Did you ever walk out of your residence in the morning and forget to grab your PDA from the charging station? What’s your first reaction? My reaction is how fast can I make the turnaround to retrieve it. It’s gotten to the point where I’m not complete without my PDA, and isn’t that tragic? What has happened?
Our expectations for immediate information are slightly skewed these days. We expect to get and receive responses almost immediately. That expectation applies to our students as well. We try very hard to respond promptly. Again, what has happened? I guess we live life in an instant message environment.
TCL’s enrollment grew 65% in the recent six years, which made us the fastest growing Technical College in South Carolina and number 26 of the fastest growing colleges in the nation among community colleges our same size. During those same six years, TCL had no increases in staff positions. The severe budget cuts did not allow us to expand in the same proportions for support staff positions. That simply means that everyone is working harder serving more students – and at the same time – working smarter. Technology helps us accomplish smarter working habits; yet, it’s difficult to provide that instant response that clients demand especially during peak times. We try hard to please, and we’re getting better.
New technology will be added very soon in the form of software upgrades to improve TCL’s voice mail system. The upgrade is needed and should help us collect and coordinate our responses to incoming phone calls, thanks to economic stimulus dollars provided through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA). We believe this is a wise investment. Still, there are other forms of inquiry that fly at us from every direction, and we are giving it our best to respond.
Technology offers solutions. It also creates new pressures and new expectations. For me, only when there is a device that sounds a warning signal when I leave my house in the morning without my PDA will the technology circle be complete. For now I guess I’ll have to revert to tying the string around my finger. Now there’s another form of technology – the string. Remember when string was the connective device we once tied between tin cans to experiment sound wave communication?