Tuesday, June 28, 2011

[STILL] Unrecognized Revolution in Higher Education

The unrecognized revolution in higher education is the growing use of word-processing, presentation graphics (PowerPoint), electronic mail, and the World Wide Web IN CONJUNCTION WITH TRADITIONALLY SCHEDULED AND STRUCTURED COURSES. [See Kenneth C. Green’s data about growth in course-related use of email and the Web in higher education in the last 5 years.]  Many of the faculty themselves and the reporters who observe them have not noticed the significance of these changes.  

An observer looking in the windows of most classrooms at most colleges and universities doesn’t see anything very different from a few decades ago.  The communication between faculty and students via Email outside of class doesn’t show.  The increasingly common practice of putting some course-related information on the Web for student access doesn’t show.  The frequent student use of the Web to reach that information or to do assigned research doesn’t show.

Something like half of all courses in colleges and universities in the United States already involve some Email communication among students and faculty.  Many faculty members report two major changes:  First, the volume of correspondence in the form of Email they exchange with colleagues and students has dramatically increased – and so has their workload.  Second, they are also receiving course-related communications from students AFTER a course has ended.  [Note:  Less data is available about the widespread but un-publicized adoption of technology applications in academic departments where those applications have become essential for doing the work of the discipline;  e.g., accounting, architecture, music, geography, health sciences.]

Many faculty members, beginning to use Email and the Web in these ways, would answer “No” if asked if they use information technology in their teaching.  They don’t initially perceive these changes as significant.  But they are.

- from Observations Section of "A New Vision Worth Working Toward: Connected Education and Collaborative Change," Steven W. Gilbert, 2000-2006, First version published via AAHESGIT listserv January, 2000; PDF of full article

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