Tocking to Time

The problem, Gentle Readers, rests squarely (or even diagonally) with the ubiquitous ‘training montage.’

It makes us think excellence is a singalong away. Alternately, it may trick us to resist change, because innovation might be decidedly difficult. Epic music, after all, equates to an epic struggle.

The real truth of course is innovation is incremental.

Over summer, I converted to not only doing innovation incrementally but also designing incremental innovation into my life, or at least, my life at Victoria College.

We ask our students to do it all the time, requesting variations of “revise and resubmit the draft/homework/quiz.” Bosses past and present asked and ask for updated reports and rephrased paragraphs, taking the time to improve our work with the value of their expertise.

It may not seem epic, but I tweaked the way I recorded class data. I now have just a shade better insight on which assignment has the lowest average, and I’m going to make a rather small change in statistics classes as a result. Two small increments equals one leap forward for students’ understanding.

Our Quality Enhancement Plan has a new data dashboard. I wish you could see some sort of time lapse of that design process. It looks nothing like what it looked like back in April. In 2019 it will look nothing like what it does now. All the same, each little step, each Banner or Discoverer data pull and each line of code were incremental. Behind the scenes incremental innovation thrives. A minute saved here or there doesn’t sound very grand. But those minutes do add up.

Now, the results you will find in our dashboard are not yet what our accreditation agency expects to find. That’s okay; we have three more years to get it just right. We, all of us, are partnering to make Victoria College something incrementally better.

As our new students learned about active learning, they completed Pirate Orientation incrementally better at being students than before. As we find time to attend Boot Camp workshops, we walk out incrementally better than we were before. For the brave faculty who decide joining SEAL Academy Team 5 is right for them, they will incrementally innovate classroom learning and teaching. It is not about who we are now. Incremental innovation is about our journey to a more excellent campus.

Despite their general culpability, I couldn’t resist seeking a montage for incremental innovation. I remembered a song from my youth, although I cannot find it anywhere today. It was a story about a clock concerned with how long he’d have to tick (we perhaps forgive his math as he was just a clock):

If I’m going to tick, for one hundred years
That’s once each second
Sixty times a minute
Sixty minutes an hour
Twenty four hours a day
365 days a year.

That’s 3 billion, 153 million, six hundred thousand times!

This worried the clock, who stopped ticking completely, until a wise little girl reminded him that all he really had to do was:                 [Take] Just one tick at a time!



Matt Wiley is a tenured, associate professor of mathematics with awards in both mathematics education and honour student engagement. He earned an assortment of degrees in computer science, business, and pure mathematics from the University of California and Texas A&M systems. He is the director of quality enhancement at Victoria College, assisting in the development and implementation of a comprehensive assessment program to enhance institutional performance outcomes. A programmer, a published author, a mathematician, and a transformational leader, Matt has always melded his passion for writing with his joy of logical problem solving and data science. From the boardroom to the classroom, he enjoys finding dynamic ways to partner with interdisciplinary and diverse teams to make complex ideas and projects understandable and solvable.

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