MLC Old Main

An Internal Tech Summit Retrospective

The 2015 MLC Internal Technology Summit took place on May 26, 2015 and, I think I can safely say, was a success. However, just because something was a success does not mean there isn’t room for improvement.

However, I’ll start by just giving an overview of how the day was run.

  • We had half-hour long time slots for topic areas.
  • Every faculty and staff member was invited to attend any of the topic sessions.
  • Individual invitation emails were sent out to individuals noted as being key stakeholders within a certain topic area.
  • All members of our Technology Advisory Committee were recommended to attend all of the sessions and take any notes they wanted.
  • Groups were recommended to come with projects or ideas they would like to see take place over the next 6 months (or more), no matter how crazy it might sound.
  • The information taken from those sessions was to be used for strategic planning purposes.

One additional item was added the day before.

  • Lunch would be provided by the college for the members of the Technology Advisory Committee to eat together as a group.

Overall the entire day ran smoothly. We had nine sessions during the day (the ninth, Classroom Tech, was added late at the recommendation of two of our professors).

I am currently working through the notes from five individuals to see if I can distill them down to general themes from the day that we can “hang our hats on” for improvement in the future. That is a secondary outcome of the day along with the strategic planning implications.

However, looking at the day, here are some improvements I am currently planning on bringing to the tech summit itself in the future:

  1. Longer sessions. I sent out a form requesting feedback from individuals (anonymous), and a request for more time to talk was #1 overall. The shortness of the sessions was, in part, due to the want to have a single track for everyone to attend. This is one thing I do want to address in the future.
  2. Dig into specific projects. The explicit purpose of this tech summit was to get high-level project ideas. For the future people are asking to dig into more specific projects and topics to really brainstorm how to work on those areas.
  3. More faculty-centered topics. This was totally a blind-spot on my part, but the sessions were very staff-heavy to start, with the additional session providing the only faculty-centric outlet. I’ll be aware of the fact that I need to get some faculty members involved in the planning process.
  4. Larger venue. We used a single classroom this time around and a few of the sessions were filled beyond capacity. A larger venue will be required for the next summit, especially on those campus-spanning sessions.
  5. Get the date out there sooner. Due to the planning starting so late in the school year, there was not a lot of time for people to move their schedules around. Just getting the dates chosen and out there as soon as possible will be very important.

That is the what the future might look like for the tech summit at Martin Luther College.

Here are some general things I’m going to look into but might not make it in the near future.

  • Expand to two days. This would make some things easier, but also many things harder. It might burn out those individuals wanting to make it to all of the sessions but it would allow for a lot of in-depth discussion.
  • Incorporate into larger event. There is a year-end faculty week to close out the traditional year on the campus, and maybe there is room for the staff to be included in this and the tech summit to be a part of this as well.
  • Release a feedback tool. This is a longer-term goal for our department. We’d love to have a site where people can toss project ideas online, have discussion happen around it, and then we can “promote” those projects to planned, working on, or released statuses as things are done. This would help us to move some of the brainstorming to an asynchronous system while the actual in-depth discussion can happen during the summit.

Those are a few more ideas for the future.

Overall the entire day went really well, but there is room for improvement. That is sometimes the fun part.