Kenneth C. Green
Use and appropriation of technology in higher education. The Campus Computing Project
There is an increasing acknowledgement that students in distance education are doing better than in traditional education. But, is this true? Or, even more important, is this relevant? Should the how or the where people learn be important at all? And, if it is true, why is it so?
We are living the fourth decade of the ICT Revolution, a revolution that began back in the 1980s:
- 1980s Personal computers.
- 1990s Internet.
- 2000s Wireless and mobility.
- 2010s Social media.
Technology has shifted from being nice and convenient to being compelling and obligatory. And we have shifted from big aspirations of ICTs in education and learning, to assessment and accountability.
We have to balance high tech with high touch. Teaching is a “high touch” profession, and the more tech we put into it, the more touch has to be delivered to balance de output. High tech + high touch = tech-enabled high touch.
Technology is a conversation about change. Technology is also a metaphor of risk. Innovation is about gathering information to reduce the uncertainty about the advantages and disadvantages of innovation itself. Innovation must be safe: we build an infrastructure, a safety net so that innovation is safe for everyone, to let people innovate without people risking too much.
Key issues in technology in higher education:
- The consumer experience now defines (rising) expectations about IT resources and services.
- Rising pressure for education to provide the much promised productivity for all the ICT spending.
- Why don’t teachers and professors make more effective use of technology in instruction?
- Why don’t schools and colleges make more effective use of IT in operations and management?
Some problems or dilemmas of innovation in education:
- We have “legacy systems” that are clear barriers to innovation, to change: professors, classrooms, buildings and campuses.
- We have tried several times in distance education — handbooks, radio, television — and it not always did work.
Innovation requires infrastructure and an ecosystem to support it. How do we assess our infrastructure?
- Minimizing risk.
- Fostering visualizing the horizon we are aiming at.
And we have to provide recognition and promotion to those eager to innovate.
And to assess these infrastructures, we need data. But data not as a weapon, but as a means to know what failed and how to avoid it, and what worked, and how to promote it.
Rules for a Machiavellian change agent (J. Victor Baldridge, 1983):
- Concentrate your efforts.
- Pick issues carefully; know when to fight.
- Know the history.
- Build coalitions, make friends. Who can help you? Build trust.
- Set modest, realistic goals
- Leverage the value of data.
- Anticipate personnel turnover.
- Set deadlines for decisions.
- Nothing is static, anticipate change.