by James L. Morrison and Judith V. Boettcher // Vision
Everyone has a Vision of the future of education; Judith Boettcher, executive director of the Corporation for Research and Educational Networking, is no exception. But in addition to looking forward to the day when programmable robots will provide learning resources and "embedded" teachers will manage virtual classrooms, Boettcher also looks back to these age-old questions: What is learning? What is teaching? What is the value of an academic experience? In order to build a worthwhile future, she tells interviewer James Morrison, we must "reevaluate everything" that hitherto has structured educational institutions.
by James Perley // Commentary
Is something essential to higher education sacrificed when college and university courses take place online rather than on-campus? In his Commentary, James Perley questions the efficacy of online institutions that offer courses designed by one person, taught by another, and graded by yet another. "This system introduces elements of rigidity and homogeneity that interfere with the more interesting elements of learning," he argues. Perley defends the traditional university and elaborates on the "vital elements" students could lose "if they take their education only as far as their computers."
by Mary Harrsch // Commentary
In her counterpoint Commentary, Mary Harrsch responds to James Perley with a critique of the higher-education status quo, suggesting that on-line education alternatives may assure academic freedom, encourage creativity, and respond to student needs even better than the traditional university.
by Joel Foreman, Stephen Ruth, and Ted Tschudy // Case Studies
In the first of two Case Studies, three professors describe Teaming in Cyberspace (TIC), a course they recently team-taught at George Mason University. Because of the nature of the subject, Stephen Ruth and his colleagues convened students in a classroom only four times; they replaced in-class activities with TV and audiocassette lectures, reflective writing assignments, self-paced learning exercises, linkages with online teaming practitioners, and an online conference about knowledge management. The result? Almost all students gave the course an excellent evaluation, and the professors now confidently recommend that others try teaching in the "middle ground": somewhere between high-tech and high-touch.
by Matthew Nickerson // Case Studies
Not all important technological advances happen at the cutting-edge; some result from novel combinations of existing hardware and software, as Matthew Nickerson explains in this issue's second Case Study. At the Gerald R. Sherratt Library at Southern Utah University, technology specialists have integrated four existing technologies in order to provide patrons with unprecedented online access to the library's special collections. The system makes finding a 1910 photograph of southern Utah's first college graduates as easy as locating a popular book. Discover how by reading further, and try the technology for yourself by following Nickerson's easy instructions.
by Mark Donovan // Faculty and Staff Development
When conducting Faculty and Staff Development programs, instructional technologists often talk about "integrating technology into teaching" or "teaching with technology." Mark Donovan believes that these phrases should be avoided because they keep the term technology on center stage. "In order to be truly effective and transformative," Donovan tells us, "these technologies must be bundled with dynamic instructional methods and approaches." At the University of Washington, Donovan and his colleagues focus on the innovative teaching strategies which make new technology effective in the classroom. Does this rhetorical shift make a difference? You bet.
by Brittany Greenwell and Sarah C. Mazer // Spotlight Site
The New American Schools (NAS) Website, this month's Spotlight Site, offers valuable ideas for schools and educators interested in promoting educational change on the organizational level. The site describes seven innovative designs for school organization, including a Modern Red Schoolhouse model where students learn in divisions, rather than grades, and pass specific skill and knowledge tests to move to the next division. Besides detailing each model, the site provides links to publications by NAS and to information on the organization's mission and goals. Readers seeking a glimpse of the possibilities for 21st-century elementary, middle, and high schools will enjoy this site for both its informative content and its accessible design.