Using Technology to Improve and Expand Learning for Students

Sunday, June 24, 2001


Facilitator: Mark Million

Recorder:  Bob Barber


1. What are your colleges plans to ensure that all students have access to the technology tools and training necessary to have a basic level of technology literacy?


The discussion followed two basic threads:

  1. What about physical access to I. T.?
  2. What training is necessary to ensure value once access is gained?


Physical Access


·         Schools can’t just assume there is universal access off campus. They should focus on on-campus access and make as many varied arrangements as possible for student access off campus.

·         At some of the schools, surveys have indicated between 65-80% of students have computers at home. However, it is well known that some proportion of these homes do not have Internet access and some proportion of the machines are out of date by today’s standards.

·         On campus or in community learning centers, schools provide access through open labs  (some 24/7); wired classrooms, network drops in hallways and open areas; use of wireless technology

·         No participants in the discussion indicated their schools have moved to rental or lease programs for students.

·         Very few cc’s offer ISP services: too expensive, security issues

·         For the 20-35% without computer access at home, schools will have to devise strategies for communication especially in the era of portal software, which tends to force everyone to a computer interface for a variety of interaction with teachers, students services, and administrative records.



·         Move Help Desk to library for easier access


·         Have servers for particular servers to play particular training roles (e.g. a server for practicing file management – a weak skill for many)

·         Seek special rates with local ISPs for students (and e.g. for DSL which is great for DL)

·         Make arrangement for student use of other public facilities like libraries, or private concerns like Internet cafes.

·         Ensure there are parallel communication systems for those without Internet access off campus: face-to-face, voice-based systems.




·         Just about everyone agrees that computer literacy is now in there with reading, writing and math as foundation skills.  However, the parallel concern with computer literacy, and perhaps even more important, is information literacy,  i.e. how to seek, find, evaluate and use information effectively. Some schools have varying combination of computer literacy and information literacy for their students, or at least for full-time students.

·         Schools are increasingly trying to assess the level of I. T. skills students bring with them when they arrive, and to define the level of skills students should have when they depart. Also, what difference does it make to be using computers in classes? Surveys of faculty and students can be used to address these questions.

·         Faculty should be asked to say up front what tech skills a course will require of students, or schools as a whole should consider computer assessments such as those currently existing for writing, with placement to follow. Another parallel technology across the curriculum, like writing across the curriculum. But the faculty must be prepared.

·         Colleges can coordinate with high schools. For student preparation, training high school teachers in using computers in their classrooms, for curriculum coordination.

·         Separate are returning adult learners from the high school whiz kids. Same curriculum different track…beginning classes.



2. How are colleges helping student develop the capacity to learn in multiple formats?


·         First, this must become an agreed-upon goal. Information literacy is multiple-format based. Multiple formats apply at course level, program level, institution level.

·         Working the faculty is a major road to changing students. Faculty must decide what formats are useful or workable in their courses – how the formats help achieve learning outcomes. From outcomes backward to class activities to what skills must students have.

·         Emphasis on learning, not getting through, getting by.

·         Hybrid (web-enhanced) courses – models the real world for students, helps faculty move forward slowly.

·         Put computer skills into non-computer classes – competency embedded in learning.

·         Publishers in many subjects are including CD ROMs.

·         Dilemma of senior older faculty having to struggle with the technology themselves, have little affinity for it. But it can be a new and revitalizing challenge.

·         Part-time faculty pose a different challenge: often not available due to other jobs, but sometimes they have enough extra time to be experimenters with technology.

·         Course content guides: common curriculum, different modalities built in or available. 

·         Students influence faculty by demanding what they get in other classes (e.g. on-line components).

·         The benefits of the technology may be intangible as well as showing up in measured outcomes.  Also look for long-term lifetime learning kind of use.

·         Student structural involvement in planning the learning environment.

·         Measurement of effectiveness. As simple as using PP format for organizing and posting material has been shown to make a big difference.

·         Learning-to-learn camp for unprepared students. Build in technology component.

·         Still unclear:  Does success in technology-based course (e.g. web-based) come through self-selection, or through actually learning?


3. How is your college using tech tools to promote learning communities and collaboration?


·         The Clue Train Manifesto

·         Hard Drive Café model (St. Petersburg CC) was developed to address several problems at that school: Lack of open labs, Lack of modern food services, Lack of student lounge space. They noticed in the evenings: library empty, but Barnes and Noble/Starbucks, Hard Rock café, booming. Solution: Design a contemporary food spot, with free computer access. Placed next to one-stop-shop for student services. Allow people to eat at the computers. That was the biggest fight politically. Creating in-place community with technology. In this case, it was a solution to several problems. Not every college has the same complex of problems.

·         Web sites for teachers, clubs, programs, Web CT, Blackboard, Listservs.

Administrative systems may need modification to allow learning communities to exist.

·         Pod arrangements in labs vs. straight line arrangements.

·         Use old Pentiums and old furniture to set up in hallways, empty spaces. Simple capabilities, not much maintenance.   Highly distributed but common space access points.

·         Spontaneous communities arising?  Starting out of on-line classes. Wake Forest example: span of contact. Each class prepares the work for the next class and stays in touch with them. He still has 70% contact with first section from three years ago.

·         In computer dept, second year students provide support for the first year students.

·         Standardize interfaces? Should be considered, but complex issues. List what will be supported? Let others go on their own if they want. Make the faculty decide what will be used and then support it?

·         In student services?


4. How do you ensure that your college’s tech budget is spent on tools and techniques that impact student learning in the broadest and most effective ways?


·         Committees or other mechanisms on the instructional side to enhance coordination and planning. 

·         Faculty have a instructional technology budget. Faculty-run servers.

·         Outcomes assessment should be used in a way to emphasize technology’s value.

·         Combine academic and instructional computing. Or separate them budget-wise even if in the same structure.

·         Various forms of college-wide strategic planning committees for I. T.

·         No matter what, there has to be a system underneath everything. No committee can ever be given that responsibility.

·         Analysis of ROI? Boards starting to demand it.  Can’t try to generalize too much. Illustrative examples work better and more clearly. But also can argue not so easily quantifiable. Actually the instructional ROI is equally hard to quantify. The issues like retention, learning are too hard to measure; it’s a simple fact of modern life that people needs the skills and the experience.  The environment for the future workplace can be the most convincing.  Also: Showing how the same number of staff are serving more students, larger enrollment.

·         Part of the ROI is what gets defined as the related costs.

·         Remember – all departments and functional areas could be subjected to same ROI demand – how would they answer?


Using Technology to Enhance Learning for Faculty and Staff

and to Improve College Operations

Monday, June 25, 2001


Facilitator: Mark Milliron

Recorder: Bob Barber

Resource: Alfredo G. de los Santos Jr.


1. How does your college train faculty and staff to make the best use of technology?


·         Among the approaches used by various colleges are:

§         making technology use an element of the tenure granting process.

§         providing grants or release time.

§         providing training programs that encompass short term immediate training or longer academies.

§         creating a special computer lab or multimedia center for faculty, staffed with specialists in software and/or instructional design.

§         Drawing on the innate openness of many faculty, their professional interest in innovation, and their commitment to their own lifelong learning.

§         linking faculty together for peer-to-peer assistance.

§         Grouping faculty into interdisciplinary groups to encourage natural faculty dialog and exchange among humanities and technically oriented faculty.

§         Provide differentiated opportunities for beginners, intermediates, advanced.

§         Database of faculty IT skills and specializations.

§         Ensure faculty know what other faculty have done for Professional Development.

§         Reduce the barriers to web page posting (e.g. highly controlled approval processes, standardization requirements, review of even the most minor changes.)

·         The use of drop-in labs:

§         Help move away from lecture format training. Better one-to-one, for the faculty. Also the tech staff have higher satisfaction.

§         When opened a multimedia lab to students, faculty participation dropped off

§         Peer-to-peer help

§         Release time to go to Virtual Academy (3 week intensive, how to teach online)

·         Using students to work with faculty?

§         internships for students in the media center

§         reference to TLT program on students becoming tech support for faculty; can be form of service learning

§         Humber: 50-60 students involved; all first level help calls answered by students; be there in 15 minutes, solve in 15 or get staff help

§         F-1 international students can only work on campus

§         Try to get additional outside funds for training aspect


§         low wage requirements, limitations on hours

§         potential controversy about students working on faculty computers

§         IT staff would rather see jobs but don’t have the budget

§         Even though some students have extensive expertise that could help faculty improve their use of technology, some faculty are resistant to putting themselves in the position of knowing less than students.

·         Ocotillo Project at Maricopa – how they got the faculty to start discussing the implications of ubiquitous broadband capability. Faculty-controlled process across the district. Lessons: the administrator couldn’t answer the questions, the faculty could. Faculty should be in leadership. Pair administrators and faculty so faculty have staff support and administrators learn the faculty viewpoint. Faculty wanted to go to open-entry open-exit classes. Forced them to work with registrar, financial aid.   The administrators never could have forced this to happen but when the faculty drop the process, the administrators were like the staff to help pave the way.



·         4 core strategies


2. How do colleges decide which technology tools and training will best promote learning at the institution?

4. What creative approaches are being used to ensure a return on investment for your college’s tech expenditures?


·         Deciding:

·         Decide standardizing on WebCT or Blackboard? Or neither? (assume can’t support both or all–faulty assumption?)

·         Does tech support ask faculty for necessary capabilities, then test? Or tech support decides based on what’s easiest for them?

·         How do we ensure the decision is not made based on marketing pitches?

·         How do we get faculty involved in decisions? Ask them. Give them skills to try and evaluate.

·         What decision? Made how?

·         Both parts of the equation needed

·         Recommendation: The Inmates Are Running the Asylum. Alan Cooper. How software companies

·         IT people decide based on their worldview. ROI will have a meaning to them

·         Faculty will have a different idea of ROI

·         Redefine the question: how do colleges allow faculty and staff to decide which tools will be allow them to best advance learning in their areas of responsibility.

·         Minimum standards for connectivity. Or allow other to use but central IT won’t support

·         Partnership: IT and faculty…will make better decisions if they work together.

·         Planned abandonment: we’re not unwilling to give up systems

·         Why do options have to be foreclosed? What balance of flexibility and control?

·         What needs to be standardized and what doesn’t?

·         Administrative systems, connectivity can’t be left to free choice. But that may not be true for all software or systems

·         One key organizational issue: Not just not leaving decisions to the techies, but also not to the early adopters alone

·         Learning Centered Infrastructures


3. How is your college developing a comprehensive technology strategy to create a more-learning centered technology infrastructure?

5. How is your college blending all the elements of its technology infrastructure.


Discussion in small groups on an ideal vision of the IT future


Group One

·         Assuming ubiquitous wireless and smart card capability

·         Total student tracking system: Hand held device: Assessment, evaluation at the start, and ongoing. Reminder system, checkup system, Expert system, AI driven. Highly individualized learning trajectory enabled. Like an electronic mentor. Ethical concerns over the immense database that would be required: privacy, security. Also: Why assume everything has to be electronic?

·         To ensure consistency of messages via web, phone, in-person: Need a communication plan.

·         Helps make students more responsible for their own learning.

·         80% on line simulation et. 20% face to face? (e. g. In lab situations)

·         Flexible environment that maximizes choices for students

·         Integrated with community, other higher ed., employers

·         Student portfolios on line for employers to select from.

·         Take guidance from community etc. on needed skills.


Group Two

Community of people learners or learner-supporters.

Heart of the community is communications – many different technologies.

·         Personal communications

·         Instructional support

·         Administrative (traditional DP capability)

·         Outreach to potential, existing, past students

·         Scalability

·         Training and education of those facilitating the system


Group Three

·         Learning space. Key: Ownership and access to that learning space is with everyone.

·         Learning objects (experiences, modules, outcomes) available, owned by the faculty creators. Students Pay Per View.

·         Learn by acquiring learning objects in their learning space.

·         Project space, course space, web space to display work, collaboration space.

·         Student services: multiple contact points.

·         Faculty roles change: facilitators, partners, designers of learning objects and space. Mentoring.

·         Project spaces: for collaboration.

·         Start in classroom, as advance, more and more independent.

·         Open entry open exit.

·         They contact us. We give them space

·         We gather information about them and direct them.

·         Flexible opportunities.