Can’t be a nihilist in my chosen racket…


[Above, suggest you read this post with a soundtrack about trying to embrace a little bit of gladness… Song lyrics inspired blog post title too. But if you just want to read, we’ll allow that too.]

Since coming back from Mexico in 2000, I’ve had significant stints at three Canadian universities. In each case I was hired into a position that had been newly created. Each had a job title that struck people as odd. I have always been asked, “what is it you do, exactly?” My usual spot on the org chart has been a box to myself somewhere on the periphery, with no boxes below it. I’ve had a few people report to me, and led some fairly big project teams, but rarely had significant ongoing managerial duties.

The ambiguity has suited me over the years. But this unlikely and to my mind enviable streak of organizational fringe-dwelling has come to a close. I have assumed Directorial oversight for a team that will combine TRU Open Learning’s Production department (which does the heavy lifting for OL’s online course building), its Curriculum Media Development Group (which focuses on specialized curriculum multimedia work), as well as a couple colleagues from Media Production Services on campus.

I am only partially aware of how this shift will change what I do, or what effects I will have on this new group. I have some sense of most of the staff, and they come across as a marvel. They’re producing impressive work under relentless deadlines. They’ve already initiated efforts to harness the power of open education, WordPress and animated GIFs, so I can relax on those fronts a little at least. I have the luxury of getting to know people and their jobs better without feeling like immediate dramatic changes are needed. I want what we do to be informed by the people who who know their areas the best.

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That said, I have my hopes. I want our efforts to amplify the new possibilities opened up by the BC Open Ed Tech Collaborative. Having felt the raw power of really smooth open and networked practice, I hope our group may come to engage more of that in general. We have an incredible educational technology community in BC, a wild and madly talented world out there… it would be foolish not to try to benefit. If I do my part, it’ll be trying to promote those connections. So I think I’ll be blogging more of this sort of stuff, some of it here, maybe some of it somewhere else.

18 thoughts on “Can’t be a nihilist in my chosen racket…

  1. Congrats, in a time when legitimizing the field is paramount, I’m sure you’ll do all you can to stay the tide of anything resembling “serious tech.” 🙂 You’ll be awesome!

  2. “You’re drowning in the past, Brian. TRU have your lifebelt right here, it’s called the Eighties enterprise edtech and it’ll be around forever!”

    Seriously – whatever the underlying politics, this is an expression of faith in you to lead a central and growing part of what the institution does. You’re more than up to it.

  3. Congrats, Brian. You’re going to rock this. I can’t think of anyone better suited to reclaim an institution and harness it for interesting and important work. This post is a fantastic example – starting with complete transparency, and pointing to the bleachers. Awesome.

  4. An onwards. No doubt you’ll continue to ask interesting and occasionally difficult questions, and that you and your new colleagues will make new impressions.

  5. Welcome to the club, of managing, rather than making innovation in higher Ed, which has its contradictions that we will laugh about, together. Warm congrats!!!

  6. Higher Ed Admin is a place where they’ll pay you ten thousand dollars for a keynote, and fifty cents for your soul…
    hahaha – just kidding. enjoy the raw power….

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