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The Technology Aside: Building a Strategic Plan to Strengthen Academic Programs (166187862)

The Technology Aside: Building a Strategic Plan to Strengthen Academic Programs (166187862)

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Published by EDUCAUSE
This article offers a conceptual framework for strategic planning for information technology that focuses on the outcomes of technology utilization--especially for improving individual and organizational performance--rather than the technologies themselves. http://www.educause.edu/library/resources/technology-aside-building-strategic-plan-strengthen-academic-programs
This article offers a conceptual framework for strategic planning for information technology that focuses on the outcomes of technology utilization--especially for improving individual and organizational performance--rather than the technologies themselves. http://www.educause.edu/library/resources/technology-aside-building-strategic-plan-strengthen-academic-programs

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Published by: EDUCAUSE on Sep 07, 2013
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The Technology Aside: Building a Strategic Plan to Strengthen Academic ProgramsCopyright 1994 CAUSE. From _CAUSE/EFFECT_ Volume 17, Number 1, Spring1994. Permission to copy or disseminate all or part of this material isgranted provided that the copies are not made or distributed forcommercial advantage, the CAUSE copyright and its date appear, andnotice is given that copying is by permission of CAUSE, the associationfor managing and using information resources in higher education. Todisseminate otherwise, or to republish, requires written permission. Forfurther information, contact Julia Rudy at CAUSE, 4840 Pearl EastCircle, Suite 302E, Boulder, CO 80301 USA; 303-939-0308;e-mail: jrudy@CAUSE.colorado.eduTHE TECHNOLOGY ASIDE: BUILDING A STRATEGIC PLANTO STRENGTHEN ACADEMIC PROGRAMSby Ellen D. WagnerABSTRACT: This article offers a conceptual framework for strategicplanning for information technology that focuses on theoutcomes of technology utilization--especially for improvingindividual and organizational performance--rather than thetechnologies themselves.The scope of technology-related activi-ties in today'sschools, colleges, and universities is enormous. Mostindividuals involved in technology integration efforts seeonly a part of the overall technology picture within theirtotal organization. In order for information technologies tobe used effectively in cost-beneficial ways, it is criticalfor technology users and managers to develop perspectivesthat encompass the issues and concerns of the totalorganization. Faculty need to have a clearer understandingof the environment in which their activities are takingplace, in order to better understand the processes andconstraints of technology planning and resource management.Technical personnel need to have a better picture of how theinformation technologies they manage and maintain are usedby the academic staff in their teaching and researchapplications; they need to understand the ways in whichadministrative staff use information for report preparationand long-range planning.The purpose of this article is, therefore:* To provide a framework for strategic planning fortechnology that emphasizes prioritizing academic technologyutilization. The tangible nature of network facilities anddesktop equipment make it somewhat easier to measureinstitutional penetration than to assess utilizationefficacy--that is, it is easier to talk about computer-to-student ratios or number of Internet log-ins than it is tomeasure the degree to which academic experiences have beenimproved through reconfiguring courses to use multimedia indirect instruction. Academic priorities should address thecollective concerns of the institution, while allowing forthe autonomy needed by each academic unit to undertaketechnology utilization planning that addresses their unique
 
needs.* To describe the current technology landscape onuniversity and college campuses, using the domains ofinfrastructure, information, and instruction/research toframe strategic planning activities.* To provide preliminary strategies and tactics that makemore efficient use of technology resources.This approach toward strategic planning is a conceptualframework that emphasizes technology utilization forimproving individual and organizational performance. Thisapproach considers the outcomes of technology utilizationmore than it looks at the technologies themselves. It isintended to encourage ongoing discussions withininstitutions, colleges, and departments of how best toestablish collective technology utilization priorities thatemphasize instruction and research perspectives. In thesedays of limited funding for higher education, it isimperative that academic units develop priorities forguiding and shaping infrastructure development, and theservices provided thereby, to meet instructional priorities.Distance education has been selected as an introductoryexemplar to illustrate the discussion that follows. Itprovides a context within which technologies are being usedfor direct instructional purposes. It also provides anopportunity to see the value of breaking away fromtechnology-oriented planning schemas toward one that isoriented toward improving personal and organizationalproductivity through effective technology use.Distance educationDuring the past decade, interactive electronic distanceeducation and training has become an increasingly viablemeans of distributing courses and programs to geographicallydispersed audiences. In spite of the relatively rapidproliferation of distance education programs and methods,many learning organizations continue to struggle tointegrate distance education within their central missionand daily operations.One of the reasons this struggle seems to occur is thatdistance education is rarely seen primarily as aninstructional strategy. Instead, it is seen as a technologyapplication, and tends to be categorized--even stereotyped--accordingly. Until fairly recently, distance educationprograms have been categorized within institutions by theirmost visible attribute, which has led to a wide array ofadministrative schemas. In some cases this has meantfeaturing the technologies being used for programdistribution. For example, by virtue of their dependenceupon interactive audio and video technologies for signaldistribution, some distance education programs areadministered by a campus's educational media services oreducational television unit. As computer network capacityand applications have proliferated, a strong case has beenmade by other institutions for running distance education
 
programs under the auspices of campus computing.In other cases, distance education programs have beenadministratively organized by virtue of the primary audiencefor whom the programs are intended. For example, since thetechnologies are frequently used to deliver courses anddegree programs to off-campus students, distance educationprograms are sometimes administered by continuing educationdivisions. Other institutions, recognizing the need tocentrally position distance education in particular, andtechnology utilization in general, within the academicmission of colleges and universities, have moved towardconsolidating teaching and learning initiatives usingtechnology under the direction of the office of academicaffairs.Figure 1: Technology Contexts[FIGURE NOT AVAILABLE IN ASCCII TEXT VERSION]From distance education to technology-based teachingDistance education is a subset of the broader field ofeducational telecommunications, which represents a widevariety of technology applications. Data services, telephoneservices, academic research and administrative computing,television, and radio are examples of educationaltelecommunications formats which may or may not involve thedelivery of interactive instructional programming[1]The current challenge is to harness the potential held byall of these resources and tools by creating a contextwithin which they can be used to improve teaching practiceand learning outcomes. Whether one is engaged in "distanceeducation," "telecommunications-based teaching," "computer-based education," "interactive video," or "instructionaltelevision," technology has had and will continue to havedramatic impact upon teaching practice. Technology mayultimately serve as a critical catalyst for enablingprofound educational restructuring and reform.[2] For thisto occur, however, institutions must begin the process ofstrategically planning for improving technology utilization.They must break away from models that feature thetechnologies themselves, and instead must focus upon theresults they hope to achieve through effective technologyuse.Domains of technologyTechnology emphases on university and college campusesgenerally focus upon three distinct domains. For the sake ofsubsequent discussion, they can be summarized in thefollowing ways:Infrastructure domainThis consists of the management and coordination of physicalmaterials needed for technological connectivity. It includesbut is not limited to physical plant facilities such astwisted copper wire, fiber optics, coaxial cable; switching

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