Evidence for Campus Transformation Through Instructional Technology Faculty Development
Michael Rodgers, David Starrett, Southeast Missouri State University, United States
Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference, in Nashville, Tennessee, USA ISBN 978-1-880094-44-0 Publisher: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), Chesapeake, VA
Southeast Missouri State University is a public regional comprehensive Master's granting institution enrolling 8000 students. Founded as a Teacher's College, the University still provides a quality teacher education program and graduates a large class of K-12 teachers every year. At the dawn of the Internet revolution in the mid-1990s, the University found itself at the trailing edge of instructional technology adoption. Faculty interest in computer-based instructional technology was limited, technology investment was poorly funded, and technology infrastructure was inaccessible to large segments of the campus. Recognition of our weakness in instructional technology coincided with a growing awareness of the need to enhance access to education in our service area, and increasing concerns that online instruction offered by universities outside of our service region were beginning to compete for the undergraduate students that have traditionally been Southeast's clientele.
The University responded to the IT implementation gap with a comprehensive and inclusive strategic planning process. A University-wide Information Technology Committee (ITC), representative of all constituencies in the institution, developed a coordinated campus-wide technology plan that included a strong faculty development program. Teaching, Learning and Technology roundtables for faculty identified academic goals and priorities for integrating information technology with learning. Technology Associates, consisting of a faculty member from each college and school of the University, were charged with developing and implementing a Technology Serving Learning (TSL) program (the TSL Institutes) to develop faculty expertise needed to integrate IT with learning. All of these actions were supported by the University's 1995 Strategic Plan, which recognized the need to significantly upgrade technology for student learning by devoting one of the Plan's six Priorities to the problem. Two of the Priority's six Goals stated that the Priority would be met by extending "access to information technologies to faculty …by providing training opportunities and support", and extending "distance learning opportunities via technology."
Strategic planning resulted in creation of a comprehensive support structure for faculty seeking to effectively integrate technology into instruction. Permanent funding was procured, and the Office of Instructional Technology (OIT) was established within the Center for Scholarship in Teaching and Learning (CSTL) to support faculty. Faculty instructional technology training was delivered informally through the CSTL/OIT, and formally through the TSL Institutes. Those involved in planning and implementation opted not to act defensively, seeking merely to develop expertise in a few Southeast faculty sufficient to give the University an Internet presence. Rather, the planners sought a campus-wide transformation of IT use through the TSL Institutes, believing that many faculty - even those with little previous computer experience - could benefit from mastery of basic IT skills. By achieving a "critical mass" of faculty interest and expertise, Southeast might become a leader in IT application and innovation: the Internet was a new frontier to all educators, and therefore, offered opportunities even to IT newcomers. Through use of the Internet to improve instruction, Southeast might well blaze trails that other institutions could follow in an emerging field that had few established leaders.
The TSL Institutes were launched in 1997, and since that time, 279 of the 380 full-time faculty on campus (73%) have attended at least one Institute session. The Institutes were organized through collaboration of the CSTL, the OIT, and the Technology Associates. Inclusion of the Technology Associates in the collaboration gave the Institutes a distinctly faculty-driven aspect. Adoption of a continuous-improvement approach allowed both problems and new opportunities to be quickly identified and addressed in ways that befitted rapidly evolving technology, growing student familiarity with computers, and changing faculty attitudes. As a result, the Institutes moved in 1999 from a short course format to single-day sessions. The change better leveraged previous faculty experience, and improved access by faculty who had time conflicts that made commitment to a five-eight day Institute impractical. To improve the balance between technology and pedagogy, the single-day sessions became part of a two-tier model, in which a mandatory pedagogy session was followed by choice of twelve or more applications sessions over several weeks. To serve a wide range of faculty, from early adopters to those harboring deep fears of computers, Institute offerings were reorganized and expanded into a five-track program, featuring multiple sessions on Basic Computer Skills, Instructional Design, Basic Web Design, Advanced Web Design, and Teaching on the Web. Further improvements included online sessions, such as "Teaching in the Online Environment", and Web page development with our Online Instructor Suite (OIS) course management software. Follow-up support in the informal, comfortable work environment of the CSTL continued beyond the Institute sessions, with hardware, software and human resources all available to faculty.
Many at Southeast Missouri State University have claimed that Southeast has moved from the trailing edge of IT adoption to the leading edge of development and implementation. Further, the change has amounted to a transformation of the campus culture. To give credence to these claims, we have sought evidence in a variety of forms. This presentation will focus on how 20 items of evidence were used to evaluate the state of instructional technology at Southeast, with suggestions for adapting the list for use at other institutions. The 20 items are:
1.Evolution of Institute 2.TSL Institute attendance numbers 3.Declining recruitment budget for the TSL Institutes 4.Evaluation instrument completed by Institute participants 5.Number of Institute participants who later became Institute Facilitators 6.Number of online courses offered 7.Enrollment in online courses 8.Number of faculty IT server accounts 9.Number of course sections supported by Websites 10.Support for locally-authored course management software (OIS) 11.Quality and sophistication of course Websites 12.Changes in strategic plans around the University 13.Increases in faculty attendance and presentations at IT-related conferences 14.Increased faculty participation in IT committees and discussions on campus 15.Increased IT-related purchases and infrastructure formation (labs, servers, staff) 16.Student and faculty surveys 17.IDEA results 18.Faculty visits, phone calls, and e-mails to CSTL 19.Interest in the place that IT-related work has in Promotion and Tenure decisions 20.Promulgation of standards for instructional Web pages on campus.
The evidence supports the claim that Southeast has indeed undergone an IT transformation. The ability to support such claims can have important implications for planning by teaching and learning centers, and funding
Rodgers, M. & Starrett, D. (2002). Evidence for Campus Transformation Through Instructional Technology Faculty Development. In D. Willis, J. Price & N. Davis (Eds.), Proceedings of SITE 2002--Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference (pp. 722-724). Nashville, Tennessee, USA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE).