Friday, August 26, 2011

Happy Trails and Endless Learning Adventures

If you haven't heard yet, I'm packing my bags and heading west. I'm not stopping till I hit the Puget Sound in beautiful Tacoma, WA. After 20 years in the Sonoran desert, I'll be embracing rain forest where I'll join the University of Washington Tacoma as Assistant Chancellor of Instructional and Learning Technologies.

It was a very hard decision until I got there for a visit. A gorgeous campus, constructed from century-old historic warehouses, saved and transformed into amazing classrooms and collaborative learning spaces. A beautiful town that is rich with history, culture, green, the Sound, parks, distinct neighborhoods, and what seems to be an engaged, blue-state group of people. I think I can be happy there and change will do me good. Besides, there is increasing evidence that embracing change helps you live a long, healthy, active life. Time for me go.

Mostly, of course, I'm heading to Tacoma for the job. I'll have an opportunity to work with open, committed faculty and wonderful IT groups both at Tacoma and the centralized UW technologies at Seattle. Great resources are in place to create amazing e-learning environments. With these resources in place (nothing outsourced!) and a caring, learning-centered culture, I'll be at the corner of Commerce and Easy Street. All it will take to infuse technology into that mix is effort, passion, research and a few good ideas. W00t!

Final draw: the Chancellor at UWT, Debra Friedman, shares my vision of a HE that needs to adapt to the changing population now entering college and the changing needs of the society that awaits them. She wants me to help all willing faculty of the campus create learning that engages students not just a few hours a week in a classroom, but 24/7 whenever and wherever the learner is best able to engage. She wants programs that will serve the nearby military base so that Lewis-McChord soldiers don't have to end their education when they ship out. (Serve those who serve us.) She understands how hard it is for the nearby reservations to send their leadership away for an education when they're so deeply needed at home. She knows some learners don't thrive in a classroom but love to learn and deserve to have their needs respected in the educational system. She knows older learners have commitments that often preclude the standard "butt in seat" classroom time-measure of an education.

All this as way of explaining the where and why regarding announcement of leaving my beloved desert and ASU's fascinating, NASCAR-like experiment in transforming higher education. Kudos for creating a bold, brawny (perhaps a bit brutish) New American University. It's been amazing. I was here 20 years, I did my best, and now it's time to go. Happy trails. Do good, be good, be fearless, and have buckets of fun. Come visit in Tacoma!