Optimists: Shannon Field, Keith Feiring, Stephanie Ellingson

Instructor, Janet Cook and Yin Roner 

EDUI 6705-2

April 25, 2003 

The Great Debate – Final Arguments

“Investment in Training and Program – In light of today’s budget situation, institutions need to make the most of each dollar.”


 We are in a serious financial crisis. The following CSU Budget Statement states, “The 10% net reduction3 to the CSU's budget that the Governor proposed will seriously impact the University's programs in the areas of instruction, academic support, student services, administrative services, and facilities maintenance and repair” (CSU, 2003).

You have neglected to address important points:

  • Which faculty members do you recommend training and what is their training?
  • What is your plan for “the likely financial scenario over the next three to five years” (Bates, 1999. p. 49)?
  • “The primary cost of technology-based teaching will be in the support staff needed” (Bates, 1999, p. 49).  How much will this cost?

We agree that professional development is an integral piece in the technology puzzle.  However, to direct money and resources toward an untested training program is neither fiscally nor pedagogically sound without the benefit of a master technology plan, based on solid assessment of institutional, student, and faculty needs. 

                        While we agree that online professional development is an obvious and creditable alternative for time-starved faculty, we do not agree that this institution be responsible for the time and expense required to keep faculty trained to perform in their profession. Rather, we subscribe to a proactive learning model, with faculty “. . . taking responsibility for their own learning . . . .” (Ferdi, 1996).

“The expectations were that online courses would be a new revenue source and something that colleges had to look into,…Today, they are going back and asking some important and tough questions, such as: ‘Are we making any money off of it?’ ‘Can we even pay for it?’”  (Carr, 2001, p. 4).

Six new studies commissioned by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation reported “two broad conclusions:  The universities aren’t losing a lot of money on distance learning, but they aren’t making much either” (Carr, 2001, p. 2).  We need to go back and take a hard look at our online programs.  “In order to maximize the return on investment it is imperative that materials be developed and re-purposed into various markets” (Robinson, 2001, p. 1).  We need to look at transformative income generation, “development of the single product or offering and then repackaging that offering into different sizes and disseminated into various markets or remarketed to a completely different constituency”  (Robinson, 2001, p. 1-2).  We would like to see a proposal for how our current online offers can be fully utilized in this manner. 

We will continue to support the investments made in technology; however, we cannot allocate any additional resources to online programs until they demonstrate sufficient revenue to justify further expansion.  We will not support the purchase of a commercial course management system or upgrades needed to integrate with the student information system (AC4, 2001, p. 4).

We feel that you have neglected to show a plan for how your training proposal will be financially integrated within our faculty, a support staff and the required technology.


AC4 Subcommittee Report (2001).  Report of AC4 subcommittee on course management   systems.  March 2001.  Retrieved April 22, 2003, from:         http://ac4.ucdavis.edu/subcomm/cms_report.html.

Bates, A. W. (Tony) (1999).  Managing Technological Change.  San Francisco:  Jossey-Bass,       Inc.

California State University.  (2003).  CSU Budget Statement.  January 30, 2003.  Retrieved April        27, 2003, from: http://www.calstate.edu/budgetcentral/CSU_Bdgt_Stmnt.shtml.

Carr, S.  (2001).  Is Anyone Making Money on Distance Education?  The Chronicle of Higher           Education, February 16, 2001.  Retrieved April 27, 2003, from:     http://chronicle.com/free/v47/i23/23a04101.htm.

Robinson, E. T. (2001).  Maximizing the Return on Investment for Distance Education   Offerings.  Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 4(3).  Retrieved April       27, 2003, from: http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/fall43/robinson43.html.

Ferdi, S (1996).  Building Virtual Communities for Professional Development.  United States Department of Education.  Last modified May 1, 1996.  Retrieved April 27, 2003, from: http://www.ed.gov/Technology/Futures/serim.html.

McKenzie, J. (2001, January).  How Teachers Learn Technology Best.  From Now On The Educational Technology Journal, 10 (6).  Retrieved April 27, 2003, from: http://www.fno.org/mar01/howlearn.html.