Why should we invest time and resources in the latest technology?
Steven W. Gilbert, President the TLT Group
Why should an academic leader risk making a technology investment decision that may make him/her look wasteful or foolish in 12 to 24 months? Why should a faculty member devote more time to learning about new applications of information technology and new ways of teaching? Why should a student learn how to use new instructional devices as part of earning a degree? Why should an academic support service professional try to keep up-to-date on new technology-dependent options for teaching and learning?
The short answer: Because more people will be able to learn and teach better. The following list of reasons provides better justification. The last items on this list may be the most important!
- Essential Applications. A growing number of courses include topics from fields in which applications of information technology have become essential for doing important work.
- New Learning Capabilities. Topics can now be taught and learned that were nearly impossible (or too dangerous) to teach without new applications of information technology.
- Meeting Varied Learning Needs, Preferences, Media. New information technology tools enable a teacher to provide learners with access to instructional materials that better match their individual learning needs or preferences.
- Difficult or Impossible Access. Telecommunications can provide access to instruction that would otherwise be unavailable due to learners' disabilities, inconvenient location, or schedule restrictions.
- Higher Expectations Based on Use of Productivity Tools. As more faculty and learners have access to productivity tools (e.g., word-processing, email, Web), teachers can provide more frequent feedback, and students can make more frequent revisions when completing assignments. Teachers' assignments can more reasonably demand higher quality results.
- Window to the Outside World. Faculty can bring into traditional classrooms otherwise inaccessible resources.
Information Literacy. Students (and faculty) need both more training and more experience in using information resources and tools.
Career Necessity. Employers expect employees to demonstrate comfort, confidence, and mastery of basic skills related to the use of computers and telecommunications options.
- Competition. Institutional ability to compete for students, faculty, and grants is dependent to some degree on the apparent level of educational use of information technology.
- Widening "Instructional Bottlenecks." An experienced teacher can recognize the improvement in student behavioral patterns when a new instructional approach or new educational application of information technology has removed or widened an "instructional bottleneck."
- Better Communication, More "Time on Task," Better Learning. When email provides a convenient, attractive means of communicating with other students in the course and with the instructor, many students are observed to spend more time communicating about the subject matter - and to learn more.
- Accumulating Professional Judgment. A growing mountain of informal statements from faculty members, students, and others describe their conviction - based on experience - that their own use of information technology improves the quality and effectiveness of learning.
Taken from a AAHESGIT listserv posting by Steven Gilbert, 10/3/00, and lightly reformatted for this page. For more information, see