Optimists: Shannon Field, Keith Feiring, Stephanie Ellingson
Instructor, Janet Cook and Yin Roner
April 22, 2003
The Great Debate
“Investment in Training and Program – In light of today’s budget situation, institutions need to make the most of each dollar.”
Financial issues facing the institution require discretion in funding new technologies. “California universities and public schools face massive budget cuts.” “The state faces deficits of between $12 billion and $15 billion annually for at least the next five years” (Saito). There is limited money to finance new technology and no resources for training instructors.
Commercial course management systems (CMS) involve a considerable expense to the institution and pose significant concerns. Their ability to integrate with our institution’s student information system is unknown. When they offer link products initial and ongoing local programming will be required (AC4 4).
Many institutions express concerns that commercial CMS do not provide the flexibility (Young 1), scalability, security, and reliability (AC4 4) required for their faculty and students; a view shared by this committee. Multiple commercial CMS could address these issues; however, this is cost prohibitive. A better solution is to implement one system that provides more flexibility. The committee proposes waiting for the next generation of systems to become available. The “Open Knowledge Initiative”, an effort to develop a “more flexible way of building World Wide Web pages” for education and making the software “open source” may be a good alternative (Young 1).
Although we agree that professional development for teachers is a key issue in using technology to deliver quality, online education, it is our position that teachers, like any other professional group, should be required to upgrade and maintain their own skills, on their own time, and not at the school’s expense. “We need teachers who take responsibility for their own professional development on a daily basis; teachers who subscribe to professional magazines, journals, and online newsletters, seek out appropriate workshops and conferences, and participate in educational forums and online chats” (Starr).
Old training models are costly, and do not meet the needs of teachers (Serim). What we need are teacher-driven, professional development plans that include study groups, curriculum development/invention teams, technology coaches and mentors, informal support groups, and online training alternatives (McKenzie). Promoting adult learning concepts within our own ranks makes more sense and is more cost effective.
Numerous college instructors will be retiring in the next five years. These instructors represent faculty that require the most technology training. To avoid training expenses, recruit new instructors from a pool of qualified graduates and require technology skills. “Many institutions anticipate a tidal wave of openings in the next few years as the largest proportion of the professoriate, hired in the sixties to educate the baby boom, retires en masse…Nationally, many more PhDs continue to be produced than available jobs…Openings are up, but in many fields the typical job ad still draws over 100 applications” (Academic Job Market). We can hire part time instructors who possess technology skills and save money by avoiding full-time compensation packages (Pankin and Weiss).
In conclusion, the committee recommends that instructors develop their own online courses using current resources and development teams. The institution should revisit the Open Knowledge Initiative in one year.
AC4 Subcommittee Report.
Report of AC4 subcommittee on course management systems.
Academic Job Market.
UC Berkeley Career Web Site. UC Berkeley. 14 Sep. 2001.
Robert, and Weiss, Carla. “Part-Time Faculty in Higher Education: A
Selected Annotated Bibliography.” Providence College. 18 May 2000.