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Is Your Hall as Cool as an iPad?

Okay. Part of this post is due to the fact that we didn’t want to be the only blog in the blogisphere to NOT have a post about the iPad. But it also came to mind as I was reading this post in the all-things-tech blog Gizmodo. In the story (as well as this one here) the authors discuss what constitutes “good” design and whether or not the iPad conforms to those rules.

The writers go back to the principles of designer Dieter Rams — who is famous for his Braun product designs of the 1950s and ’60s — who had 10 rules for good design. According to Rams:

  • Good design is innovative.
  • Good design makes a product useful.
  • Good design is aesthetic.
  • Good design helps us to understand a product.
  • Good design is unobtrusive.
  • Good design is honest.
  • Good design is durable.
  • Good design is consequent to the last detail.
  • Good design is concerned with the environment.
  • Good design is as little design as possible.

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Reflections on Training and Opening

Since we just finished training our staff, opening our halls, and welcoming our students back to Ohio State, I thought I would take a minute to reflect on how training and opening have changed this year. Yes, folks, we just opened! We will only open in late September for two more years.  In the fall of 2012, we will be opening on the semester timeline.  The “semester conversion” process could be a different blog altogether so I won’t go there.  Let me focus on training and opening for now.

Although much of our training was very similar to years past, there was one very distinct difference.  We, as presenters and organizers, were challenged to do it differently. Like most institutions we approached training in the, “Okay, here we go again!” kind of way, rolling out our old schedules, calling up the previous presenters, and maybe doing a new icebreaker or renaming an activity. Since we are always training new people and for the most part our processes, policies, and campus services to students doesn’t change, it was easy to just keep doing the same old thing.

This year, though, with new leadership, came a new perspective on what we do. We asked new questions about why we do it that way and discussed new challenges to show current research that grounds our practice and did a little bit of groaning about having to sit and listen to the same thing for the nth year in a row (from our current staff, not our new leadership). Now, this is my 12th training at OSU and I can honestly say that I have learned something new every year or have had training spark something new, but I can also honestly say that there were times, when my thought was, “been there, done that.”  And, if I am being truly honest, I was a little annoyed that I actually had to think about what I was presenting  This is the true issue about change. It’s annoying and time-consuming to have to think and use your brain sometimes.

So, each of us presenting took time to think about what we had said in year’s past. Was it true anymore?  Why do we do it that way?  Is there a better way? Was it relevant to this group of students anymore? And, after having spent this energy reworking things, I have to say that I saw more energetic faces, received more compliments from returning staff, and in general felt that the staff seemed to get it!  Whodathunk?  I guess taking an old antique and refinishing and upholstering and making it modern, really does spice up a room. Good to know.

We also had one other change in this busy time: opening!  At OSU, we have assisted move-in, which you have probably already heard about, but just in case, here’s a synopsis.  Basically, students check-in and get their keys at a central location and are then guided through campus to their residence hall, where volunteer students unload their car, truck, rental van, and — in some cases — U-Haul trailer for them.  It’s a great way to welcome approximately 10,000 students back to campus. Normally, this event is organized and staffed by colleagues in student life, allowing all the residence life staff (in-hall and central staff) to be available to meet and greet students and parents and resolve problems.

This year, the central staff partnered with our student life colleagues to actually run a particular area of campus in their assisted move-in. At first, I was a bit bummed that I wasn’t going to be able to check-in on my staff, feel the pulse of campus, and in general be free to roam campus. But, I have to tell you that it was a great experience. I now understand how much work and energy goes into organizing this process and the best part is that I now have a much better working relationship with colleagues I have never met before. To me, this is critical. I can get a lot more done across our large, bureaucratic campus to benefit students when I know the other person on the phone or I understand the demands and priorities of their office.

Don’t get me wrong, amidst training, central responsibilities, H1N1/ILI planning, and getting prepped for the fall quarter, it sometimes felt like a lot more energy and work got added to our plate. But now that it’s over, I can see what we might do differently next year and I can see that there is more good to this than bad. And it’s great to be a member of the team instead of just watching the team.