Thursday, December 29, 2016

Learning Different Languages at Work

I have now worked with a variety of student information systems, the ones that keep track of grades and other student records of all kinds.  Along the way, I've heard the praises of CampusVue, and now, I'm at a school that uses CampusVue.  I have spent the last week learning a smidge of this system. 

I feel like it's a system like my brain or like my computer--it can do more than I will ever need it to do, and I don't even know enough to know what I might want it to do.

I have always heard that CampusVue was more intuitive and easier to use.  I haven't found it to be so.  I keep reminding myself that it's only been a week since I started using it.  Eventually, I'll understand it.  And I've learned a lot in the last week.  I'm that type of person who doesn't focus on how much I've learned in a week--no, I think of how much more I have to learn or of the times it's taken me much longer to create a student schedule than it would if I already knew how to do it.

Here's another interesting twist that makes CampusVue a challenge.  I don't have some of the permissions that I should have--and it's not a blanket lack of permission, but a student here and a student there.  So I can register one student for Winter classes smoothly, but with another student, I get caught in a weird loop--and it's not a loop that says, "You have transgressed and cannot proceed."  No, I get a more cryptic message.  It makes it hard to know if I'm doing something wrong or if it's wonkiness in the system.

When I thought about leaving to go to a new school, I knew that this transition time would be tough for me in ways that it might not be for others.   At my old school, I was the one with more institutional memory than almost anyone else.  I was the one who remembered the old course numbers without looking them up.  I was the one who could tell you why changes were made in various programs throughout the year.  I knew without a doubt which courses we had accepted for transfer credit and if you wanted a further justification, I could give it to you.  I had been part of several accreditation processes, and that gave me some certainty in my approach to accreditation.

Because I had been in my role so long, and before that, a faculty member for so long, I didn't spend much time second guessing myself.  That's a comfortable place to be--but it also leads to some complacency, some lack of innovation.

I am no longer the institutional memory, and heck, I can't even always get the various computer programs/systems to work like they should--but this process, too, has important things to teach/remind me.  Part of being a good administrator (or a good worker of any kind) comes not from our years of experience but from being thoughtful, listening to those who have some experience, and making judgments from a place of wanting the best outcome for the widest swath of population, while maintaining standards and looking up the policy to be sure.

It's a different language, but the larger language is the same.

1 comment:

Wendy said...

Tangentially, I have been using one form or another of Blackboard as for online course management since I started teaching college classes 15 years ago. Some schools had slightly different interfaces or tools that were allowed, but the underlying system was always the same. There are some things I don't care for about it (especially the way the online grade book works--I find it very difficult to use), but I know it's limits and my own work-arounds. My college is shifting either next semester or next year to a new system. I hope it is better and more intuitive, but I imagine there will be a high learning curve for all of us.

I wish you blessings as you navigate a new online environment.

(We use a system at the church for keeping track of membership and giving and all the other records that was/is expensive, was instituted by a former associate pastor who liked it but didn't do the foundation work of instituting a new system and then left, and that nobody likes to use or feels completely comfortable with. YET, when the pastor has offered to change to a new system, people are reluctant. They don't like this one, but they have gotten used to it and are reluctant to change, probably figuring it will be a new learning curve and it might not be any better. I don't actually use the system, so I can't speak to it or help with it, but It's interesting to watch the dynamics.)