Optimists: Shannon Field, Keith Feiring, Stephanie Ellingson
Instructor, Janet Cook and Yin Roner
April 25, 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.”
You state “It is to the institution’s benefit to invest in training, improved software and equipment, and limited class sizes. The investment will pay off long term.” We too are aware of such benefits and agree in principle with your statement. However, how much of an investment do you propose? You state, “A sound strategy, not funds, should drive technology decisions.” This is a naive statement. You should being saying, “A sound strategy plus adequate funding should drive technology decisions.” Without finances no institution can make the major purchases you mentioned: training, improved software and equipment. At this time, CA schools have no funding available. CSU Chancellor Charles Reed said, “The system faces losing $60 million from its annual $3 billion budget and may be forced to consider salary reductions, hiring freezes, layoffs and even more fee increases…This year is a problem, but next year could be a catastrophe” (Reed).
In addition, costs other than initial commercial course management system (CMS) integration must be considered. Gregory A. Jackson of the University of Chicago states, “The cost of running the courseware environment is not the software, it’s hardware and [support] people” (Young 2). Hardware upgrade and human resource costs including: “1) network management; 2) training and technical assistance; 3) course content development; 4) administrative support; and 5) student support services related to technology aided instruction” must be considered (Phipps and Wellman 11). New building space adds more expense (Tissue).
“Commercial systems are still undergoing rapid development” (AC4 4); therefore, the committee proposes waiting for better options in CMS’s. Commercial companies are watching the developments of the Open Knowledge Initiative and “say they are already working to make their own products more open and flexible” (Young 2). When better software options are available, the committee can investigate hardware, space and human resources issues.
And finally, in response to your assertion
that “Providing faculty training guarantees a strong Return on Investment
. . . .” we agree, again, in principle, but must return to the realities
of current fiscal constraints. Past experience has shown that “There is
considerable risk that districts will now rush to fill the professional
development void with hundreds of hours of teacher training — hours that
are unlikely to convert reluctant, late adopting, skeptical teachers into
true believers and frequent users” (
AC4 Subcommittee Report. Report of AC4 subcommittee
on course management systems. Mar. 2001.
Phipps, Ronald A., and Jane V. Wellman. “Funding the ‘Infostructure’, A Guide to Financing Technology Infrastructure in Higher Education.” The Institute for Higher Education Policy 3.2 (Apr. 2001). Retrieved 24 Apr. 2003. <http://www.ihep.com/Pubs/PDF/FTI.pdf>.
Tissue, Brian M. “The Costs of Incorporating Information Technology in Education.” Summer On-line Conference on Chemical Education, 1 Jun. – 1 Aug. 1997. Retrieved 24 Apr. 2003. <http://www.chem.vt.edu/archive/chemconf97/paper04.html>.
Young, Jeffrey R. “Universities Begin Creating a Free,
‘Open Source’ Course- Management System.” The Chronicle of Higher
Education 17 Apr. 2001.