but maybe the most pleasant has been the quality and engagement of the students. The continuing refresh of students, their desire to learn, and in some ways their naivety, are things that make working in higher ed, so enjoyable. I did my undergraduate here a long time ago, so I sort of had an idea about Queen’s students, but I was still surprised. It certainly reflects well on this generation, and where we can go as a society.
I have tried to engage students and have had many discussions on committees, over coffee or on the train, and I can without hesitation say they were all incredible. The students here tend to be engaged and extremely confident. I am really excited that we have set up a Information Services and Technology Student Advisory Committee to solicit their ideas. The first few meetings have been great
On the second day at Queen’s I was literally dragged in by a student in the ARC, while on my way to get a membership. This student wanted to share with me the work they were doing. They were working on the Mostly Autonomous Sailboat Team (MAST). The were passionate, articulate and incredibly engaging. I believe it was a 3rd year student who talked to me, and the level of maturity gave me a strong sense that this would person was shaping into a future leader. After that discussion I walked away thinking, I am really going to like it here. To top it off, MAST is a really cool project.
I have also had a few students approach me about developing a mobile app at Queen’s. These students don’t simply complain that we do not have an ‘app’, they talk about what they need, why they need it and how to get the resources. I think there are a number of hurdles around this, including long-term ownership, sustainability and standardization across platforms, but these become less challenging when you have this level of engagement. It moves you from a client relationship to a partner relationship.
To wrap this up I just want to touch on an organization that I think is doing some great things. AISEC is a student run organization that is “focused on providing a platform for youth leadership development, AIESEC offers young people the opportunity to be global citizens, to change the world, and to get experience and skills that matter today”. In a nutshell, the way it works is that, the local club (at Queen’s) finds placements for students from abroad. Each placement they find, one of their own students get to apply for a foreign placement. It is a great compliment to Intern and Co-op programs.
While at the University of Guelph we used AISEC frequently to bring in staff for special projects. The experience was very successful. As a reflection on the program, every single person we brought in was a success. There was never an issue, as they were all highly skilled, motivated and team focused. AIESEC was also a professionally run organization that provided all the services around recruitment, including obtainin a VISA and settling into the community.
I was recently asked to be on a panel screening about 14 Queen’s applicants. Over an evening, we watched the group collectively work on two problems and then we did one on one interviews. I had never participated in this part of the process, but now I understand why the students we get from abroad are so good, and well prepared. A great screening process, that develops the students leadership skills and really seperates out the high performers. Needless to say all the candidates from Queen’s were amazing, I am looking forward to our first two AISEC students coming on board at Queen’s this spring.
That’s it for now. In the future I would like to talk about Queen’s student’s perceptions around ‘virtual’ learning. Virtual is a term that has a unique conotation at Queen’s.