Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Necessity is the Mother of Self-Deception

 INTRO/SUMMARY We are all susceptible to wishful thinking and self- deception. It can result from external pressures and self- doubt. It can lead either to rash action or to passivity – especially when making major technology decisions in difficult times.  

Necessity is the Mother of Self-Deception 
[First published as TLT-SWG-70: 4/3/03]  

We're facing yet another "New Crunch" in higher education. We're feeling insecure in our professional lives and our home lives. We need to find ways, together, of making real progress without panicking and without sacrificing what matters most to us as educators, citizens, and as responsible human beings. But there is always the danger that external pressures and internal stress can lead to self-deception. The results can be extreme: rash action or paralysis.

On most campuses budgets are tightening at the same time that expectations are rising and options are multiplying (especially for ways of improving teaching and learning with technology). Even though the technology and professional development "Support Service Crisis" keeps getting worse, more institutions are trying to engage almost all their faculty and students in increasing instructional uses of information technology. "Information Literacy" is becoming more important, but is difficult to clarify and achieve without adding resources and developing new levels of intra-institutional collaboration. Some new technologies (e.g., cell phones and instant messaging) seem simultaneously to widen the generation gap and to offer creative instructional opportunities.

More people from more age groups believe they need higher education. Competition for admission to selective colleges and universities continues to increase. Many public institutions don't have the funding or space required to meet the needs of the numbers of students they are committed to serve.

Our economy struggles to "recover" and our country is at war.

Faced with general uncertainty, mythic expectations, and diminishing resources, we are all susceptible to the temporary relief provided by wishful thinking. We are bombarded with claims and distracted by hopes that new information technology solutions can solve major educational problems. Presidents, Chief Academic Officers, Chief Information Officers, and other academic leaders are sorely tempted to believe either:

1. "This new solution MUST be possible, affordable, and available – because my institution needs it so badly. We need to get started right now." [e.g., the kinds of claims and hopes made for distance education only a few years ago.] Or

2. "This new solution CANNOT be necessary because it isn't affordable, comfortable, or clearly effective. We can just wait this one out." [e.g., the kinds of claims and hopes made that most undergraduates will use the Web effectively when doing research assignments -- on their own initiative and relying only on the Internet skills they already have.]

Part II: How to Make Small Mistakes and Real Progress
(Instead of Big Mistakes and Fail).

No comments:

Post a Comment

What do you think?