In mid-July I spent four days in Arizona with a group of faculty
and staff from 50+ institutions. We were a diverse group (from tiny
private college to the Australian National University) with the
common interest of using Technology in Higher Education. The occasion
was the second annual meeting of the American Association for Higher
Education (AAHE) workshop devoted to their "Teaching, Learning &
Technology Roundtable" (TLTR). AAHE believes (and I now believe as
well) that there is great benefit for institutions to form a group
whose focus is to develop ideas and strategies which will allow the
institution to address the difficult issues of when, how and where to
use educational technology. They call it a Roundtable to distinguish
it from the usual committee.
The workshop provided a workbook (which I'm happy to share) which suggests who should participate as well as the kinds of questions and operations which will help the roundtable work effectively. In a large number of large and small sessions an enormous number of issues were raised and quite a few solutions suggested. What follows is not an attempt to summarize everything that occurred. Rather, it highlights things that I found intriguing and to suggest some steps that Drexel might take.
Drexel has a number of committees which are charged with various
activities related to the use of technology in education. These
include the Microcomputer Policy Committee, the Computer Advisory
Council and the Teaching & Learning Committee. All these
committees have a useful role, but the experience of other
universities suggests that there is a role for a group which includes
members of all affected groups and operates in a specific way.
We need a ready way for communicating about issues related to
technology and education. Committee meetings are difficult for many
to attend. A listserve would take advantage of the near-ubiquity of
EMail and would allow communication between all members of the
faculty and interested staff. I would suggest that it be "moderated"
by someone charged (and rewarded) for doing so. It should also be
connected to a Web site for longer documents and a record of
You may have read something in the last several months about the
new coalition which has been formed by the governors of many of the
western states. Initially it promises 'merely' to coordinate the
offerings of many of the post-secondary institutions in those states
so that students can get a degree taking courses from multiple
sources. To do so the mechanics are being created to allow course
offerings created not only in existing higher education institutions,
but also from commercial sources as well.
I believe that this is a very significant development in alternative ways of offering degrees, one which merits close study by institutions like ours. The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education provides more detailed information..
Annenberg/CPB has undertaken to create a set of tools (primarily
survey questions) to allow those who are experimenting with
technology in education to document the effects. The product will
initially be a CD-Rom which will allow users to generate a survey
questionnaire from an "item bank" of questions which have been tested
both for reliability and meaningfulness at five disparate schools who
have helped develop the questions.
The CD should be available this fall (price uncertain) and should be extremely helpful to those who are innovating and wish to understand its effects. I was very impressed with the care being taken to develop it and the effort to make it relatively easy to use.
I have a copy of the draft materials which anyone is welcome to review if you are interested. You can also find more information on the Annenberg/CPB site under the their evaluation/research subheading
Curator: James E. Mitchell - Drexel University
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