Education Uses of Information Technology

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Creating a New World of Learning Possibilities through Instructional Technology: Part One.

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 relatively low:

Multimedia             11%         
E-mail                 25%         
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:

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

Making Available Real-World Situations

Providing Representations in Multiple Modalities

Drilling Students on Basic Concepts to Reach Mastery

Facilitating Collaborative Activity among Students

Seeing Interconnections among Concepts

Learning to Use the Tools of Scholarship

Simulating Laboratory Work

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?

World Wide Web sites related to Pedagogical uses of Information Technology
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 materials.
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 studies.
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 processes.
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 student learning.

Readings related to Pedagogical uses of Information Technology

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 Information.

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 Academic Consulting.

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. London: Routledge.

Morris, P., et al. (1994) Valuable, viable software in education: Cases and analysis. New York: Primis Division of McGraw-Hill.

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
Associate Academic VP
312 Administration Bldg.
Duquesne University
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