Common Culture Created / Supported / Enhanced By The Academic Library On Campus
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How can a college or university best support the faculty in the process of rethinking courses and curricula to unleash the truly revolutionary potential for technology to enhance learning? This article presents four key strategies that have contributed to a growing campus culture at embrace the potential of technological tools to enable fundamental pedagogical changes. Specific examples of each strategy are provided and key success factors are identified.
In recent years the potential of information technology to enhance teaching and learning has been demonstrated in virtually every subject matter discipline. At the same time, most faculty have become comfortable using word processing programs, e-mail, and the World Wide Web, and a wider range of user friendly software has become available. The 1998 National Survey of Desktop Computing and Information Technology in Higher Education revealed that the percentage of college classes using technology continues to increase, with 44.4 percent using e-mail and 36 percent using presentation handouts.1
These fairly common uses of technology in the higher education classroom, however, still do not capitalize on the real power of technology to make available real-world situations, aid visualization, facilitate collaborative activity among students, support analysis and synthesis of information, simulate complex environments, and provide continual feedback.2 These “deeper” uses of technology require conceptualizing the teaching and learning process in a different way and envisioning new instructional approaches that might assist students in attaining course goals.
Educational research reveals that new knowledge grows out of the process of relating new ideas to what we already know and exploring the interrelationships among ideas; new knowledge is not transmitted but is created by the learner. Also, knowledge is constructed by learners as they attempt to make sense out of their experiences and test their own understanding against that of others, notably those of teachers or more advanced peers.3 Technology can enhance learning by fostering the active processing and application of new ideas and by providing opportunities for students to engage in dialogue about ideas with their peers outside of class time.
One of the obstacles to integrating technology into our courses in ways that maximize the impact on student learning is the tendency to look at technology as a way of enhancing our current instructional approaches rather than starting from the “ground up.” Instead, we need to look back to our fundamental student learning goals for a specific course and brainstorm ways to assist students to reach these goals, keeping in mind that active involvement and dialogue about ideas are powerful catalysts for learning. Most faculty members find this kind of thinking energizing since their primary interest is in teaching and learning rather than technology. The question is, “How can a college or university best support this process of rethinking courses and curricula to unleash the truly revolutionary potential for technology to enhance learning?”
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