by James L. Morrison and Frank Tait // Vision
In today's global economy, radically different cultures trade in today's hottest commodity: knowledge. In an interview with Technology Source editor James L. Morrison, Frank Tait shares the Vision driving his work with the Chinese distance learning market as senior vice president for global marketing for SCT, a provider of higher education technology. When Morrison asks what effect SCT's initiatives may have on American and Chinese educational opportunities, Tait suggests that the technological revolution may help turn cultural barriers into diverse opportunities for creative ventures. Empowered by technologies born of cross-cultural innovation, Tait reports, global businesses like SCT can provide access to education even in rural parts of distant nations.
On the Necessity of Grassroots Evaluation of Educational Technology: Recommendations for Higher Education
by Stephen C. Ehrmann // Assessment
Busy educators have no time for those technological "advancements" that create more difficulties than they resolve. But how do we separate the wheat from the chaff? The answer, Stephen C. Ehrmann tells us, lies in better diagnostic studies of Web-enabled efforts, studies that identify those programs with marked, practical effects on student learning. Laying out several crucial questions for educators undertaking such research, Ehrmann makes even the complicated process of Assessment seem practicable.
by Mauri Collins and Zane L. Berge // Commentary
Though innumerable technological advances have been billed as one-time cure-alls, instilling technological skills in users requires constant, costly upgrades of hardware and software, as well as ongoing training and support services. Given these costs, many educators have found themselves in the uncomfortable position of arguing for greater and greater fiscal expenditures. Mauri Collins and Zane Berge suggest an alternate approach: technological minimalism. In their Commentary, Collins and Berge posit that matching pedagogical goals with specific technological tools will allow distance educators to get the most from their money. They offer a tech-savvy argument for paring instructional toolboxes down to the essentials rather than acquiring each new "gadget" on the market.
by Alton L. Taylor and Frank A. Schmidtlein // Commentary
Alton L. Taylor and Frank A. Schmidtlein offer a second Commentary on keeping up with the costs of technology. Acknowledging those unavoidable expenses that even technological minimalists must incur, Taylor and Schmidtlein remind administrators of the need for sophisticated long-term plans for implementing technology. Though loyal Technology Source readers may not need this reminder, a little of Taylor and Schmidtlein's research may help in persuading colleagues unconcerned with such priorities. According to research cited in this article, fewer than half of U.S. colleges have a long-term financial plan for supporting technology and only one in five has a curricular plan for doing so.
by Alan B. Howard // Case Studies
If your idea of interdisciplinary studies involves two professors taking turns lecturing behind a dusty overhead projector in an outdated classroom, it's time to read Alan B. Howard's Case Study. A professor of American Studies at the University of Virgnia, Howard decided a few years ago to enable M.A. students to enliven humanities scholarship with technological instruments. The result? Unmatched online collections of texts, historic photographs, and directories of additional resources?plus a group of graduates eager and prepared to take on the twenty-first century.
by Carmel McNaught and Paul Kennedy // Faculty and Staff Development
Faculty and Staff Development often takes effort, effort, effort on the parts of all members of the university community. But all that effort pays off when the program is as comprehensive and successful as Carmel McNaught and Paul Kennedy's. Their ambitious program unified seven independent faculties at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, implemented a set of standard tools, and trained 200 Learning Technology Mentors (LTMs), who received course releases and the support of their administration to help other teachers expand their technological capabilities.
by Stephen Downes // Spotlight Site
Stephen Downes shines this issue's Spotlight onto Distance-Educator.com, a Web site designed to help you keep on top of the most important distance education and online headlines every day. Distance-Educator.com provides a daily newsfeed and much more. Downes praises the site's efficient, attractive layout, easy-to-use reference guides, and abundant links that will help you stay on the cutting edge.
by Patrick Bjork // Tools
We've got a choice of three handy Tools for you: a Web research tool that identifies the specific information you need on each site, another that helps you gather statistical data on any question you want to pose online, and a third that helps you streamline those administrative tasks that take precious time from your day. Want all of the above? If you're online, you've already got them! Just let Patrick Bjork show you where they are.
by Michael Theall // Letters to the Editor
Though he is optimistic about online course evaluations, Michael Theall doesn't believe that Web-based data collection methods are fundamentally superior to their paper-and-pencil counterparts. With a sobering review of decades of research, Theall points out some of the dangers new course evaluation designers must take into consideration. Find out what they are?and how to avoid them?in his Letter to the Editor.