Education Uses of Information Technology
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Presentation by Dr Dorothy Frayer for the AAHE TLTR
Information Technology Conference, Colleges of Worcester
Consortium, Fitchburg, Massachusetts April, 1997
Pedagogical Uses of Technology
Instructional technology creates a whole new world of
possibilities for teaching and learning. As William Geoghegan
pointed out in 1994, however, only a very small proportion of
faculty are actively using instructional technology, and these
tend to be "innovators" or "early adopters"
rather than "mainstream" faculty.
Although there has been an increase in the percentage of
faculty using technology since 1996, Kenneth Green in his report
of the 1996 National Survey of Information Technology in Higher
Education notes that the percentages of college courses using
various kinds of information technology resources remains
Presentation Handouts 28%
Commercial Courseware 19%
CD-ROM Materials 9%
Computer Simulations 14%
Computer Lab/Classroom 24%
WWW-based Resources 9%
As the Director of Duquesne University's Center for Teaching
Excellence and co-chair of Duquesne's Teaching, Learning, and
Technology Roundtable, I have been very much involved in
assisting our faculty to envision ways to use technology to
enhance their teaching and student learning. I've found that
mainstream faculty are most likely to use instructional
technology if they see it as a solution to a particular problem
they face in their teaching, rather than a "gimmick."
Kozma and Johnston (1991) conceptualized ways in which
instructional technology can support learning:
- enabling active engagement in construction of knowledge,
- making available real-world situations,
- providing representations in multiple modalities (e.g.
3-D, auditory, graphic, text),
- drilling students on basic concepts to reach mastery,
- facilitating collaborative activity among students,
- seeing interconnections among concepts through hypertext,
- learning to use the tools of scholarship, and
- simulating laboratory work.
I have found that our faculty find this type of
conceptualization helpful in seeing *why* technology might be a
powerful tool in enhancing learning. Lynda Barner West, Director
of Duquesne's computer center, and I have identified a few
examples of each of these uses of instructional technology to
help our faculty understand the meaning of these categories and
the rich possibilities they represent:
Enabling Active Engagement in Construction of Knowledge
- SimCity 2000 enables students to establish a city and
make financial, human, and ecological trade-offs to
develop an optimum growth environment. Each city is
unique and provides the opportunity to play out factors
such as education, public safety, and infrastructure in
different balances and observe their long-term effects.
- A communication professor who teaches advertising
requires students to locate World Wide Web sites for
various advertising agencies. They download information
from the sites and critique presentations according to
principles taught in the course. (Contact: Dr. Clark
Making Available Real-World Situations
- A Right to Die? The case of Dax Cowart presents the
actual case of a severe burn victim, including footage of
the injuries and treatment, and interviews of the
patient, his physician, and a lawyer. Students of ethics
and medicine are challenged to decide whether or not they
agree with the patient's wish to stop his painful
treatment and die. They are then presented with
- A physical therapy professor creates a World Wide Web
site providing a self-contained lesson on rheumatoid
arthritis. Included at this site is a video of an actual
patient history interview, x-rays, and photos as well as
Providing Representations in Multiple Modalities
- Mathematica software enables students to see a graphical
representation of any function. By changing equations or
using different values for variables, students develop a
deeper understanding of mathematics by viewing changes in
the graphical representations.
- A key understanding in pharmacy education is that the
action of drugs depends on the "fit" between
particular molecules in the body and the molecular
structure of drugs...in a kind of "lock and
key" relationship. However, students often have
difficulty visualizing molecules as three-dimensional
objects. A pharmacy professor uses molecular modeling
software to create self-paced assignments which require
students to manipulate molecules, developing visualizing
ability and understanding of drug-receptor relationships.
(Contact: Dr. Marc Harrold, <firstname.lastname@example.org>)
Drilling Students on Basic Concepts to Reach Mastery
- Software tutorials exist for many modern languages,
enabling students to learn basic grammar through
self-paced learning, exercises, and tests with feedback
about their performance.
- HyperMap provides students with practice in interpreting
geological maps. The software presents a series of
regional maps with dominantly planar contacts, then asks
students a series of interpretive questions on
three-dimensional geology and geologic evolution of the
region, providing immediate feedback on right and wrong
answers. (Contact: Intellimation 1-800-368-6868)
Facilitating Collaborative Activity among Students
- Classrooms of networked computers using software such as
Daedalus enable students to spend class time doing group
pre-writing exercises, electronically discussing
controversial questions, and peer reviewing one another's
- A computer conference is established among students
enrolled in strategic management courses in Korea, Egypt,
Finland and the United States. Students discuss topics
specified by the instructors, such as advertising and the
environment. They also complete a team project such as
finding a solution to a real-world environmental problem,
with each team including students from each country.
Seeing Interconnections among Concepts
- Victorian Web presents text and images of Victorian
England. Students can explore how the social context,
economics, religion, philosophy, visual arts, and
literature of the period might be interrelated.
- Inspiration enables students to brainstorm and explore
relationships among concepts through both visual
diagramming and outlining. Students can work individually
or in small groups to develop "maps" of related
concepts they have studied or to organize ideas prior to
writing. The technology makes possible moving seamlessly
between verbal and visual modes (left and right brain?)
and instant revision.
Learning to Use the Tools of Scholarship
- A vast repository of computer-based research data is
available from the Inter-University Consortium for
Political and Social Research for fields such as health
care, organizational behavior, census, economic behavior
and attitudes, and legislative bodies. Students can
perform secondary analyses on these data, thereby
learning how to frame research questions, analyze data,
and interpret results.
- Perseus is an encyclopedic database of Greek
archaeology, history and ancient texts with Greek and
English translations and morphology. This database
includes site plans, coins, sculpture, and poetry.
Perseus allows students to ask questions and seek answers
from authentic primary source materials.
Simulating Laboratory Work
- A.D.A.M. (Animated Dissection of Anatomy for Medicine)
is a simulated human being with all anatomical structures
from skin to bone. Students can explore various facets of
human anatomy by simulated dissection, learning how
structures relate to one another.
- In analytic chemistry, actual infrared and mass spectra
are displayed as if created by an instrument. Students
can query the system to determine the cause of a peak or
investigate different types of compounds. Instrument
simulation permits the student to gain experience with
otherwise unavailable analytic techniques.
Creating a New World of Learning Possibilities through
Instructional Technology: Part Two.
Factors Influencing Faculty Use of Instructional Technology
Although shortage of equipment, facilities, and institutional
support may play a role in inhibiting use of technology,
Geoghegan (1994) argues that the most important reason for
limited use is in the human realm. He puts forth a model of
innovation and change which indicates an approximately normal
distribution when number of new adopters are plotted against
time. Along this continuum, he identifies five categories of
adopter: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late
majority, and laggards. There can be a "chasm" between
early adopters and the early majority, such that the innovation
is never adopted by the mainstream.
In the case of faculty and use of instructional technology,
Geoghegan contrasts early adopters, who are risk takers, more
willing to experiment, generally self-sufficient, and interested
in the technology itself with early majority faculty who are more
concerned about the teaching/learning problem being addressed
than the technology used to address it, view ease of use as
critical, and want proven applications with low risk of failure.
Thus, University support groups should include staff with good
pedagogical understanding and basic knowledge of a wide range of
academic and professional disciplines.
A survey carried out at Western Michigan University in 1993
(Spotts and Bowman, 1993) lends credibility to Geoghegan's ideas.
Factors identified by more than half of the respondents as
important in influencing the use of instructional technology
were: availability of equipment, promise of improved student
learning, funds to purchase materials, compatibility with subject
matter, advantages over traditional methods, increased student
interest, ease of use, information on materials in their
discipline, compatibility with existing course materials,
university training in technology use, time to learn the
technology and comfort level with technology.
Why use Instructional Technology?
- Students can be actively engaged in learning, leading to
greater time on task and greater depth of knowledge
- Student learning can emphasize continuous improvement of
a piece of work, a concept sometimes called
"D.I.A.T." or Doing It Again Thoughtfully
(Steven Ehrmann, final report of Project Flashlight)
- Students can work more collaboratively with one another
- Students can be given more practice with feedback
- Students can examine their existing conceptions and
update or modify
- Learning materials can be provided to match the learning
style of the learner
- Self-paced learning may be possible, with study and
practice until the student reaches his/her "personal
- Classroom dialogue can extend beyond the time and space
constraints of class time
- Students can learn by working on complex, open-ended,
realistic (or real-world) tasks
- Faculty can restructure their role, using individual and
peer-group work or technology for some purposes, thereby
freeing time to make their unique contribution to student
- Perhaps most importantly, faculty find rethinking their
teaching an energizing and regenerative experience!
World Wide Web sites related to Pedagogical uses of
- James O'Donnell, a classicist at the University of
Pennsylvania, created this page to introduce, describe,
and exemplify new Internet-based resources for teaching
that are already available and easy to use.
- The American Philosophical Association provides
references for software to use in teaching philosophy, as
well as pointers to Internet and World Wide Web sites
with philosophical content.
- The Biology Software Laboratory at the University of
Oregon develops educational software tools for Macintosh
computers which encourage deep concept construction and
open-ended scientific inquiry. They focus on
investigation of student-generated questions based on
scientific and social issues, allowing students of
diverse abilities to work independently or in groups,
exploring all levels of concepts, investigative methods,
and critical thinking skills.
- Senior-level strategic management course integrating
corporate-level, business- level, and international-level
strategies. Students are actively involved with Internet
learning experiments and use the Web to locate business
resources worldwide. Syllabus, lecture notes,
assignments, student work, and links to related
- The University of Michigan's Office of Instructional
Technology provides an overview of "works in
progress," projects in a wide range of disciplines
which enhance learning through use of technology.
Includes multimedia databases, tutorials, practice with
feedback, simulations, gaming, interactive role playing,
developing and testing of hypotheses, animation, and case
- Reports for a CD to be distributed by Microsoft
describing uses of technology in colleges and
universities. Organized by area: education, language and
music, natural sciences, and social sciences.
- Articles and WWW sites related to use of technology for
enhancing teaching and learning in higher education.
- An online magazine featuring uses of technology by
faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel
Hill. New issues are posted bi-weekly with each issue
focused on a particular use of technology. For example,
the April 7, 1997 issue dealt with use of technology for
writing to learn assignments.
- Contains links to pages created by faculty worldwide who
are using the Web to deliver class materials such as
course syllabi, assignments, lecture notes, exams, class
calendars, multimedia textbooks, etc. Organized by
disciplinary area, from accounting through zoology.
- Staffordshire University Computers in Teaching and
Learning pages, designed to cover everything related to
the use of computers and information technology in
teaching and learning. Includes computer-mediated
communication, hypertext, subject-oriented information,
collaborative and cooperative learning, using the WWW for
learning and teaching, and distance learning.
- Article from CAUSE/EFFECT, Winter 1996,
"Reengineering Higher Education: Reinventing
Teaching and Learning." The premise is that
successful reengineering in higher education must begin
with teaching and learning, rather than administrative
- Article from CAUSE/EFFECT, Winter 1996, "Teaching
Via Electrons: Networked Courseware at the University of
Oregon." Describes the process of creating
interactive networked course material, particularly for
introductory science courses, and evaluates the impact on
Readings related to Pedagogical uses of Information
Bender, R. M. (1995). Creating communities on the Internet:
Electronic discussion lists in the classroom. Computers in
Libraries, 15 (5), 38-43.
Berge, Z. L. and Collins, M. P. (Eds.). (1995). Computer
mediated communication and the online classroom. Volume II:
Higher education. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.
Boschmann, E. (1995). The electronic classroom: A handbook
for education in the electronic environment. Medford, NJ: Learned
Dolence, M. G. and Norris, D. M. (1995). Transforming higher
education: A vision for learning in the 21st century. Ann Arbor,
MI: Society for College and University Planning.
Geoghegan, W. H. (1994) What ever happened to instructional
technology? Reaching mainstream faculty. Norwalk, CT: IBM
Guskin, A. E. (September/October 1994). Reducing student
costs and enhancing student learning. Part II: Restructuring the
role of faculty. Change, 26, 16-25.
Harasim, L. Teaching online: Computer conferencing as an
educational environment. Proceedings of the International
Symposium on Computer Conferencing, Ohio State University, June
1991. (Contact Linda Harasim, Department of Communication, Simon
Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia)
Kozma, R. B. and Johnston, J. (1991) The technological
revolution comes to the classroom. Change, 23 (1), 10-23.
Laurillard, D. (1993). Rethinking university teaching: A
framework for the effective use of educational technology.
Morris, P., et al. (1994) Valuable, viable software in
education: Cases and analysis. New York: Primis Division of
Perkins, D. N., et al. (Eds.) (1995). Software goes to
school: Teaching for understanding with new technologies. New
York: Oxford University Press.
Rosen, L. (June 2, 1995). The way to design creative software
for the humanities. Chronicle of Higher Education, A48.
Rutherford, L. H. and Grana, S. J. (September 1995).
Retrofitting academe: Adapting faculty attitudes and practices to
technology. T.H.E. Journal, 23, 82- 86.
Spotts, T. H. and Bowman, M. A. (1993). Increasing faculty
use of instructional technology: Barriers and incentives.
Educational Media International, 30, 199-204
Dr. Dorothy A. Frayer email@example.com
Associate Academic VP
312 Administration Bldg.
Pittsburgh, PA 15282
Phone: (412) 396-5177
Fax: (412) 396-6577
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Last modified: Tue Sep 16 13:41:57 EDT 1997