PSEL: Welcome to the Team

The first “real” PSEL meeting happened yesterday and I admit I felt overwhelmed with detail. I’m more worried than ever about keeping track of the notebook. But I also recognize the assignments as probably being more typical of what people in the upper tiers of higher education management are being asked to do.

The best part of the day was when we got to meet our learning teams. We got a chance to break the ice, and we managed to self organize ourselves pretty quickly. It was interesting to see how we jumped in at different points to plan different aspects of communication and hopefully meeting. I could tell that we had done this a lot on our jobs and were experienced at it. I’m normally a bit stressed at making sure certain details happened and have been told I need to be more flexible (point taken). It was a relief to see that my colleagues have enough experience that I could let go…but not too much. I still have things to do in this program!

Speaking of Details

Based on my Kolb results and observations from my previous life experiences, I am seeing that my focus this year will probably be on communication, specifically spoken communication. When our group was talking about preferences, we had a discussion about how much “research” we wanted to do on the job.

I admit, I like to do research and even enjoy it. The problem for me is understanding how to digest what I normally think of as a complex topic into something other people can digest, but still preserve some of the important details. This is especially important for educational technology issues where background details can be very complicated, but the simplified version dangerously facile.

Accessibility (making content usable for a person with a disability) is an example where I see this dynamic played out. Traditionally accessibility guidelines are phrased in terms that only a person familiar with the HTML markup language can understand. However, most instructors are unfamiliar with HTML, so it’s important to phrase them in more concrete terms. As webmaster of the Penn State Accessibility Web site, I try to make sure the content is more user friendly, but I am still editing the content personally.

So I guess a leadership challenge for me would be to better enable other people to write similar quality documentation without me needing to be personally involved in maintaining the Web site. Something to think about through the year.

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