|Date: Sun, 26 Jan 1997 10:57:05 -0500
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Dickie Selfe)
To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Cc: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: long-large U. challenges of TWT
sets of statements about challenges were collected at the
Jan. Epiphany institute in Washington DC and I think are
very important. I've added some comments from time to
time, but there's much more potential here than that.
What I hope happens is that some of youse/y'all/you folks
will elaborate on individual comments with further
explications of the problems we face AND with possible
We might also try to pull common concerns and
solutions out of these comments and create summaries for
future TWT travelers.
We could also tie these comments to the social
theories we find useful. The practices we see here will
challenge those theories at the same time the theories
offer us new ways to think about the problems.
I'm also assuming that the Epiphany crowd is
picking these posts up and shaping them for their web
pages. That means that these confessionals will become
public. For that reason, and because I understand
personally how statements of challenges can "get
back", in unexpected and uncomfortable ways, to
colleagues and administrators at an institution if you
put your name to them, that I have left out all names and
institutional affiliations. If you don't recognize your
contribution, feel free to write me at <email@example.com>
to get a copy. Anyway here we go again.
Tomorrow I will try to send out the challenges
mentioned by small colleges.
CHALLENGES TO CREATING A CULTURE OF SUPPORT FOR
TEACHING WITH TECHNOLOGY IN
LARGE UNIVERSITIES: OFTEN Ph.D. GRANTING AND URBAN
- * 24,000 students, 1/2 undergraduates, very
diverse: a dozen computer labs run centrally and
15 in departments, 8 high-end lecture rooms.
- - so many classes in labs, students don't
have easy access for out-of-class work
- making it easy, it's coming but ...
- email and discussion list need to be easier [to
set up? to use?]
- web page & hypertext authoring more
- widely accessible hardware
- more support staff (some student, more
- time for professional devel. with tools and
- prepare for future
- multimedia, especially sound and graphic
annotated texts (MM term papers)
- wireless and portable communication devises
- proper mix and integration of face-to-face,
self study, collaboration, and use of distance
learning technologies in our courses.
- * Large Urban U., colleges and schools are
- - Each unit operates separately on most
issues => frustrating, esp. when selecting
hardware and software: little consistency
1) time to learn, get exposed to, new technology.
I'm eager to see what my options are but feel
"out of touch". Coming to this
institute introduced me to new software programs.
Now I need time to learn how to implement the new
2) Finding someone to support financially what I
want. Luckily, our dean has supplied us with
state-of-the-art equip, but software selections
are vertically dictated. The $ needs to be
justified by a larger group than 1 dept.
- [Comment by Dickie: In this one set of
challenges we are made aware of both the
attractiveness of departmental autonomy (and thus
distributed computing models) AND the
frustrations of a totally distributed computing
- * State institution, Ph.D. granting, 19,000
students, strong Lit., Linguistics, Rhet/Comp
- - Lack of participation of contract faculty
and tenure [and TT?] faculty in training,
incorporation, or interest in how technology can
enhance their teaching.
- understanding on administrators' parts of why
the *right kind* of hard/software is so important
to TWT. For example, upper admin. would prefer
equipping one university lab with updated
computers than to *update* a number of labs with
memory upgrades, software, or other less
drastic/less obvious equipment that is genuinely
needed in that lab.
- Quite honestly, [one challenge is to establish]
harmony between our very small computers and
writing community in establishing goals, action
plans, and workshops hoping to get our programs
- * Urban community campus, Ph.D. granting,
26,000 grad. and undergrads; 80% of students work
over 20 hrs per week; mix of traditional and
nontraditional students: returning, adult
working, and 1st generation students.
- [comment by Dickie: we might now want to
reverse definitions for nontrad. and traditional
students. That change could mean substantial
change in the direction of computing and
investment in infrastructures.]
- Challenges include:
- my own time to learn new technology, developing
curricula, lobbying for software purchases, &
training comps. teachers to teach with technology
- limited lab facilities for teaching in
- differential in student access to computing
& the potential of discrimination against
less privileged students if we infuse techn.
throughout the composition curriculum.
- * Midwest State Institution, 20,000 students,
Ph.D. granting, primarily focused on teaching.
Great interest voiced by administration in techn.
- - Too often the above voiced interest =
support for hardware, some software; support for
university-wide secretarial staff; support for
faculty development nonexistent
- Administrative support for initial &
on-going training thru release time, $,
recognizing a) it's important, and b) the initial
efforts might produce some measure of chaos,
discomfort & then less-than-glowing student
- Some faculty very comfortable with TWT; most
willing to learn, but don't know enough to start;
a few absolutely resistant.
- [comment by Dickie: we might want to stay
away from the word "training" since we
are hoping to do more than just train. We want
commitments to explore, collaborate, and even
rearrange content and the delivery of material,
.... I suppose that could be called training, but
it's not what most folks (administrators) think
about when they hear that word.]
- * West coast state technical university,
15,000 students, 1/2 male/female; many masters
degrees; flagship institution with very good
students: primarily white, middle-class, moneyed.
- [comment by Dickie: we can spend too much
time look at sites of institutional resistance
and not enough time analyzing our personal
dilemmas. This is a great set of introspections.]
- 1) overcoming my own fears of not being able
to figure out the techn.
2) since I'd rather read (novels, poetry
non-fiction), I'm afraid my interest for learning
this new technology won't hold.
3) what if I get sucked in and give up reading
4) how will I keep up in this field when I have
so little time as it is?
5) institutional support is not a problem; more
important is personal commitment.
6) do I really want to change the way I do
- Institutional challenges:
- few courses in Eng. (or humanities) taught with
- humanities very traditional--feel besieged by
- little incentive for change in humanities
- campus has heavy teaching loads on quarter
system: 12 units per quarter
- * large state U., largely commuter
- - getting departments from top down to
recognize value of and rewards for using techn.
Getting chairs and top admin. to be proactive
- Helping faculty overcome fear of breaking out
of traditional methods of teaching and getting
them to enhance traditional teaching.
- overcoming faculty fear of failure [fear of
- getting departments to allow faculty to
experiment and sometimes stumble w/out fear of
losing chance to get tenure.
- overworked faculty finding time to learn and
use new techn.
- * 20,000 Midwestern U., urban, working class,
undergrad/grad. w/ Ph.D. in Rhet/Comp.
- 1) Getting faculty to be invested,
knowledgeable, excited, committed to integrating
tech. into their teaching & research. Clearly
a difficulty & long-time goal. One key
problem: the most powerful & influential
faculty on campus are often the older ones and
are also most resistant to change, particularly
2) creating a [an institutional?] structure which
promotes cooperation and communication among
technical people, faculty, administrators, and
3) As a research Univ. with a strong teaching
mission, we have to find ways to implement
technology to satisfy multiple and conflicting
4) Cost. trying to figure out the most economical
way to purchase soft/hardware.
5) staying ahead of the curve, myself.
- * University in a bedroom community of a
major metropolitan area, limited ethnic
diversity, but wide range of cultures
represented, laptop program, majority of students
are non-traditional, older with full-time jobs.
- - Universities and colleges, by and large,
seem to operate as places that are separate from
the communities that surround them. U. faculty
are often well behind the community and local
businesses in use of techn. How do we make
connections with folks outside our little niche?
- How do we broaden our conversation & the
people we feel the need to talk with? Seems to me
that our limited vision of who we seek out to
talk to is a micro version of the "trying to
do it all yourself" syndrome & is
related to our ability [or inability] to realize
a holistic culture of support.
- [comment by Dickie: Excellent questions and
comments! From my perspective, isolationist
tendencies are one of the great failings of
post-secondary institutions and also one of the
most dangerous for our longevity!]
- * 28,000 students in urban commuter campus,
average age 28, many part-time & returning
students, majors of all kinds and many grad.
- - TRAINING: Many of our TR courses are taught
by part-time faculty, some with other full-time
jobs. Thus the problems become funding a time for
the training, offering enough options to fit many
schedules, and determining their needs. While we
have technical support, it is not very
support. I want to find a way to support our
creative teachers as they begin to explore the
web and conferencing. One other problems with
training is finding time for one of us to do the
training in the midst of all our other
- * Same U. as above
- - finding ways to reward and compensate P/T
faculty for attending developmental workshops.
Our faculty are great, but when we can pay them
so little there's a limit to what we can require
or to what they'll find inviting.
- we have little access to labs for most of the
year [for teacher workshops] since they are
booked with classes.
- the labs have bolted tables in rows and much of
the hardware is unreliable enough and some of our
student consultants are unprofessional enough
that teaching in the labs is getting a bad
reputation among teachers. I hear more complaints
about equipment failure than I hear excitement
about teaching there.
- [comment by Dickie: I agree that maintaining
hardware and professional attitudes, and a
reputation for support are essential, BUT aren't
we, even when we succeed in our efforts to
provide TWT sites, going to hear complaints more
often than success stories? I often find myself
hanging out in the lab during class sessions or
when people are working on their own projects to
make myself experience the visceral, positive
teaching/learning practices that make it all
worth while, and which I will NEVER hear about
otherwise. What I need to start doing is sharing
those observations with consultants and teachers
so that they too will hear something other than
complaints and break-down information.]