Technology Adoption – Moving From Systems to Students
Higher education leaders have leveraged various technologies to assist with administrative functions for well over a quarter century. Human resource, finance, information services and other backroom systems have been made more effective and efficient through the application of various software / hardware solutions.
In the last twenty years, our industry has also benefitted from the deployment and adoption of web-based solutions. Many of these services are applied in non-teaching and learning activities such as marketing, recruitment and research. They include recognizable names such Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. Interestingly, none of these brands even existed a decade ago.
Impact on Teaching and Learning
When we review information and communication technologies (ICTs) as they relate to the core business of higher education (teaching and learning) there is less agreement as to its impact and potential. Steve Kolowich described one example of this dichotomy in a recent Inside Higher Education article about the growth and outcomes of online education. Certainly educators have grappled with the relevance and then the effective application of ICTs for several years. Yet, today, what has become increasing clear to me is that the application of ICTs will continue to increase and those institutions that do not embrace emerging technologies to support the teaching and learning experience will suffer the consequences.
Although there are debates as to the most effective application of ICT in the classroom, I know of no college or university that has not benefited to some degree from some technological application. Further, I would suggest that ICTs will have a deeper and more disruptive impact on how colleges and universities do their work in the years ahead. The question is not weather ICTs will continue to be used in higher education, but rather, what possible areas of higher education will not be impacted by this new technological revolution and how can we use ICTs to widen access, increase quality and lower costs.
Addressing the Concern
When reflecting on the challenges ahead, my greatest concern is not the selection and adoption of appropriate technologies. Rather, it is the task of determining what needs to be done to support our faculty through this daunting change management process and then having the wherewithal to commit to this support.
In my view, Algonquin faculty and staff have positioned our College to lead the way in the effective use of ICTs in the context of the Canadian college and polytechnic system. To ensure Algonquin College builds upon our first mover advantage, it is my intention to ensure our academic leadership group listens carefully to these professors to better understand when and where to apply appropriate ICT solutions. Most importantly, we will come to a better understanding as to how to further support these professional educators through this exciting, yet complex period.
In the Days Ahead
As Algonquin prepares for the continuous changes ahead, I find wisdom in the words of the late Steve Jobs. Even one of the world’s great technological advocates reminded us: ”Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have a faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them”.
At Algonquin, we are lucky to have those people and I have faith in them. I am also confident that our institution will continue to lead the way in the effective application of information communication technologies in Ontario’s post secondary education system. My rationale for this commitment is clear: In the end we fulfil our institutional mission with our students being the ultimate benefactors.