This paper is based on a presentation to the Directors of Educational Technology and Media in California Higher Education (DET/CHE) conference in Monterey, California early in 1997. It has been updated to reflect current knowledge and trends. The editors hope this paper will be of value to educational groups confronting similar challenges to those presented here. The Chronology of Innovations in Instructional Technology table that precedes this article demonstrates the increasing rapidity of technological changes that present unusual challenges to the education enterprise
Since 1956 we have experienced several waves of new technologies. Optical-mechanical systems used in audiovisual were augmented with electronic systems for video, and micro-electronic digital systems for computers. Emphasis on group presentation technology changed to individual and interactive learning technologies. The curriculum focus moved from teaching to learning, and from group instruction toward individualized and self-paced learning. The classroom and laboratory are merging with anywhere and anytime learning. Paradigm shifts continue to change the learning environments and create confusion for teachers and educational service providers.
There was a time when the AV Center supported teachers and the Library supported learners. There was a time when Media Centers and Computer Centers were separate operations. There was a time when colleges and universities were restricted to teaching in their designated geographic service areas. Technology has opened up the walls of the classroom, broken down geographic barriers, and changed the nature of instruction and instructional support. Technologies change so rapidly that the educational infrastructure must be reconfigured and personnel must be retrained.
In the process, there are casualties and winners. At Los Angeles State College, audiovisual operations were dismantled and equipment dispersed to teaching departments. The result was loss of access to AV, TV and newer technologies for the majority of faculty users. At San Francisco State, a management team met with a Vice President to jointly plan and update infrastructure and implement new information technologies. They set up an excellent program to train and support faculty.
The digital revolution requires new skills and alliances for successful implementation. Chief Information Officers with computer and networking skills were appointed from industry to spearhead the computer revolution. Many were effective in installing hardware and software but failed to meet instructional needs. Educators relearned what they already knew that learning must be the focus, and those who teach must collaborate in planning and implementation. Colleges and universities were given the resources to move forward; K-12 education required the support of PTAs, parents and teachers working together to affect change. Net-days, e-rate, and local fund raising have focused communities on the value of computers and the Internet for education.
Universities, colleges and schools on every continent have initiated innovative teaching and learning projects to test the new technologies prior to implementation. There is widespread support from professional associations, unions, parent groups and local industries for training in computers and Internet technologies. There are also many that stand to profit from the changes including entrepreneurs and industries that produce hardware and software. New alliances are being formed among individuals and groups focused on the educational mission.
Factors that Govern Success
1. Planning can go wrong. It is difficult to apply old thinking to new problems. Universities and colleges that have become learning organizations are negotiating the paradigm shift very well. Others are recruiting significant new talent to facilitate change. Some organizations are confused by multiple changes new leaders, new ideas, and new operating procedures. It is important for members of the organization to be committed and for them to move together. Changes made without involving and evangelizing may boomerang and have disastrous results on morale
It is arguable whether change should be initiated by administration or from the ranks of faculty or teachers. Every institution is different. Either way, there must be trust and collaboration. In most instances change that does not originate from the faculty. When faculty is not involved, changes may be resisted and will probably fail.
2. Cookie-cutter programs work best for the people that invent them. The idea of developing a replicable model is a hangover from the old panacea idea. It ignores local differences in students and community needs and makes all faculty, administrators and students equal in their ability to fit a cookie-cutter solution. It is difficult to implement a mature program without a buy-in. A systems approach, a learning organization, and a solution optimized for the local institution, are all tools for success. We learn from not only successes but also from failures of others. We must study, plan, experiment, innovate, communicate and evaluate to determine the most appropriate, cost-effective solution for our school, campus or district.
3. Integration of media and services is essential. Close collaboration and good communication facilitate win-win situations for students, faculty and programs, especially where expensive technologies are involved. Collaboration is easier to achieve in smaller and younger institutions. It must be integral to attitude and culture of the organization.
4. Build on strengths. Many institutions are examining their programs and communities to determine how technology should be involved and which programs should receive priority. Every institution would like to have a full-service program if it could afford the teachers. This is now possible through distance learning. K-12 education is using distance learning to provide courses not previously available to rural schools. Results have been excellent. Distance learning can also build enrollments that would otherwise be lost to other education providers whether in K-12, home-learning, or higher education.
5. Timing is important. One college campus spent $2.5 million to put on state-of-the-art computers on every faculty member¹s desk. At the same time, smart classrooms were opened and the faculty-managed teaching-and-learning unit offered specialized courses and workshops. The courses were superior in quality and faculty attendance was superb. Timing is a key element in system development, implementation and integration. This requires careful planning, excellent communication, and monitoring of feedback.
When you put these five principles together, it is clear that a systems approach such as the one suggested by Sengé in his book, Fifth Discipline, is essential for successful transition to the new paradigm. It involves research, planning, coordination, and buy-in of all parties involved including students, parents and the community. It does NOT require that ALL courses be taught in a new or different way. There is still a place for the superb lecture, the exciting demonstration, and the great traditional teacher. Learning programs should be responsive to student and community needs, different learning styles, diversity, disabilities, and needs of educational disadvantaged students. Schools and colleges need to improve human services as well as technology services. Our future growth will increasingly move teaching and learning into community and work environments.
We need new terminology to better describe the new organization. For example, distance learning emphasizes distance. We are using technology to overcome distance, bring learners closer, enhance feedback, and provide access to the unserved. Internet technology is providing new ways for students to interface and interact with each other and with their teachers and mentors. A term related to communication and interaction would be less foreboding than distance. As technology becomes user-friendly, and as we become more dependent on that technology for information and education, our learning organizations must become more personal and responsive. How many phones are ringing and not answered? How many clients are lost because of badly designed or maintained message systems? How many requests that could be handled locally are rerouted? How many problems receive attention when it is too late? Do our operating policies reflect user needs or institutional convenience? Are our policies and procedures relevant for the year 2000? Are our staffs trained and equipped to provide a prompt and courteous response?
The old paradigm for media centers involves audiovisual and television resources and services. Resources include equipment and materials - films, videos, audio recording, and more recently, computer hardware and software. Services include duplication of printed materials, audio and videocassettes, graphics, photography, and video production. The old paradigm for the computer center is the mainframe computer and support of administrative needs such as admissions and records and payroll. The old paradigm for the library is acquisition, storage and retrieval of on-site materials such as books.
Under the new paradigm, academic computing, media services and library are integrated as a one-stop service organization. Quality of service must be as equal as possible for on-site and distant teachers and learners. Instructional resources and library materials must be digitized so they can be accessed anywhere at any time for use in virtual classrooms and other distance learning environments
The new paradigm integrates academic departments and service units to focus on the teaching and learning mission of the university. This requires the blurring of political and territorial barriers that defined past battlegrounds and make way for updating infrastructure, operating policies, and procedures.
The power to change teaching and learning resides in the ranks of teachers and faculty. It is important to collaborate with teacher unions and faculty groups such as the Institute for Teaching and Learning, the Improvement of Teaching committee, and the Faculty Senate. At one local university, a Million Dollar allocation for faculty training was opposed because there was no faculty involvement in planning.
Technicians, artists and production personnel must be dedicated to the instructional mission and responsive to teaching and learning needs of teachers and students. Are timelines, procedures, and instructional support acceptable? Are faculty empowered to prototype lessons and test them in their classes? Are their prototypes used to guide production personnel? Is there an efficient and relevant response to professionalizing lesson materials for classroom, laboratory use, and distance learning?
The following is a plan for faculty support for the new millennium:
A committee of faculty innovators and early adopters is setup to guide priorities, policies, and procedures for the newly integrated resource units for instruction. These units collaborate to seamlessly supply four levels of technology - physical materials including print, slides and videocassettes; electronic media such as satellite, ITFS, broadcast and cable television; communication media such as telephones, two-way video, cable, and computer networks; and computer technologies for faculty offices, classrooms, laboratories, dormitories, and remote learning sites including software licenses, maintenance contracts, classrooms services, the Intranet and the World Wide Web.
As technologies converge, the units that support them must be ready to change. Library and media circulation functions are already integrated on many campuses. Their technology base will in turn be integrated computer, telephone and video information on a single network. Training and production units in the library, media center, computer center, and institute for teaching and learning, and teaching departments have the option of collaborating or integrating into a single unit.
The functions of this new integrated organization include:
Provide integrated library, computing and media support for production and classroom implementation.
Produce and manage on-site and on-line resources for teachers and students
Collaborate with faculty and students, administrative and system-wide committees in improvement of instruction.
Design systems of instruction in collaboration with faculty, departments, programs, and schools. Equip and support faculty-staff computing and production facilities.
Design and equip computer labs and networks for students.
Test and demonstrate new technologies and courseware
Train faculty and staff to use computers, applications, e-mail, authoring programs, Intranet, Internet and World Wide Web.
Provide instructional design services to assist faculty to design, produce, implement, and evaluate standards based lesson materials as web pages, online courses, and multimedia courseware, and use these in instruction.
Becoming a Full-Service Institution using Distance Learning
As a result of distance learning, small schools can now offer a full complement of courses, and students with a variety of learning needs can be better served. For example:
A student can be prepared for a chosen vocation or profession at the local school or college
A conflict between the teaching philosophy of an instructor and the learning style of a student could be resolved by selection of a distance-learning course.
Students do not have to wait another semester or year because a course is full. They sign up for an approved distance-learning course.
Three phases of change can be observed in academic institutions
Phase 1 Experimentation
Learn a new technology
and test the waters
Phase 2 Integration
Support locally produced
courses offered by other institutions
Phase 3: Optimization
Academia is finally getting the attention of government and industry to update its infrastructure and teaching methods. Teachers are experimenting with computers and multimedia. As successful courses are developed for teaching in campus laboratories, they are being used for learning at-home, in the workplace, and for anywhere-anytime learning.
It is clear that interactive digital technologies are powerful delivery systems for all existing media library and media resources, text, audio, graphics, slide shows, video, games and simulations, and tests. The Internet also brings new resources- global resources, and a new level of access to libraries and databanks not previously accessible. New search tools, processing tools, and virtually instant access are impacting commerce, government, and military operations.
Education will continue its traditional role of illuminating the culture and its values and preparing people for the world of work. The world around us is changing rapidly. To continue as a major societal force, education must be responsive to changes and adopt the new information and communication technologies to improve the effectiveness of teaching and learning, and prepare the students for living in the information age.