There are Many Endings

 – “A wise man once told me, there are many endings. But the right one is the one you choose.”  Jennifer Goines.

I’m addicted to the 12 Monkeys.  Time may be a fickle mistress, but she’s awfully hard to live without.  At least the show’s writers think so.

Why am I writing about the 12 Monkeys?

Well, with a new budget model and university strategic plan in place and with an AACSB visit and end of my fifth year as dean close at hand, my mind has turned to thinking about what the next five years will hold.  What should the College look like in 2022 and how do we get there?  As General George Patton famously said and the 12 Monkeys demonstrates, “no battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy.”  But, that’s not an excuse for not having one.  It just means a good plan is a flexible plan…one that positions you to take advantage of a range of possibilities rather than forces you to bet everything on a single vision of the future.  Conditions change, you learn, the future reveals itself grudgingly…in fits and starts rather than smooth straight lines.  Ask Jennifer, she’ll tell you. (anybody see that season finale reveal coming?)

So, to help me and my colleagues imagine possibilities, I’d like some input from the local business community on what you see as the most fundamental changes you will face in running your business over the next five to ten years. Not changes in tax policy or government spending, but changes in markets, consumers, technology and delivery modes that influence how and where you compete and the kinds of talent you need.  As a business school, we have to prepare students to compete in that world.  And some of those same changes are likely to impact the fundamentals of our business (the business of higher education) as well.  I’m going to give this assignment to my Dean’s Advisory Board too.  The more specific you can be in detailing the fundamental change you see coming and how it will impact your business and how we prepare students, the better.  

Thanks in advance. In exchange, I’ll let you know how your insights influence our strategic planning process.  Let’s make the end of 2022, the one that we choose.

Change is Inconvenient

By far the most common objection to my desire to retire lecture capture is the “convenience argument.” It comes in two basic forms.  One is that it allows students to do other things during class time (e.g. Work, Stay at home) and watch lectures later. The other is that it allows students to see the lecture multiple times so that they can review difficult concepts multiple times and master the material.  In both versions, the assumption is that no other delivery mode can provide these “advantages.”

Lecture Capture was created in a pre-Google, pre-YouTube world.  It provided faculty with megaphones that allowed more people to hear their messages, people we couldn’t fit inside the classroom.  But in a world where you can search the Internet for a video on anything, lecture capture’s value is declining fast.  Reach is limitless and information is becoming a commodity. Experiences, relationships, and perspective on the other hand are not.  They remain finite, distinctive and transformative. If we don’t redefine the role of faculty and the classroom to create more of these things for students, our future isn’t very bright.  Why pay a middleman for what you can google?

So, we must search for higher value alternatives to lecture capture. Technologies like adaptive learning can help give students who need more exposure to difficult topics the opportunity to learn through repetition (argument 2).  And I strongly believe that if we make education more compelling and distinctive, the “I have other things I need to do then argument” (argument 1)  will slip away.  You make time for the things that are of greatest value to you.

My most important job is helping people see the future and to assemble the resources necessary to make sure the college thrives in that new world. Lecture capture’s days are coming to an end.  Not because I don’t like it, but because the world is passing it by.  Change is always inconvenient, but let’s not let the world pass us by too.

Lecture Capture Needs To Retire

It is no secret that I have been at war with the shortcomings of using lecture capture in our core courses for some time.  The Exchange,  Welcome to the Majors, Ambassadors, Career Days, and The Failure Competition are all efforts to inject more soul and discomfort into the student experience in the college.  They represent skirmishes in the battle to create a culture that differentiates graduates rather than standardizes them. Transformation requires engagement and doesn’t happen inside your comfort zone.  That some people want to buy education and not really consume it (I stole this phrase, I can’t remember who first said it), doesn’t change this reality one bit.

To fully realize the vision and transform all our students, lecture capture needs to retire. It stands in direct contrast to everything we are trying to achieve.  Can you explain “the four Ps of marketing”using lecture capture? Sure.   But, does lecture capture provoke  conversations that help students change their view of the world, see the opportunities that await them, and differentiate them on the road to success? Does it make students uncomfortable? Better risk-takers, collaborators or data-driven decision-makers? Nope. If you wanted to create the best undergraduate program possible  in 2016 to prepare students for what lies ahead, is lecture capture a vehicle you would employ to help create it? (Fill in your response here.) 

Is retiring lecture capture going to be easy? No, it’s going to be incredibly hard.  Small classes won’t pencil and no one is sending us a truck of money. Will it happen tomorrow? Of course not.  But, the secret sauce of UCF is that we are forced to create unconventional solutions to scale intimacy and by doing so, we invent a new model of higher education. Innovation, investment and grit are going to be key.  I’m going to need a small army to help explore alternatives and settle on a new approach that better achieves our goals in the next two to three years.  Who’s with me?

A Celebration of Vision

The biggest challenge any leader faces is to help people see a future they have yet to experience.  If your people can’t see it, they won’t work toward it.  If they won’t work toward it, the leader’s vision will fail to materialize.  No one achieves a radical vision of the future by themselves.

While you are out enjoying that, baseball game, hot dog or apple pie  with the family today, take a moment to admire the vision and leadership of the founding fathers who pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honors in the pursuit of a vision no one had experienced since the Roman Republic and few thought possible. They were the ultimate risk-takers, communicators and collaborators whose vision lives on in each of us.