Necessity is the Mother of Invention

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

I love it when inspiration strikes.

Driving to work. Watching TV. Singing in the shower.

One never quite knows when a spark of innovation will leap across the gap, and… wait a minute… aha!

Travis Peeples, our Media Production Director at Hendrix College, was working an event this week with several of our student workers. It was a three camera event, in one of our larger venues. Ordinarily, they would use a wired headset system to communicate; but the event that day precluded that possibility, as our mixer had used all of its allocated slots, and stretching our cables in this venue was not practical or workable.

All of this left Travis wishing for additional funds to buy a nice wireless headset system for our media center, when he glanced over at one of our techs, listening to music on his iPhone.

This was Travis’s Eureka moment.

We already had wireless headsets at our disposal, in the form of smart phones that all of our students had in their pockets.

Quickly, Travis set up a conferenced meeting, using BlueJeans (, and had all of our camera people and techs connect to the meeting.

Instant wireless headsets.

Now, we certainly weren’t the first people in the world to imagine using our smartphones as a group communication platform. But the point is, we don’t always imagine that these devices can be re-imagined in usages other than simply texting each other or snapchatting away the hours.

Ubiquitous technology affords us the opportunity to reconsider solutions that we have formerly relegated to single purpose devices and platforms, such as hardware clickers for classroom response systems (question: why would you ever buy a $40 clicker for each student in a class, only good for clicking answers to a proprietary receiver, when each student has a powerful multipurpose computer in their pocket – their phone – that is infinitely better suited to the purpose? Not to mention, free?)

I was extremely proud that in a moment of need, Travis synthesized the facts on the ground to come up with a workable, innovative, and sustainable solution, from the materials at hand. In higher education, we’re not exactly known to crack open the checkbook at a moment’s notice – so being able to “make do” is not only desirable, it is often essential.

If Necessity is the Mother of Invention, Imagination and Resourcefulness are certainly extremely close relatives.

Having colleagues as inventive, imaginative, and resourceful as our media center professionals at Hendrix (Bobby Engeler-Young, Sunny Haynes, and Travis Peeples) is one of the reasons why Hendrix College continues to be a national leader in engaged liberal arts education.

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