The promise of information technology (IT) is to increase access to instruction while containing its overall costs and improving the quality of its outcomes–students’ learning.
Achieving all three goals will require rethinking and reshaping traditional educational processes and infrastructure investment strategies. Simply adding technology to current practices may increase the quality of instruction, but will also substantially increase its cost.
Likewise, treating IT as an isolated expense to be minimized rather than as a strategic investment is a tactic that is doomed to fail.
Learning Technologies: Improving Quality, Containing Cost
The Internet and its World Wide Web are today’s primary technological levers for both increasing the effectiveness of educational institutions and extending their reach. The Internet revolution accounts for the fundamental paradox that animates any discussion of how best to invest in IT as a strategic asset. Pat Battin has eloquently articulated that paradox:
“[IT] makes possible an unprecedented decentralization of technical power to individual option while at the same time it requires a globally coordinated infrastructure to permit the effective individual exercise of that power.”*
The exploration of these themes, which interweave social, technological, and political domains, has led the faculty and staff of the COLLEGIS Research Institute to help establish and participate in many national and international initiatives. The paragraphs which follow will guide the reader to papers and articles that offer insights into the Institute’s areas of interest and research.
The Institute’s founder, Dr. William Graves, was a founder of Educom’s National Learning Infrastructure Initiative. The NLII provides a structure for inter-institutional collaboration, and its Web site features numerous articles on themes of interest to the Institute.
The Institute is a major player in the NLII-sponsored Instructional Management System Cooperative project, designed to address, for instructional resources, precisely those issues articulated by Battin.
Jim Noblitt offers, from a faculty perspective, an analysis of how faculty and administrators can work together to set institutional priorities for IT and instruction in “Top-Down Meets Bottom-Up.”
On the strategic investment theme, Carol Twigg points out that something important is missing from campus technology investment strategies, in “The One Percent Solution.”
Bob Heterick, in “The Four Horsemen,” points squarely at the issue of faculty productivity as the key to achieving access, quality, and cost containment.
In “Why We Need Internet2,” Bill Graves, Internet2 Project Application Chair, offers a description of the important role this infrastructure investment plays in delivering on the instructional promise of IT.
“Distributed Learning ,” by Mark Maruyama and Diana Oblinger, with forward by Bill Graves, offers a comprehensive look at the role of networking technologies in education.
Mission of the Institute
The Institute’s research agenda is guided by its Board of Directors. The guiding principle is that online communication tools and online learning resources in the hands of good instructors and interested students can be used both to create affordable and effective learning environments beyond the boundaries of the traditional classroom and also to add value to the traditional classroom learning experience.
The source of opportunity–and problems–with instructional methodologies that take advantage of online resources is that everything is connected to everything else on the Internet. It is no small feat to create a holistic instructional environment that uses online communication tools, online learning resources, and online student services to create an effective learning community among learners and their mentors wherever they are and whatever their educational goals.
The need for educational synthesis and systems integration within the chaotic technological array of new instructional opportunities animates the Institute’s research program. The Institute’s policies, practices, and expertise combine to provide a pre-competitive collaborative environment in which colleges, universities, foundations, government agencies, companies, and other organizations can shape a common cognitive and technological foundation to advance their individual self interests in education and training. For example, the Institute provides a senior staff member and additional expertise to lead the development of the Instructional Management Systems (IMS) Cooperative’s technologies.
About William Graves
Bill Graves, in addition to serving as President of the nonprofit COLLEGIS Research Institute, is Founder and Chairman of the Board of eduprise.com, a company that provides faculty professional development services and related infrasturcture and instructional technologies to help colleges and universities incorporate online learning resources and communication tools into their instructional programs.
Dr. Graves came to his current positions from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Institute for Academic Technology. Graves has been on the UNC Faculty since 1967 (with a Ph.D. in Mathematics from Indiana University). He is on leave today after serving as senior information technology officer for eight years, founding the IAT, and also serving in a variety of other academic administrative positions.
Dr. Graves is a member of the Board of Directors of EDUCAUSE. He chairs the planning committee for EDUCAUSE’s National Learning Infrastructure Initiative and also serves on the steering committees for the Instructional Management Systems Cooperative and the ARL/EDUCAUSE Coalition for Networked Information. He served on the steering committee for the Internet2 Project to help initiate the project and organize the University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development to carry forward the Internet2 agenda and subsequent efforts to advance the Internet to meet higher education’s needs.
Dr. Graves has served in a consulting capacity for many institutions as they chart a role for information technology services in shaping their future. He is an accomplished public speaker on that theme and has delivered over 400 invited presentations on campuses and at conferences during the past 15 years. Dr. Graves has published over 50 articles on all aspects of information technology in higher education. He is a frequent contributor to CAUSE/EFFECT and the Educom Review. Some representative, recent papers are listed below in reverse chronological order:
- “William Graves on the Emerging Knowledge Economy” an interview in Educom Review, Vol. 33 No. 6 (Nov./Dec. 1998), 32-38
- “Developing and Using Technology as a Strategic Asset.” In Dancing with the Devil: Information Technology and the New Competition in Higher Education, Richard Katz and Associates, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, 1998.
- “Institutional or Random Acts of Progress?” Information Technology in Postsecondary Education, Vol. 1 No. 21 (Nov. 3, 1998), 6
- “The Internet in the Class or the Class on the Internet?” Community College Week, The Internet & Education, Fall 1998, 5
- “Learning as an Expedition, Technology as a Unifying Tool.” Syllabus, August 1998.
- “All Packets Should Not Be Created Equal: The Internet2 Project.” D-Lib Magazine, April, 1998.
- “Adapting to the Emergence of Educational Micro Markets.” Educom Review 32, no. 5 (September/October 1997): 26-30.
- “‘A Framework for Universal Intranet Access.” CAUSE/EFFECT 20, no. 2 (Summer 1997): 48-52.
- “‘Free Trade’ in Higher Education: The Meta University.” Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks 1, no. 1 (March 1997).
- “Why Higher Education Needs an Advanced Internet.” Computer 29, no. 11 (November 1996): 93-95.
- “A Strategy for I/T Investments.” In The Future Compatible Campus, edited by D. G. Oblinger and S. C. Rush. Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing Company, 1998, 26-35.
- “Infusing Information Technology into the Academic Process.” (With Robert G. Henshaw, John L. Oberlin, and Anne S. Parker.) In Planning and Management for a Changing Environment: A Handbook on Redesigning Postsecondary Institutions, ed. Peterson, M. W., Dill, D. D., and Mets, L. A., San Francisco, 1997: Jossey-Bass, 432-452.
- “Can Higher Ed Jump the Curve?” CAUSE/EFFECT 19, no. 3 (Fall 1996): 46-47.
- “Why We Need Internet II.” EDUCOM Review 31, no. 5 (September/October 1996): 28-31.
- “Higher Education and the NII – From Vision to Reality. Track B: Networked Applications.” In “Higher Education and the NII – From Vision to Reality” Monterey Conference Proceedings (Monterey, September 1995). Washington: EDUCOM, 1996.
- “A Higher Education Perspective on Network Applications.” In “Higher Education and the NII – From Vision to Reality” Monterey Conference Proceedings (Monterey, September 1995). Washington: EDUCOM, 1996.
- “Development of an Electronic Information Policy Framework” (with Carol G. Jenkins and Anne. S. Parker). CAUSE/EFFECT 18, no. 2 (Summer 1995): 15-23.
- “Dark Leadership.” On the Horizon 3, no. 4 (April/May 1995): 7-8.
- “A Question for the Future CEO: Campus of the Future or Future of the Campus?” EDUTECH Report10, no. 12 (March 1995): 1, 4-5.
- “The Textbook Approach to Winning a Student Technology Fee.” CAUSE/EFFECT 17, no. 4 (Winter 1994): 52-54.
- “Towards a Distributed Learning Infrastructure.” In The Canadian Multimedia Conference Proceedings (Calgary, 1994), edited by L. Katz, M. Mayo and B. Richardson, 157-9. Calgary: University of Calgary, 1994.
- “Toward a National Learning Infrastructure.” EDUCOM Review 29, no. 2 (March/April 1994): 32-37.
- “The Learning Society.” EDUCOM Review 29, no. 1 (January/February 1994): 8-9.
- “Educational Ecosystem of Information and Computation: Medium and Message.” EDUCOM Review 28, no. 5 (September/October 1993): 9-12.