by Keith Hmieleski and Matthew V. Champagne // Assessment
Anyone who has taken a college course knows what happens after the final; instructors pass out the infamous course evaluation sheetthe remaining obstacle between students and their long-awaited semester breaks. With their backpacks already slung over their shoulders and their car keys in hand, students typically scribble out their ratings of course content and teacher performance in about twenty seconds flat before scooting out the door. Is there any way that instructors and administrators can receive more thoughtful feedback from students? Keith Hmieleski and Matthew Champagne argue that Web-based evaluation is a much better method of review. High-tech course evaluation, they explain, wards against the all-too-common "autopsy approach," whereby instructors use evaluation results to determine what went wrong in a course only after the course is over. Hmieleski and Champagne thus inaugurate our new Assessment section, which results from collaboration with the American Association for Higher Education's TLT Group.
by James Shimabukuro // Vision
Conferences have long been important opportunities for professionals to exchange ideas, present current trends in their fields, and develop relationships with their colleagues. As the influence of technology permeates the professional world more and more, many conferences are now taking place, at least to some degree, over the Internet. According to James Shimabukuro, there are two key challenges to the success of these virtual professional gatherings: balancing face-to-face and virtual interaction, and maintaining flexibility in terms of conference scheduling. Shimabukuro's Vision of the future of tech-savvy conferences draws on his five years of experience with the Teaching in the Community Colleges Online Conference.
by Joseph Slowinski // Commentary
While Shimabukuro argues for better technology in planning online conferences, Joe Slowinski's Commentary addresses the challenge of insuring that teachers improve their technology use in their classrooms. "Despite growing access to technology in schools," he reveals, "the number of teachers who report using technology in the teaching and learning process remains limited." Yet while teachers seem reluctant to integrate technology fully into their courses, states are continually enacting legislation that holds them accountable for technology competency. To remedy this inconsistency, Slowinski suggests key policies that he believes will allow teacher-training institutions to model appropriate technology use to emerging educators.
by Peshe C. Kuriloff // Commentary
Most sports players can testify to the great sense of reward and accomplishment that accompanies a team's success. These same players also know the hard work and collaboration that such success requires. Since teamwork is so invaluable on the court, can't it also bring success in the professional world? In our second Commentary, Peshe Kuriloff argues that it can. Collaboration among teachers and technologists, she explains, is crucial to improving instruction in all disciplines. As she has discovered in her direction of the Mellon Writing Project at the University of Pennsylvania, this kind of teamwork is a winning situation for all.
Why Can't We Just Get on with It? Forces that Complicate the Integration of Technology into Teaching and Learning
by Nancy Cooley and Michelle A. Johnston // Commentary
In our third Commentary, Nancy Cooley and Michelle Johnston explain the many factors that impede teachers' technology use in P-16 classrooms. While Slowinski suggests that responsibility for teachers' poor implementation of technology lies with teacher-training institutions, Cooley and Johnston contend that the sources of this problem are varied and complex, requiring more broad-based solutions. As they describe, poor funding and training and insufficient incentives and rewards are just a few of the many circumstances that continue to hinder greater educational achievement. Much like Peshe Kuriloff, Cooley and Johnston argue that teamwork is the impetus for better teaching and learning. They call for collaboration among teachers, administrators, and higher education faculty to develop a comprehensive approach to technology use.
by Bethany M. Baxter // Commentary
Though most of our authors advocate technology as a way of customizing our educational system for the twenty-first century, Bethany Baxter reminds us not to forget the successes of schools of the past. In our fourth Commentary, she explains how technology can allow everything old to be new again in modern education. Recollecting the days of one-room schoolhouses, she suggests that the individualized learning of the past was highly effective in insuring that students mastered skills, regardless of their ages or the number of years they had attended school. According to Baxter, today's teachers can replicate and improve upon this model. She asserts, "technology gives teachers the ability to again offer every child an individualized learning plan and to implement mastery learning using an abundance of resources."
Collaboration In and Out of the Classroom: Clemson University's Collaborative Learning Environment (CLE)
by Kathy Biggs // Case Studies
Along with Kuriloff, Cooley, and Johnston, Kathy Biggs advocates greater collaboration in her Case Study of Clemson University's Collaborative Learning Environment (CLE). But while our other authors focus on professional teamwork, Biggs stresses the benefits of collaboration among students and professors. Providing examples from the English, Psychology, Chemistry, and Management Departments, she explains how the CLE enhances learning, enabling students to produce better projects for their courses, easily exchange ideas with their classmates, and effectively use resources in the community and in other University departments. She notes that the CLE has risen to prominence as a learning tool at Clemson largely because of student enthusiasm, suggesting that the system is succeeding in its job of improving the future of education.
by Dalton Young and Patricia Reed // Case Studies
Increasingly, state governments are passing initiatives that require not only greater technology hardware in schools, but also greater technology proficiency among teachers. But as many teachers and school administrators well know, tougher standards for technology use in education do not automatically guarantee success in such integration. Dalton Young and Patricia Reed present a Case Study of OKTechMasters, a program in Oklahoma that picks up where state requirements leave off. By expertly training master teachers, who then model their skills to their peer teachers, OKTechMasters ensures that technology training suits teachers' needs. As Young and Reed explain, the program is a positive step toward the state's ultimate goal: "to place a 'lead technology teacher' (LTT), an expert in technology infusion, in every wing of every school building in Oklahoma within five years."
by Nancy Levenburg and Howard Major // Faculty and Staff Development
In their Faculty and Staff Development article, Nancy Levenburg and Howard Major examine the challenge of motivating faculty to take advantage of the growing prominence of distance education. According to Levenburg and Major, many professors have been slow to accept distance learning as a concept because of the traditional basis for evaluating instructor performance: research, teaching, and service. They assert that faculty should instead be encouraged to adapt to new technology through rewards that motivate, such as evaluations based on student learning rather than performance in the classroom. Through techniques such as these, they explain, teachers will become excited about new possibilities through technology.
by Yuehua Zhang // Faculty and Staff Development
Yuehua Zhang advises that the time to get teachers excited about technology is before they are actually teaching at all. Zhang suggests that good relationships between pre-service and in-service teachers are key to good Faculty and Staff Development. Yet successful technology training for pre-service teachers is not reliant solely on in-service mentors, Zhang explains; students can also generate excitement for technology-assisted projects during future teachers' classroom visits. Using a collaborative project between K-8 teachers and Concordia University education students as evidence, Zhang describes the way in which teachers in training can benefit from exchanges with current teachers and students alike.
by Stephen Downes // Spotlight Site
Learning Web course design can often be an intimidating prospect for faculty members accustomed to teaching in a traditional way. Luckily, there is help available to those taking that first step toward high-tech teaching. In the Spotlight this issue is the UMUC-Bell Atlantic Virtual Resource Site for Teaching with Technology, an online resource developed and maintained by the University of Maryland University College. As Stephen Downes explains, the site is a simple yet valuable resource for teachers who want to use technology to enhance their teaching.
by Roberto Bamberger // Letters to the Editor
In a Letter to the Editor, Roberto Bamberger responds to Stephen Downes' commentary in our July/August issue, in which Downes complains that Microsoft Word does not adequately accommodate speakers of Canadian English. Bamberger, of Microsoft's Higher Education Division, asserts that Microsoft's 2000 suite of tools does account for language differences such as this, and he defends Microsoft Office as allowing "more personalization and customization than any other productivity suite on the market."
by Mary Harrsch // Letters to the Editor
In our second Letter to the Editor, Mary Harrsch echoes Bamberger's statements, adding that a software company's balance of advanced production with affordability for consumers can often be quite a task. Additionally, while Downes criticizes some of Microsoft Word's help features, Harrsch expresses her appreciation for the features, revealing her affinity for "Rocky" the friendly assistant.