The Epiphany Project
Survey Results: Challenges Creating a Culture of Support 1/5
Date: Wed, 15 Jan 1997 09:44:57 -0500
From: (Dickie Selfe)

At the recent Epiphany Institute in Wash. D.C. I asked participants (about 60 or so) to think about the most important challenges they faced as they tried to begin or to continue programs that encourage teaching with technology. It is certainly an activity that I would recommend, but it is simply the beginning of a longer conversation that I hope will continue either on Epiphany-L or Chortt-l. Together we have to try to move beyond our understanding of challenges and develop useful, site-specific challenges.

Here's my plan. I will post (as I type them in) the somewhat edited comments of the participants. I think they are useful for at least three reasons:

  1. they show the patterns of challenges that seem to run across post-secondary institutions (and probably k-12);
  2. they may alert us to problems we don't now recognize at our own institutions; but more importantly
  3. they give us a starting point for sharing strategies for approaching local solutions.

If you have the time, skim the set of statements and post comments to any one or any group of common issues that strike you as important. Here goes:

************* Challenges 1 *************

* Midsize Midwestern State Engineering U., resident campus, predominantly white male, research institution.
We need to remove barriers between teachers across curriculum who want to collaborate on technology/teaching ventures. The lab fees for each major go to individual departments, and while this works well to support individual labs, every time some interdisciplinary project comes up, students end up paying multiple fees. Teachers are probably avoiding extensive, technology-rich collaboration across campus for this reason.
* English Department of 600 students, public research institution of 25,000.
Since I work in a department of electrical and computer engineering the challenge I face concerns the use of technology to teach, instead of, or as a substitute for human (face to face) communication. Over-reliance on web page instruction reminds me of our nation's habit of using electronic baby-sitters, TV, to teach our young children. Our challenge is to find ways to humanize high tech. instruction. Our writing center reflects this concern and was created to address it. A second, but related challenge, is to find ways to integrate writing and speaking into the technical curriculum.
* Southern State University, 25,000 students, writing center with 3,500 contact per year.
1. My own inadequacies and lack of expertise and knowledge: a) lack of knowledge about hard/software b) lack of knowledge about what is available in labs and classrooms.
2. Most pressing is that 4 computers are coming into the writing center for our consultants to use. I want to make sure they are used efficiently and appropriately for enhancing the writing skills of students.
* Small liberal arts school, primarily residential, 2200 students (1600 undergraduates)
I see one of our greatest challenges as being the lack of preparation time & technology training necessary. The kind and amount of tech. support are inadequate, leaving faculty with the feeling that they are regarded as nuisances by the tech. folks. We seem to be exceptional in that our administration is "sold" on technology.
* Jesuit University w. 4,200 under/grad. students, large English major, MA program, comp. taught by GTAs, 3-year old computer classroom
- having enough sophisticated equipment & software
- enough time to work on a project.
- enough knowledge about particular software
Once an instructional project has been conceptualized, the challenges are:
- having the technology-rich (TR) environment to work in
- having the computers & technology work during class & out-of-class experiences
- having students get beyond the soft/hardware learning and get on with the
- " the facilities for students to work on assignments outside of class
* Another Participant from the same Jesuit Universty
1. overcoming a bad physical classroom design in computer classroom that has made f2f human interaction nearly impossible in the room. people dislike being there.
2. inadequate time and resources for writing staff training
3. technical support is too far distant in time and space
4. MOST SIGNIFICANT: insufficient pedagogical theory in connecting computers & composition. We've seen this as software problems, but it's a theory problem.
* Protestant Christian University
1st: shifting my pedagogy: I have learned to teach and have taught many years under the traditional or teacher-centered model, so moving to a TWT , student-centered environment is a challenge. I need to know how to do this on a daily basis and see good modeling of these techniques.
2nd: finding time to learn the new technologies well enough to teach with them is a challenge. We do not get release time or load reduction to learn these systems along with 4 classes and serving on various committees.
3rd: our technology support personnel give us instruction but leave us on our own too soon. We need more hand holding.
* Lib Arts College, ~900 students, primarily residential, strong prof. programs. Challenges include:
- evidence of concrete pedagogical strategies and activities for myself, my dept. and other disciplines. (The institution supports the general idea....)
- time: where do I find these resources & my own expertise/confidence?
- constant change/advances in technology: who is responsible for riding the wave while many of us are sucked into the undertow
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