Sunday, November 25, 2007

CIT 2007 - Strategies For Working With Technology Resistant Faculty

This session was presented by John O'Brien, PhD AVP and CAO of Century College and Ron Anderson PhD CFO and VP Administration/Technology, also of Century College.

Century College is a 9,000 learner comprehensive community college located in White Bear Lake MN. the college has had a lot of change in recent years with 50% new faculty in the last five years and 50% growth in the 2000-2005 time frame. They have spent a lot of money on emerging technologies and have the challenge of ensuring that faculty and learners can use these technologies and are in fact comfortable with them. What about faculty who are hindered, skeptical, disgruntled, or left behind in the rush to new technologies?

The college conducted a survey of faculty to determine their comfort levels with technology. here are their assumptions before the study:
  • Enthusiastic - 20%
  • Interested/Hindered - 45%
  • Skeptical - 25%
  • Opposed- 10%
And here are the actual survey results:
  • Enthusiastic - 54%
  • Interested/Hindered - 34%
  • Skeptical - 11%
  • Opposed - 1%
It was apparent that from the survey results that faculty wanted to use technology in their courses and also that there needed t be supports in place to allow the enthusiastic and interested to flourish and to provide support to teh skeptical and opposed (who might always be opposed but who should not be excluded).

There are some best practice implications here:
  • Balanced offerings are ideal
  • Don't define technology too narrowly (for some it is PowerPoint) as online only
  • Recognize alternative technologies
  • Don't assume that technology is unquestionably good (this point really strikes home with me - even as an avowed geek, for me technology should always just be a tool, and the best technology is transparent to both learners and faculty)
In order to support faculty in using technology there has to be an openness to dissent. Some of the tools used at Century College include:
  • Teaching circles
  • Recognizing and celebrating non-technology innovations
  • Clarifying minimum "techspectations"
  • Acknowledge academic freedom
Effects of Technology on Teaching:

Best practice implications:
  • Positive experiences better than negative
  • Learning more important than enrollments
  • training focus - productivity and learning

A lack of technical knowledge and time to learn

Here is how we traditionally offer help to faculty when using new technologies:

There needs to be new support design elements:
  • Entry level training
  • Ongoing support and crisis support
  • Decide when to offer it
  • Lack of visible institutional priorities
  • Perceived differences in perspective between faculty and administration
Motivating Incentives:
  • Main one was meerting learner expectations
  • Questions assumptions
  • Know the disconnects
  • Change the culture - serve left behind faculty
As a new college administrator (I am an academic chair responsible to three schools, a campus and with almost 30 full and part-time fculty that report to me) I found this presentation very useful. As a geek I found it even more useful - it began a seed in my mind that by the end of CIT 2007 had firmly plated itself - not everyone embraces and uses technology like I do (you tend to forget that at times) and there have to be mechanisms in place to ensure that everyone gets access and support when dealing with technology so they do not become overwhelmed and ultimately discouraged and disillusioned about technology in education

My own college is wrestling with several issues surrounding the use of technology in learning and this presentation will provide me with the balance I need as I work with others to ensure that we get the fit of technology and learning right...


Bobbi said...

Great information Ian. I relish the concept of being open to dissent. I've been reading up on the 'edge of chaos' theory lately and how 'tension' keeps us moving forward. All very interesting.

Ian H. MacLeod said...

Cool stuff Bobbi - thanks for the post and comments.