Illinois Interinstitutional Faculty Summer Institute on Learning Technologies

Western Illinois University

Campus Teams: Local Plans and Solutions

€ Infrastructure and Support Issues
€ Incentives and Reward Structures
€ Training and Development


Charles felt that the workshop made him clearer on the weaknesses in the area of the use of technology in education. He feels that even the College of Education has some gaps, and that the equipment is not that bad, but we need more labs. He notes that the problems lie with how we use technology in conjunction with what we want to do--faculty need to think more clearly on this. He was struck by the interactivity that was shown in Graves' learning model (Univ. of NC Chapel Hill) on the web, and believes that at WIU the web is still used passively. He thinks faculty should use the web to empower students rather than "tell them".

Charles suggested 3 things for us to do:

  1. Over the summer--meet with the leadership (Burt, Don, etc.) at WIU for technological initiative and stress interactivity
  2. Long term--institutional structure change--we need a university-wide technology committee (like what Murphy ran)
  3. Personal--fool around with software, come up with an "agreed-upon" interface (Mallard, CyberProf, First Class, etc.)
Bruce mentioned that schools should get out of the "hardware" business. He'd like to see every class wired to the network and laptops given to every student. However, Georg pointed out the number of off-campus students and questioned whether or not distribution of laptops would apply just to on-campus students. We need to also consider our Quad Cities campus and our nontraditional students when providing access to technology.

Joseph asked about the role of Academic Computing in helping to provide faculty development. Ruth was concerned about the ease of use of technology--she feels that most faculty want the technology they use to be as easy as turning on a light switch.

Georg mentioned the Center for the Application of Information Technologies (CAIT) here on campus and their initiative to develop training modules for software so that faculty could engage in technology training outside of the 8-5 realm. This could be done through the use of videotapes and CD-ROMS. This brought up the question of "canned" workshops and the issue of whether these would be good to free up time on the particulars. Andrew objected to having canned workshops and Laura agreed. She wants the convenience of being able to make a phone call when having problems where someone would be available to answer questions and help her.

Georg pointed out a need for more support staff. He suggested that training on Saturdays and Sundays could be a possibility, but recognized that faculty are usually unable to meet at nights and on weekends.

The issues of financing technology and support was brought up. Where would we get the money to hire more people? Joseph pointed out that institutional long-term planning may preclude short term budgetary allocations for such staffing and hardware. Some consideration ought to be afforded to reassigning graduate assistanships and student workers to positions that take on more of a staff development/support personnel role.

Bruce mentioned John Murphy's faculty development initiative and how he would offer day-long workshops. He suggested the possibility of putting together a program that would last several days. Ruth noted that it was important to have follow-ups with small groups after such a workshop or breakout sessions for those at different levels.

In terms of what this group as a whole has learned, the group agreed that we need to stay in touch with each other. Bruce suggested that we share information among our respective colleges via ccmail, and offered to set up a mailing list. Charles added that we might want to create a web page. Terry would like to meet every now and then and iron out any issues. Laura mentioned the use of conferencing software (ICQ, NetMeeting, First Class, Eudora) as well, noting that we need to use it to become familiarized with it.

One issue that we need to think about is the amount of server space that is required for the technology we want to use. Georg pointed out that if we design courses to be interactive, then we need to talk about dial-in capabilities. In this instance, academic computing would definitely need to be involved. The participants read on institutional policy is that academic computing is at or near its anticipated capacity for dial-in capability. We do, however, have a legitimate need to further strengthen connections with the Quad Cities classes.

Next, faculty incentives and reward structures were discussed. Georg brought up the issue of release time for faculty who work with technology. He noted several incentives that already existed such as the PAA (Professional Advancement Award), and mentioned that teacher evaluations go toward half of that. What kind of incentives are used toward tenure? Would the use of technology count toward this? Bruce thought that there should be a technology clause in the criteria for tenure. Dan mentioned chair documentation in faculty support, and Bruce talked about the Alliance for Computers and Writing and how they are currently working on standards like this. Georg noted the College of Education and Human Services' award for Innovations in Technology. Charles backed this up, citing that if someone develops an interactive report, it shows more creativity and effort than simply writing a journal article.

Wrapping it up, we discussed steps that we needed to take. Terry wanted to send a report to the dean, and copy the president on it. Page and Andrew plan to make the report as an online presentation. Dan would like to publish a 3-year report outline what we can/should do. Andrew said to make sure to note "Engaged Learning" (collaboration among students, low-cost components) in the report. Georg talked about an Outcomes Assessment model where student products might be published on the web. With this, he noted two components: 1) faculty, and 2) the impact of having students create products. Andrew suggested that we introduce semi synchronous elements into our classes as well. Charles said that with technology, he is more concerned about faculty using it than students--it really needs to be user-friendly. Andrew noted that there is still a need for instructional support personnel, regardless of how many workshops are offered. Charles concluded by stressing how we need to get involved immediately, and suggested that the faculty who attended this summer institute convert one of their existing course using the introduced technologies.