Change: The Inevitable Choice Forward

from Educause

If you ask people how they feel about change, many will say that change can be difficult, especially when it is rapid and unexpected. If change is difficult for many, then why do it? Why change?

We change inevitably as we age, and we change intentionally when we alter the conditions of our mental and physical environments. Positive change is a balance of tradition and innovation; society has shown it can adapt to new trends while standing on the shoulders of tradition. For instance, successful efforts to develop and distribute effective COVID-19 vaccines rested on decades of accumulated knowledge about infectious diseases and also on new tools such as geographic information systems.

Higher education institutions are also bound to change. They cannot be ivory towers detached from the passage of time and evolving priorities. If colleges and universities cared only about tradition, they would be isolated monasteries. If they cared only about change, they would have no direction and could not sustain challenges or accommodate intellectual, educational, and social evolution.

Rather, academic institutions serve as bastions of traditional knowledge and as creators of new knowledge that is continually refined. This combination makes higher education—especially in the United States—attractive to students around the world. U.S. higher education has led the way in delivering the right dose of theory, practice, tradition, and innovation, making it the envy of other countries.

We know that we cannot stay still; nothing ever does. As the philosopher Heraclitus taught us, Panta rei (“Everything flows”). The last two-plus years have been an extreme example. Colleges and universities—and many of their members—have been under significant stress due to the fast pace of change, the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the difficulty of not knowing the path of the virus and how to fight its spread. In many cases, we were together but separate—physically isolated due to social distancing or emotionally isolated while speaking to colleagues via Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Still, we came together as a community, we adjusted, we stayed put, or we went into the trenches and helped in any way we could. Change was inevitable.

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15 Comments

  1. The world has always been in a constant state of change, a majority of these changes are based in the discovery of new information. The new information that we discover will then lead to innovation which ultimately makes life better for most people. One of the biggest reasons for our more recent advancements is the availability of higher-level education and technology. Over the last several decades it has become increasingly important for people to continue their education past high school and into college. This shift has led to many people finding interests in things they may not otherwise have and being able to explore those interests and expand their abilities by learning from professors who have experience with the material. Colleges also give students the opportunity to find the resources they need to continue and make new innovations in the world. Technology has also made a huge difference in the ability of what a singular person can do, with the vastness of the information on the internet as well as the growing abilities of what computers can do on their own. As the world becomes more complex, colleges should continue to try and reflect this complexity in the curriculum they teach. The easiest way to do this by combining the two most important factors in innovation in our modern world technology and education. The only way for the world to continue to get more advanced is by people finding new ways to make processes more efficient and easier to use. This goal would largely be supported by a population that is well versed in different fields through the use and help of technology. If colleges do not begin mandating an increased use of technology within the classroom, then eventually they will fall behind the schools that do it first. This change can be very difficult for professors who have been teaching for many years and may have become comfortable with their own teaching style and may be unwilling to learn a new way of teaching. Which is why different styles of teaching and learning may take several years or even decades to fully be set into place. This makes it even more important for universities to begin this process as soon as possible in order to not be left in the dust.

  2. Change is a very important subject to me. For my entire life I have been afraid of changing, and wanted to stay a kid living with my sisters and parents forever. At points I still wish for this. But going to college changed my perspective drastically on the subject. after changing from a life where everything was taken care of for me and I didn’t have to worry about responsibilities to a life where I had to do everything myself or nothing would get done, I was terrified at first. I was scared about my new environment, scared that I wouldn’t excel in my classes, even afraid of talking to new people. I wanted to go back to what I deemed normal and never evolve. But that’s the thing about life, at some point there’s an innate sense that kicks in which tells yourself ‘I must evolve’. If I never did my true self will become dormant and I would never be able to unlock my true potential. There’s a voice inside my head that tells me I must grow up and become an adult so that I can take care of my family, just like they took care of me. Because young humans are not the only people who experience change. Everyone no matter what age are experiencing change, including my parents. They will get older and less capable to care for us, so I, along with my sisters, must fill in their role and care for them. It’s a constant cycle that will never end. And that is what’s amazing about change, it’s a natural cycle that continues life: the people who care for us will eventually be cared for by us.

  3. Professor Passerini, in her article “Change: The Inevitable Choice Forward”, addresses an important paradigm. She says that “positive change is a balance of tradition and innovation.” I would like to talk a little bit about the value of traditions and their effects on the successful implementation of change. As a famous author, George Orwell once said, “who controls the past, controls the future” (Orwell); knowing the past is crucially important when building a future. To many of us today, history doesn’t seem appealing as a subject of study. We oftentimes find history boring and see no application of history in modern times. Ultimately, it is pretty hard to make a “bank” by studying history or working as a historian. However, history remains to be an integral part of the future. By analyzing and understanding the mistakes of our previous generations, we can draw reasonable conclusions and build our strategy for the future. If we manage to critically approach the reasons why our previous generations have failed in certain areas, we will be able to make sure that we don’t make the same mistakes. Similarly, by discovering the instruments and strategies that our ancestors used to succeed, we can accelerate them and implement them for our own benefit. Furthermore, when it comes to traditions, it is important to acknowledge that traditions make us who we are today by giving us our core values, set of beliefs, and norms that we follow. If we as a society will attempt to build a future without those core values that are given to us through tradition, we will lose our perception of who we are. Due to the abundance of different multicultural traditions, people come out from different backgrounds and with a variety of ideas and principles. The diversity of thought and approaches to solving problems and inventing new technologies are only possible with the diversity of backgrounds and cultures that come from the preservation of one’s tradition. The collaboration of people that come from different traditions and schools of thought is essentially important for building a successful future. Without keeping our traditions, we will lose the sense of identity and uniqueness which will follow by a lack of diversity in ideas and strategies for problem-solving. Thus, staying loyal to our traditions, beliefs, and core values is necessary if we as a society want to successfully build our future.

  4. The Covid-19 pandemic forced institutions across the globe to reinvent their educational methods to adapt to the ever-changing world. The entire reinvention emphasized the necessity for educators to adopt new methodologies to create a more diversified, innovative, and inclusive environment for students and administration alike. While many institutions failed to properly enact such structures, universities such as Seton Hall served as pioneers in the future of teaching in the post covid world.
    Passerini explores numerous crucial tips for universities to analyze when structuring their own systems in today’s environment. She emphasizes maintaining a balance between traditional education and innovation, in an effort to stay ahead. Administration must maintain a priority of rethinking programs, by being open-minded to experimenting and introducing new ideas and processes. Yet reiterates throughout her recommendation about holding departments accountable to ensure its programs keep up with workplace trends and provide innovative skills. Administrators must maintain a critical and unbiased eye when reviewing programs for what they may lack, what must be improved, or what must be scrapped. I have often found that higher education is only viable when the education provided remains with the times while equipping students with marketable skills. In some universities, schools fail to provide students with marketable skills or tools for the workplace, making their education practically useless in the long run. Students should always be ready to adapt to innovation and stay ahead of trends within their field, especially throughout this technology era where tech and workspaces are continuously evolving. Entering college many prospective students fear the possible paths their majors may provide, and whether or not they will obtain job security in their coming future. Personally, I feared leaving college without the skills and abilities necessary to assume a high-paying position, or if such positions would lack security. However, after my first year at Seton Hall, I genuinely believe I have acquired newfound perspectives and skills which have changed the way in which I market and apply myself in the workplace.
    Another interesting tip entailed in this piece explains the concept of the LMS teaching method, which incorporates a push and pull system. Doing online school with my brother during the pandemic truly exposed that every student learns differently and at different rates. It also revealed that certain teaching styles have poor effects on students. Many students fall behind during both online and physical learning when they find themselves disconnected. Educators must create encouraging, and comfortable environments for students to obtain the confidence to engage in the content through various methods such as written, video, and oral work. Educators must also accommodate students in terms of information overload. Students cannot handle information overloads which can tarnish their engagement, grasp of skills, as well as their relationship with the school. Overload creates more stress and challenges for me and for many of my peers, however with notes, resources, and recordings easily accessible, it creates a seamless absorption of material encouraging engagement.

  5. With the Subject of Change, Change is good because it allows people to adapt to a new setting and try something new. However, too much change is when things start to get rough. With too much change it doesn’t allow people to fully adapt to the new environment they are in. With no concrete pathway, everyone is going to be lost. It’s important to experience change or else like the article says the world would be at a standstill along with people not making any improvement at all. In my life change doesn’t bother be, I actually like to experience change whether that be something as small as a habit or something as big as changing something about your appearance. I never liked being in one spot for a long period of time due to the fact that I’ll most likely get bored with where I’m at. I never understood the people that didn’t like change and just were comfortable with where they were at for long periods of time. With that you start to get too comfortable then that comfortableness turns into laziness then you won’t bother to try to change how you are. An example would be going to college, for me going to college was a huge change to me like learning how to live alone and manage my schedule while having some amount of freedom. I would say experiencing living in college has helped me in preparing myself for when I have my own place and start working in a professional setting. A difficult change in my life would be the start of covid when I was still in high school and had graduated in the mist of the pandemic during that time being virtual it was a confusing time having to hand in work from my room and only being allowed to stay in there. Overall experiencing Change is a good thing for a society but to much change can be detrimental to a society due to the fact that there would be no concrete pathway for the society to fully adapt and improve to make themselves as well as the whole world better.

  6. Throughout history humans have shown the ability to overcome change. For every time a difficulty arises, society has found a way to either resolve the issue, or to reduce the impact it has. It certainly is an evolutionary skill set that we have devolved over centuries. It is one of the main reasons as how humans are able to see rapid improvements in education and society. The Covid pandemic is an excellent example that demonstrates how fast we can change and adapt. Few people expected Covid to become a global pandemic. Many people believed that society was too developed to let something like this happen. Therefore, many people, including myself, were surprised to experience a national quarantine that lasted for several months. It forced change that many of us did not like, but history has shown us just how dangerous an outbreak can be without the proper precaution. All schools were forced to shut down and teach virtually. I was in my junior year of high school when the pandemic occurred. At first, it was very difficult for the teachers and students to interact and to have that feeling of connection. In return it also made it difficult to learn and teach. It took time for teachers to develop their own strategies to increase productivity and learning. Two years since the pandemic started, education was very successful to integrate virtual learning into our lives. Some schools and universities allow hybrid-learning and it allows students to choose a method that best suits them. It is now a norm for higher education colleges to allow on campus learning and virtual learning. The pandemic did not halt people from getting education, but it did allow many more people to receive it since learning virtually allows less time consumption. So, the article did a great job at analyzing how change impacts higher education. Colleges and Universities have to find the right balance of tradition and change to create an environment best suitable for their faculty and students. In order for change to be successful, we have to prioritize certain ideas and tradition. That way, if we do need to change, we will not create a new environment that we cannot adapt to. It is important that colleges keep this in mind in order to keep up with the demands of society.

  7. Within every community, individual life, or whatever the case may be, there will always be change. When change begins to start, opportunities also begin to present themselves where you can change and adapt along with it. Change, although intimidating at times, can prove to be beneficial for an individual as it allows for one to grow and expand their horizons. If we are developing ourselves or if the environment around us becomes stale, life overall can become stagnant. With that, the individual in that scenario becomes stagnant as well. Even if the change that eventually comes is not great, we can still benefit as individuals by embracing that new experience and learning what not to do. As a cadet in the ROTC program, the leadership we have changes pretty frequently. Some leaders I like and admire, and some I do not really care for. With that being said, the lessons learned from the good leaders are just as important as the lessons that can be learned from the “not as good” leaders. As someone that does not have a leadership position, I watch every leader and observe what they do so that when I am in that position, I have combined things to do, and things not to do, from all the people I have been led by. So overall, change will always present an opportunity for us to learn and grow. Sometimes we can learn and implement things to better ourselves, or learn what not to implement in our lives to better ourselves.

    • I was an ROTC cadet in high school and learned a lot about breaking out of my old habits and getting comfortable with the uncomfortable during my time. I agree that lessons can and will be understood, no matter who says it; I’ve found that to be very accurate. I think there is some sort of monotony to life when there isn’t change or when you are just comfortable and complacent.

  8. This was a very interesting article to read, because it gave some insight into the change that occurred on the institutional side of things here at Seton Hall during the pandemic. As students, we all felt the change that the pandemic brought on as we learned how to learn in new types of way. Like the article mentioned, I believe change to be inevitable and something that we cannot run from. One quote that stood out to me was the “if we invest in everything, we invest in nothing”. To me this means not only holding onto the old ways of doing things, but also moving forward. We must take the good ways of the old, and mix those with the ways we believe will be good in the future. The importance of priorities take extra importance here, as we do not have the resources to do everything we want. Like the article said, allowing us to personally detach feelings from certain things will allow us to truly evaluate priorities and where resources must go. Change is inevitable, so the goals shouldn’t be to not change, but rather how to change for the better rather than the worse. At Seton Hall, the faculty had to evaluate certain programs and their benefits while weighing those against the negatives of losing such programs. I like when the author said that growth requires investing in new technologies while also disinvesting from others. Disinvesting from technologies in the past which weren’t worth the resources it required is another form of growth. One major takeaway that I had from this article is that growth occurs in many forms and that change occurs constantly for everyone and every institution.

  9. Reading this article, I found it very interesting to see how some of the things mentioned I felt a relation to. To see things change during the pandemic education wise. As a student I felt that the pandemic taught me many things, including a new way to learn. I think that it also changed my outlook and process of learning. Over time, I’ve learned that change is inevitable, and no matter how hard I try to hide from it, it happens anyway. I feel like holding on to the past and what makes us comfortable doesn’t allow us to continue learning and developing. I think that we could take the old and reinvent it. The article mentions detaching emotionally from things, and I feel that I’ve learned to do that slowly during the pandemic. The older I’ve gotten, the more I realized change is necessary for any sort of growth, and especially starting my college career, I was afraid of change, and now I embrace what I have and will have. Yes, growth requires investing in new technologies and that means so many different things, especially in the pandemic learning a way to still communicate and get together even if it wasn’t in person because life goes on, and that was a big change I had to learn. Change is something that will never stop being, and If I would’ve known this when I was younger, I would’ve been a different person.

  10. These past two years have been extremely difficult for everyone, in the United States and all around the world. Since the first case of COVID-19 on January 20th, 2020 in Wuhan, China the entire world has changed as we know it. Leading up to the pandemic life seemed so surreal to me and I believe many others can relate to this feeling; Everything seemed normal. Lockdown was the biggest challenge to me, going from a normal schedule, always being surrounded by my peers, to being isolated, trying to navigate through an ever changing, volatile pandemic. The biggest change for me was trying to become acclimated with a new learning environment and finding the motivation to push forward despite a completely new educational infrastructure. The article I read for this blog comment was written by a faculty member at the University I currently attend, this article really spoke to me because of the direct correlation of change I faced coming in as a freshman at Seton Hall still navigating through this new way of hybrid learning.
    As a student who has lived through the changes in higher education here at Seton Hall, I found that Seton Halls approach to a new hybrid learning came easier than expected and it has to do with the determination and flexibility of professors here at Seton Hall. Being at a highly renowned east coast University I found that the professors here at Seton Hall despite also being affected by this pandemic and facing financial shortages, made it there goal to help us navigate through new education services such as Microsoft teams, blackboard, proctor, etc. and stayed dedicated to our education progression despite these obstacles. Higher education is the foundation for traditional knowledge and innovation, the ongoing work that is being done at our University and other Universities around the globe contribute a new era of learning, a new era of learning that is now concrete in our daily lives and will not change for years to come. “During this experience, many institutional leaders had to rethink their revenue models and the value proposition of their on-site learning experience, experimenting with new forms of delivery (e.g., the now famous HyFlex teaching modality) and with new programs, new technologies, and new ways to provide students with a full campus experience.” (Passerini). Change has come and a new era of learning is established, since beginning my journey here at Seton Hall I found that change has come easier to me, building me as an individual and helping me to become the best person I can despite hard and volatile times.

  11. To start, I really like commenting on articles like this because it is something that I can 100 percent relate to. I am afraid of change, but that should not be confused with not being acceptable of change. I am afraid of changes in my life because I am afraid of being uncomfortable. I can speak for almost the entirety of the world when I say that nobody likes to be uncomfortable. Change is something that happens all the time around us at a pace that we cannot even comprehend. Whether it be social, political, or even economic change, change itself is something that everyone must be open to. Change may sound scary to those who are not used to it, but change is good because it allows us to be able to adapt to new circumstances and new environments. This can help us with both physical and mental health as it opens us to new opportunities and settings we are not familiar with. Although I am admittingly afraid of change, I am also excited about it, because change can come in many different loads. Meaning if I change a bad habit that I have, then it will overall help me and benefit me in either a small or large way. An example of change in a bad way would be the effects of COVID 19 and these outstandingly high gas prices, but that is a change we are forced to live with for now, and cannot really do something about.
    An example of positive change for myself would definitely be experiencing college life. As a student here at Seton Hall, it has changed the way I look at life, and has helped me become more organized and more efficient each day. College has also changed the way I spend my time, meaning I spend more time on catching up on schoolwork and setting myself up for success rather than playing video games. The college change also showed me how to live on my own and not rely on mom and dad as much (which is a pretty good gig if you ask me). I had neve thought that I would get used to the change that college brought, yet I knew that I could not stay a kid forever. Everyone wants to stay a kid forever, but growing up and change are the same, they both come at unexpected times and are for the better.
    I think that people fear change because people are uncomfortable with the thought of being uncomfortable. People feel this because they lose the control/power they had before change, and they are afraid of losing that power. Now of course this would be the power to control something, and when people feel powerless, they are worried and scared. Yet what people do not realize is that this loss of feeling in control opens a gateway to learning new information, which is the most powerful thing a person could have. Overall a really really interesting and informative article that everyone should get to view this semester.

  12. Change is a very bold idea and one that is susceptible to be looked past upon and disregarded. Many throughout the world are afraid of change as it brings as it disconnects one from their usual views of life. It is important however to learn the benefits that change can do to one once they have embraced it. Change is often necessary for people our age especially during the times of going to college. For the first 18 years of our life most of us have lived in one or two towns and known the same people. We all had a daily cycle of going to school and then coming home at certain times. However once we all went to school we met new people, lived in different places and in certain ways changed our daily cycle of the day. Although it may have been confusing and in certain times uncomfortable, it is safe to say that most of us have now adapted to it. However, it was frightening at times for many as we had to give up our stature and relationships we knew back home in order to build new ones here at school. The changes we endure in college are very important because it is setting us all up for our professional careers. Once graduated, we will all have to adapt again to a different change in order to become the best we can be. There will be more responsibilities, but it will at times be welcoming. Personally in my experiences, I do sometimes long and wish for the times when I had little to none change as it was less stressful, but in the present I also have to be grateful for how far I have adapted and the freedoms that have been presented to me. Change is necessary and when one submits to it we will learn to embrace it.

  13. I place a lot of importance on the topic of change. I have always been terrified to grow up and have want to always be a child living with my sisters and parents. I still occasionally long for this. But attending college fundamentally altered my viewpoint on the matter. I was first afraid when my life changed from one where everything was taken care of for me and I didn’t have to worry about obligations to one where I had to handle everything on my own or nothing would be done. I was fearful of my new surroundings, afraid that I wouldn’t do well in my lectures, and even afraid of approaching strangers. I wanted to revert to what I thought was normal and never change. But that’s the thing about life—at some point, a sense of your own that says, “I must adapt,” takes over. My inner self would become dormant if I didn’t, and I would never be able to reach my full potential. A voice in my head keeps telling me that I need to mature and become an adult in order to take care of my family the way they did for me. Because change affects everyone, not just young humans. Everyone, regardless of age, is going through change, including my parents. They will grow older and be less able to take care of us, so I and my sisters will have to step in and take care of them. It’s a never-ending cycle that never ends. The great thing about transformation is that it is a natural circle that sustains life: those who take care of us will eventually take care of us.

  14. Change is something we all are used to. Sometimes we change without even noticing from the way we act and many different ways. I like how the article starts by saying “ask people how they feel about change, many will say that change can be difficult”. That is something that is so true. When making a big life change, change can be difficult. Like many of us had to make a big change from going from high school to college. How they make it clear “We change inevitably as we age, and we change intentionally when we alter the conditions of our mental and physical environments”. I think change is something really important to me. But I think change for me has been something that isn’t easy for me. Change can be a good thing or bad thing. When it’s my time at one point I’m going to move out and be with a partner and have a family. That is going to be a big change because it’s something that I’m not used to. From me being with my parents for my whole life and then it’s going to change. That is a good change but it’s going to be hard not easy but it’s a good change. Even when I enter a new environment it is a change that I have to get used to. Maybe at first I’m going to be scared but I’ll get used to it. Saying I am a shy person, talking to new people can be very difficult for me. We need to understand that something that we have to live with. That’s something that will never change. We may be scary and shy but change can be a good thing to all. Yes someone may say that it’s too scary but when change is done it’s a good thing. When I look back I am happy that I made that change. The article states “ Higher education institutions are also bound to change.” and if colleges and universities cared only about tradition, they would be isolated monasteries. If they cared only about change, they would have no direction and could not sustain challenges or accommodate intellectual, educational, and social evolution.” that if college didn’t change then no one would have to be there. Change is something that had to be done here.

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