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From _CAUSE/EFFECT_ Volume 17, Number 1, Spring 1994. Permission to copy or disseminate all or part of this material is granted provided that the copies are not made or distributed for commercial advantage, the CAUSE copyright and its date appear, and notice is given that copying is by permission of CAUSE, the association for managing and using information resources in higher education. To disseminate otherwise, or to republish, requires written permission. For further information, contact Julia Rudy at CAUSE, 4840 Pearl East Circle, Suite 302E, Boulder, CO 80301 USA; 303-939-0308; e-mail: jrudy@CAUSE.colorado.edu CURRENT ISSUES IN HIGHER EDUCATION INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY The CAUSE Current Issues Committee has responsibility for identifying current or developing issues and trends of importance to the future of information technology (IT) in higher education. From this process come articles in CAUSE/EFFECT magazine, conference sessions and themes, CAUSE professional papers, and association initiatives. Here is a summary of the major issues identified by the committee at their meeting last December at CAUSE93 in San Diego. People Issues The attention of information technology professionals has typically been focused on the technology itself, and many high-level administrators still believe that the only costs for technology are for the hardware and software. IT professionals need to help institutional decision-makers understand that without adequate IT support personnel and user training, the best technology will not lead to institutional effectiveness. To fully reap the benefits of information technology, we must turn our attention to people. Our institutions need new strategies for human resources: more adequate personnel development plans are required; career paths need to be strengthened; staffing needs must be addressed from an institutional perspective with institutional goals in mind; organizational structures and processes must be revisited; and the campus community must be educated and trained for our IT investment to be truly leveraged. The Changing Communications Paradigm/NII The Clinton Administration continues to press a national agenda for reforming telecommunications policy in the U.S. While Federal regulations, legislation, standards adoption, and funding are vital in shaping this agenda, many of the key activities must take place within states at the community level, for this is where the "rubber hits the (digital) road." Higher education institutions, as members of local communities, providers of significant information services, major "buyers" of telecommunications services, and "pioneers" in the electronic frontier of "open systems," have much to contribute to this national agenda that must be
played out state by state. What should higher education's role be in the emerging National Information Infrastructure (NII)? Should we help develop new applications that can stimulate an information economy? Should we encourage network providers in our communities to create "public access on and off ramps" by sponsoring community networks such as the FreeNet for schools, libraries, hospitals, and other public service organizations? Should we offer access to our campus information and information resources over the NII? IT and Institutional Effectiveness During the past decade the general concept of "accountability" has been extended to higher education in the form of the institutional effectiveness movement. Colleges and universities no longer can expect to receive the resources required to maintain their functions from their governing boards, patrons, and state legislatures without first presenting detailed explanations and analyses of how well they are accomplishing their missions. Higher education administrators have developed, or attempted to develop, sets of measurement tools and techniques to quantify the successes of multiple elements of their institutional missions. In times of shrinking resources these same officials are casting a critical eye at the information technology function--a traditional "black hole of resource consumption"--demanding specific, quantifiable measures of productivity and accomplishment. It is incumbent upon IT executives and managers not simply to defend (protect) their resources, but to demonstrate proactively that information technology is one of the key infrastructure elements that support and further institutions' objectives, goals, and missions. Transforming/Reengineering Higher Education Michael Hammer has defined reengineering as the fundamental rethinking and radical redesign of an entire "business system"--the processes, jobs, organization structure, management systems, and values and beliefs--to achieve dramatic improvements in critical measures of performance. Many higher education leaders believe that this concept is applicable on college and university campuses. With the convergence of voice, video (image), and data technology, the opportunity to transform all processes within higher education is on the horizon. Information technology may be the only avenue available to fundamentally alter higher education's cost structure. IT professionals can provide the infrastructure and support systems to assist their institutions in meeting this challenge. Are there other roles for them to play as well? Information, Not Computing Computing and telecommunications technologies have merged to the point that they are becoming indistinguishable. One consequence of the integration of such digital technologies is the shift from "computing" to "information" services. Information technology provides the ability to search out,
analyze, and present appropriate distributed data in meaningful and understandable ways, or as R. W. Hamming put it, "to provide insight, not numbers"--to transform data to information, information to knowledge, and knowledge to wisdom. To accomplish this, campus information technology professionals have an opportunity to refocus their attention to developing tools and information systems that will enable individuals and groups to acquire, catalog, search, translate, and retrieve data, text, images, and a variety of other information resources. Obviously this will involve collaboration with library and other information specialists. What are the implications for IT planning, organization, and training to deliver tomorrow's information products and services to the campus community? IT in Support of the Academy Higher education faces challenges as never before, including an increasing lack of public trust--a skepticism about the effectiveness of our industry in terms of both cost and outcomes. While as educators we prefer not to think in terms of "productivity" measures, our institutions must fundamentally change to meet the challenges that face us. How can IT support the educational enterprise as it responds to these challenges? Through meaningful partnerships, IT professionals can support faculty in using IT tools to enhance the educational experience and enhance academic "productivity." These partnerships will require definition of the appropriate roles of faculty and IT professionals as they relate to the educational process and the application of technology. Should the faculty have sole ownership of this issue with IT playing a supporting role? Or can IT professionals work with faculty and administrators to help them understand how to take advantage of the potential and power of technology in the teaching and learning environment? IT and Library Collaboration Information technologists and librarians increasingly share common goals with respect to access to and delivery of information on campus. Yet when these professionals compare themselves to each other, they often emphasize their differences in terms of personnel status within their institutions, compensation, roles, career paths, available resources, perceptions by the campus community, and relative importance of their function to their institutions. What is obvious is that the roles of the two professions now overlap significantly as higher education migrates ever more steadily toward a networked information environment. This provides an opportunity for collaboration, whether it be through line organizational changes, joint planning and vision committees for information resources and technology, or cross-functional teams addressing specific projects one at a time. Opportunities for collaboration exist in many areas, including providing help desk services, information retrieval interface design, development of campus-wide information systems, user training, Internet use, and faculty and student support. How can we encourage such collaborative efforts? What must we do to ensure their
success? If you have ideas to contribute to the development of these topics, or related campus experiences to share, please get in touch with any committee member or with CAUSE/EFFECT editor Julia Rudy. If you would like to direct a message to the entire committee, send e-mail to email@example.com. ************************************************************************ 1994 CAUSE Current Issues Committee Chair: Con Dietz Executive Director Computing & Information Systems Illinois State University firstname.lastname@example.org Charles R. Blunt Associate Vice Chancellor, IT SUNY Central Administration email@example.com Kenneth C. Blythe Director, Office of Administrative Systems Pennsylvania State University firstname.lastname@example.org Mickey Brandstadter Director Information Resource Management Midlands Technical College email@example.com Ralph H. Caruso Chief Information Officer University of Missouri System firstname.lastname@example.org Ellen F. Falduto Chief Information & Planning Officer Hartwick College email@example.com Clair W. Goldsmith Director, Strategy & Planning for MIS University of Texas System Office firstname.lastname@example.org Stephen J. King Associate Director Information Services Division Harvard University email@example.com Betty LeCompagnon Executive Director Computing and Information Services University of New Hampshire
firstname.lastname@example.org William E. Lewis Vice Provost for IT Arizona State University email@example.com William O. Sherman Associate VP for Academic Affairs Central Connecticut State University firstname.lastname@example.org Anne Woodsworth Dean, Palmer School Long Island University/CW Post Campus email@example.com ************************************************************************ 03/29/94 (meh) Current Issues in Higher Education Information Technology
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