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A Three Year Plan for Communication Technologies

in the Faculty of Education

Dale Burnett

Frank Isaac

[1996.04.15]

Draft Version

You think you understand the situation, but what you don't understand is that the situation changed.

- Putnam Investments advertisement

Increasing the profile of computer-based technologies within the Faculty of Education is a complex process. Treating it any other way is a recipe for disaster.

A Vision

First, it is imperative for the faculty as a whole to agree on a vision of where it would like to be in three years. Here is such a vision statement.

Students enrolled in the Bachelor of Education program at the Univrsity of Lethbridge will participate in a variety of courses that exemplify the appropriate use of current communications technologies. Courses will integrate technology in activities and assignments that contribute to our students future role as technologically aware teachers. Consequently, all students graduating from the Faculty will be comfortable with the technology and will have had a substantial number of occassions where they experienced both hands-on-activities as well as in-depth discussions of issues that arise from the use of technology.

What this vision is not. It is not having our students taking a compulsory Computers in Education course.

The primary method of exposure to technology will be through application in existing courses, whereas only a small set of elective courses will focus on the technology itself. The framework for such specialized courses already exists at the 4000-level. Therefore, it is anticipated that the majority of any technology based experiences and learning strategies will occur within the Facultys existing program structure.

Finally, there will be a genuine opportunity for students to create independent studies in areas of particular interest to themselves. The vision anticipates that almost all students will take between one and two such courses, with the courses providing a strong opportunity for individually tailored assignments and activities. These courses will continue to reflect emerging trends in the educational uses of technology. The program will be known for its reputation of being up-to-date and progressive with respect to its incorporation of the technology. Graduate students will have ample opportunities to emphasize technology as part of their program of studies. All of the above vision statements focus on program and on student learning.

Implementation

In order to bring this vision into reality, two main issues need to be addressed. The first issue is faculty support and training; the second is the physical resources necessary to accommodate the vision.

The Immediate Past

Computer infrastructure support for Faculty has been increasing significantly over the last few months. Virtually all faculty members now have a computer in their office with the capability of an ethernet connection to the Internet. Productivity software is available from a fileserver and we are about to embark on a major increase to our curriculum-related software. In the past year we have allocated the equivalent of one full-time assistant to work on a one-with-one process of software familiarization.

Progress has also been made on the physical resources necessary to provide such instruction. Room A844 has been upgraded to include eleven desk-top computers, most of which are capable of some form of multimedia presentation.

An external consultant's report has suggested that we become even more aggressive in addressing these issues.

Transition Period

The next two years should be viewed as a transition period. During this time three types of activities need to be addressed:

(1) modifications to programs and policies,

(2) faculty training, and

(3) improvements to physical resources.

The third year should represent the first fully-operational period for the changes to take effect.

(1) MODIFICATIONS TO PROGRAMS

Most of the suggested changes can occur within the existing program structure. This involves the incorporation of technological topics, where appropriate, into existing courses.

We need to provide, effective Fall 1996, an opportunity for all students entering the B. Ed. program, to bring themselves up to a comfort level on these four major topics: Internet, word-processing, spreadsheets and data bases.

FALL 1996

a) Professional Semester I

The approach to be taken in September 1996 will be to adopt a model similar to that used by DEF during 1995. Assuming a total of 180 PSI students, this implies 5 sections of 36 students. The Faculty will provide a series of eight 3-hour sessions related to computer technology to each section. Here is the proposed timetable:

Monday 1pm - 4pm section ABC

Tuesday 9am - noon section MNO

Wednesday 9am - noon section GHI

Thursday 9am - noon section JKL

Friday 9am - noon section DEF

The tentative unit timetable will be as follows:

Week 1: Internet

Week 2: video-1

Week 3: video-2

Week 4: word processing

Week 5: data bases-1

Week 6: data bases-2

Week 7: spreadsheets-1

Week 8: spreadsheets-2

In addition, those faculty members who feel that they are prepared to incorporate technological topics within their units are encouraged to do so.

The above curriculum would suggest the establishment of an Educational Learning Centre with 40 computer stations.

b) 4000-level Electives

Two 4000-level electives are scheduled to be offered in the fall of 1996.

Scheduled time of the Learning Centre for PSI would thus be one weekday afternoon plus four weekday mornings. In addition, two evenings would likely be scheduled for 4000-level electives.

SPRING 1997

a) Professional Semester II

This represents a continuation of the PS I semester and represents the first real challenge for many faculty members to model appropriate communications technology activities. The students will all have the basic introduction to the Internet, word-processing, data bases and spreadsheets from the previous semester. Students should also be in a position to utilize the technology while on their practicum in maintaining students records, creating tests, constructing handouts and accessing on-line information.

b) Professional Semester III

Most of these students will not have had much exposure to technology and we should think seriously about providing some form of extra workshop-like opportunities for those students who want to learn about the new possibilities.

c) ED2500

An effort will be made to transfer the content of the Professional Semester I module to ED2500. This moves the basic computer literacy to an earlier point in the program, opening up more opportunities for educationally related computer activities through the rest of the program.

4000-level electives will likely be booked for two evenings a week.

The Learning Centre will not be as tightly scheduled, but the overall use should remain high as individual instructors reserve time for course specific activities.

SUMMER 1997

This is an opportunity for an increased set of offerings for students who have been unable to attend workshops during the spring.

ED2500 computer-activities will now be regularized.

4000-level courses will continue to be offered during this time.

FALL 1997

a) ED2500

An effort will be made to transfer the content of the Professional Semester I module to ED2500. This moves the basic computer literacy to an earlier point in the program, opening up more opportunities for educationally related computer activities through the rest of the program.

b) Professional Semester I

The content of the module will be revised (and likely shortened) to take into account the material covered in ED2500. More computer-related activities will be integrated into the other PSI modules.

(2) FACULTY TRAINING

Curt Makepeace illustrated the value of having a qualified individual available for tutoring. A minimum of one person should be hired for the fall96-spring97 semesters to provide assistance to faculty members. This person would also provide a series of tailored workshops to meet the needs of various subgroupings.

An amount of money should be set aside for faculty members to attend professional development conferences related to eductional technology. It is important that everyone become involved and be familiar with developments that pertain to their areas of interest. It is suggested that $30,000. be set aside for this purpose for ech of the next two years.

(3) IMPROVEMENTS TO COMPUTING INFRASTRUCTURE

The entire seventh floor media area needs to be redesigned and refurnished to meet the needs outlined above. This area needs to be able to accomodate up to 40 students at one time.

Although the lab needs to have the capability of meeting the PSI needs, this should not be a driving force in the design of the area. Rather this area should be viewed as an opportunity to provide an exemplary communications-based learning centre. As such, the area should be designed around the idea of individual workstations, and the overall design should provide a warm and inviting environment for study and exploration. This should primarily be an educational drop-in center where students at all points in the program can meet and share ideas and techniques. The area should be student-centered rather than instructor-centered.

The Educational Communications Room (A844) should be upgraded to reflect the current level of multi-media based authoring environments. This room will serve a distinctly different purpose from the seventh level area. This room will contain both hardware and software necessary for students who wish to pursue a more focused study of multi-media materials that are intended for the design and production of instructional materials. The production of quality materials for mounting on the Web will occur in this area.This area will be a shared area for faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students wishing to conduct independent studies and projects. Approximately 12 stations will be reserved for this purpose.

4) BUDGET

They're only puttin in a nickel, but they want a dollar song

- Song title

a) Education Communications Room (A844)

The average cost for each of 12 stations will be $10,000. and the accompanying software will average about $5,000. per station. (The cost for Authorware is approx. $2400 and Toolbook CBT is $999 U.S. for example.). Approximately one third of the hardware will be replaced annually ($40,000.) and the annual upgrades to software will be closer to 60% ($36,000).

Initial start-up cost:

Hardware $120,000.

Software $60,000.

Total $180,000.

Annual upgrade cost:

Hardware $40,000.

Software $36,000.

Total $76,000.

b) Learning Centre (B773)

For the seventh level, 40 new stations ($4,000) =$160,000.

Software: $3,000/station = $120,000.

Machines will be replaced on a three year cycle: $50,000.

Software will be replaced on a rate of $2,000/station: $80,000.

Peripherals (scanners, printers, audio/video equipment): $50,000.

Replacement of 50%/year: $25,000.

Fileservers: $30,000.

Initial start-up cost:

Hardware $240,000.

Software $120,000.

Total $360,000.

Annual upgrade cost:

Hardware $75,000.

Software $80,000.

Total $155,000.

c) Budget Totals

Initial start-up cost: $540,000.

Annual upgrade cost: $267,000.

The detail of the commitment is not important. Both hardware and software are constantly changing. What is important is the scale of the commitment.

We need to establish a quality environment that the Faculty and the university can be proud of.

Roughly 35 of the seventh level machines should be Macintosh and 5 should be Windows95 machines. This will give us a gradual transition to a more even distribution between the two platforms. As we gain experience with the dual platform concept, we will shift toward a more even ratio.

5) COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY COMMITTEE

In the 1980s the faculty of Education had a standing committee to assist in planning and making recommendations. We believe that the committee should be reconstituted for a period of 5 years to provide a general faculty perspective to decisions that so centrally affect our programs.