2 February, 1998

Minutes of the Technology Initiative Committee


Present: Gayle Mindes, Tom Miller, John Culbert, Charles Strain, David Levin, Glenn Lancaster, Henry Harr, Tom Donley, LoriLee Sadler


  1. Introductory remarks.
    1. David Levin, Director of Distance Learning, will be joining the committee indefinitely to help identify and deal with distance learning issues
    2. Technology Initiative Inventory. Please complete the technology inventory form linked from the Techinit web page (http://condor.depaul.edu/~lsadler/techinit/) with school-led and/or departmental-led initiatives to incorporate technology into the curriculum. Please contact LoriLee if you have any questions about or problems with the form.


  2. Discussion of 22.01.98 minutes.
    1. Ways Technology Can be Used for Academic Purposes. John Culbert articulated at least four ways that technology can be used to enhance the academic mission:
      1. As an organizational tool, for things like syllabi, announcements, grades, etc.
      2. As part of the work of the course (e.g., research/data gathering/analysis)
      3. As the focus of the course (e.g., a course in theatre lighting, which is largely technological in nature)
      4. As a vehicle for supporting student-to-student and student-to-teacher interaction
    2. Setting University-wide standards for what technology to use when
      1. Gayle Mindes pointed out that setting University-wide standards would not work because each school had different needs/mandates with regard to technology.
      2. A suggestion was made to begin discussions in schools about what is appropriate at the school level.
      3. Tom Donley agreed that school-defined standards were important, but also wants to see some kind of articulation of quality standards for the institution. (See #x below about best practices and quality control).


  3. Pedagogy vs. Competition
    1. All agreed that there are two perspectives from which our goals/initiatives must be examined.
    2. The pedagogy perspective is the perspective that represents how effectively we teach with or without the support of technology, and what kinds of measurable enhancements technology adds to our students' learning experiences.
    3. The competition perspective is the perspective that represents how effectively technology helps the institution and individual schools compete with external forces such as programs at other universities and internal forces such as efficient use of faculty and student time (e.g., no standing in lines to obtain information or University services).
    4. All agreed that the pedagogy question was the more difficult to deal with.


  4. What is Being Done/What Works?
    1. Tom Miller, representing the new faculty perspective (which, as it turns out, is not much different from the veteran faculty perspective) asked where he could find out what is available at DePaul in terms of technology to support his classes and what was working and not working for other faculty.
    2. Tom Donley also raised the issue of "what is being decided?" The group as a whole agreed that a better picture of what strategic, direction-oriented decisions had been made was necessary both for this group and for individual schools and faculty to make informed decisions. Specifically, what decisions have been made regarding resource allocation (funding for distance learning, for example) and faculty development (e.g., the faculty institute).
    3. To this end, we made the following decisions (aka, homework):
      1. College representatives should meet with Deans/Associate Deans to determine if strategic plans have been articulated (in writing) for the College, and to get permission to distribute those plans to the group. Please have the reports or an approved summary of the report ready to distribute prior to the next meeting. Mail Sadler the url or the document for posting to the techinit web site. Sadler and Levin will obtain plans for IS and Distance Learning/Lifelong Learning, respectively.
      2. We need a cataloged, systematically-updated inventory of activities at the individual faculty level, department and College level, and institution-wide level that support enhancing teaching and learning, with or without technology. Each item (record) in the inventory should include information on who is sponsoring the activity, who is participating in the activity, how the activity fits within the framework of some strategic plan (departmental/college/university), what the costs of the activity are (time, money, people, equipment/software, travel, etc.), and what the measures of success are for the activity.
        1. Sadler offered to generate a draft "interview" form that the committee will work on via e-mail or HyperNews; the goal being that within a week (09.02.98) we have a common interview form that each College rep can use to interview Deans/Associate Deans and other appropriate people.
        2. College reps on the committee will interview appropriate people, using the interview form as a guide, as early as possible (hopefully before the next Techinit meeting).
        3. Techinit committee needs to make a recommendation as part of our action plan about how the "systematic updating" of this inventory is to take place and to ensure that appropriate resource allocations are made.


  5. Appropriate Measures of Effectiveness
    1. Sadler made the point that while it is good to know what is going on, it is more important to know what the net result of the activity is. For example, we can track how many people are using HyperNews and Majordomo, and how many HyperNews and Majordomo groups are running each quarter, but we don't have any idea (other than anecdotal evidence) of how the use of these tools impacts learning.
    2. We need to look at evaluation models used at other institutions to see if there is one that we can adopt at DePaul.
    3. Tom Donley also wonders why DePaul is getting written up and recommended so often lately? To what can we attribute our new status? Does it have anything to do with teaching and/or technology?
    4. Charles Strain identified 3 measures that need to be examined with regard to technology:
      1. Technology for technology sake (e.g., number of fac using HyperNews)
      2. Technology for pedagogy sake (e.g., measures of change in student learning and attitudes as a result of technologies)
      3. Technology for personalism sake (e.g., how does technology work for or against Vincentian personalism?)
    5. These three factors also dovetail with work being done by other groups. Specifically, the metro presence and professional networks subcommittees of the strategic planning process.
    6. Sadler suggests that we focus on the goals, not on the technology. If the goal is to graduate students who can teach with analogies in education, or who can do group work with group members at various physical sites, then those are the specific learning goals we must support with an appropriate technology of the day.
    7. Based on this discussion, the following decision was made (aka, more homework)
      1. Each committee member/pair should investigate measures of teaching and learning effectiveness in their own discipline. These measures may be technology centric or not (e.g., there is little in the literature for computer science education regarding the efficacy of teaching with technology), but all of them can inform our development or adoption of models of evaluation that could be used here at DePaul.


  6. Distance Learning
    1. Distance learning is a loaded term. We need to have a clear definition of what distance learning is, and the many degrees of distance learning that fall within the traditional definition.
    2. Group recognized that "distance learning" in the broadest sense was not an either/or proposition but, rather, a component, to a lesser or greater extent, of just about all college coursework today.
    3. Issue of quality control over "online" courses was raised, along with best practices. How much quality control will be exerted over online and distance courses by the University, and how much will be left to the individual school?
    4. What best practices exist in each discipline for distance and online instruction?
    5. Based on this discussion, each College rep pair is asked to:
      1. Investigate best practices literature in your discipline and share with committee as a basis for developing best practices here at DePaul.


  7. The committee adjourned at 11:30. The next meeting is scheduled for 19 February, from 3:00-4:15 in the interactive video rooms. Homework due prior to the meeting is:
    1. Acquisition of strategic plan information from Colleges/Schools
    2. Development and consensus on a standard inventory/interview questionnaire
    3. Schedule and, if possible, complete interviews at College/School level using questionnaire
    4. Prepare summary and bibliographic pointers to discipline-specific literature regarding studies of teaching effectiveness and teaching strategies (with and without technology)
    5. Prepare summary of discipline-specific best-practices literature for "distance learning".