Well, it’s a proud time for the folks at UMW’s DTLT these days, we’ve been a tight group, and I think our personal dynamics have as much to do with our success as the fact that we all share these common goals: experiment, iterate and open up. And I have to say it is very cool to see the feature article authored by Gardner Campbell in the latest issue of UMW Magazine narrate the genesis and realization of some pretty amazing work over the last five years. It’s always good to get some recognition at home, and we can’t thank Neva Trenis and Anna Billingsly enough for providing the platform for such a tribute. (You can download a pdf version of the entire magazine here.)
As for my part in the puzzle, it often gets over emphasized because I have such a big mouth and seek attention at every turn through UMW Blogs, but let there be no mistake that what has happened at UMW has everything to do with the formation of a sick group of folks: Martha Burtis, Jerry Slezak, Patrick Murray-John, Lisa Ames, and Andy Rush—as well our student aides current and past: John McMahon, Shannon Hauser, Serena Epstein and Joe Calpin. These are the people whose contributions are all too often elided by the Jim Groom factor, and let me tell you—they are far more gracious with all the nonsense and attention I’ve received at their expense than I would ever be, so this is both my apologia, and meager attempt to set the record straight, at least in this post 😉
And I think what sets UMW apart from many a school is quite simple: early on Mary Washington made a conscious choice to invest in people rather than technologies. That is the real difference in our environment, and when you think that we have a group of six people for a campus population of 4500, it quickly becomes clear why we’ve had such a great impact at UMW. But, I would be remiss here if I didn’t mention the simple fact that the UMW faculty (and students) made our success real and I, for one, have been riding on the shoulders of their hard work for over four years now. They refuse to stop innovating despite a 4/4 load and more committee work than any mortal human being should be exposed to. So while this is a celebration of DTLT—and rightfully so in many ways—I think the larger point is that our students and faculty have been willing to take this ride with us in order to realize some amazing possibilities for re-thinking the pedagogical paradigms through technology.
More importantly, this is a good day for everyone at UMW, we are an amazing school with some unbelievable resources that may not manifest as a state-of-the-art gym or pimped out dorms, but rather as a gritty community of people dedicated to thinking about the relevance and immense possibilities of a public liberal education for the 21st century, and we’ve only just begun that journey. Avanti, bambini, avanti!