Thoughts on Technology

This has been a very busy week, committee meeting wise. (I realize that I seem to be complaining about this a lot lately – sorry).  In particular, my meetings this week have focused on technology issues. For example, in one meeting yesterday we discussed the implementation of "clicker technology." Clicker technology refers to the use of audience response systems, such as the system distributed by TurningPoint Technology. Today my meeting was about Second Life and our growing collection of SL islands. So after all this focus on technology over the last 2 days, it was interesting to run across the article "Colleges Bought Classroom Technology, But Are Enough Professors Using It?" in The Chronicle’s Wired Campus Newsletter. The short article referred to an earlier commentary by Judith Tabron entitled "How to Find What Clicks in the Classroom." The commentary raises several good points, such as:

"The trouble is that it’s going to take a long time for academe to figure out what to do with all the technology it already has — and we need time and money to do that. Teaching is a complex activity, an odd combination of creativity and planning. And not only are the sciences, social sciences, humanities, and creative arts different from one another, but every course has its own personality."

The adoption of new technology is always very slow at a university since it requires training and resources if a university wants to commit to it in any significant way. Too often, universities administrators rely on faculty to pave the way in implementing new technologies. While it is good to see faculty lead the way, it unfortunately requires the faculty member to do this without any university support. While I understand that many public universities are facing budget crises (and mine is facing a fairly severe one that will result in decreased faculty lines and increased class size – always a disheartening situation), administrators need to find a way to support these new initiatives with money and other resources. I know that this isn’t happening because I see colleagues renting server space to practice with blogging services, content management systems, and other new technologies. Hopefully this change, it just doesn’t appear that it will change in the near future.


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