The Larger Question about Technology in Higher Education
The iPad or mobile computing hype for Higher Education continues to be strong but grasping for articles. I sense media is a bit frustrated that Higher Ed has not been able to embrace the iPad, but that is just the calm we are in before the storm. The larger question of technology in Higher Education may be the more interesting topic right now. Our university was just selected by Fast Company as one of the top five technologically decked out institutions that students would want to select. Of course a mid size regional private university like George Fox was impressed most by being listed with Stanford, Duke and Notre Dame. The reality is that we really are technologically ahead of the game but it is not strategically driven. We just happen to have had a visionary president 20 years ago who initiated a laptop program for undergraduate students to distinguish us for marketing value. And that core laptop commitment gave me the institutional motivation needed to drive EdTech initiatives. So Fast Company made a selection based on headline hits, and yes our students are technologically decked out. But the real reason we are a good choice is that we keep technology in perspective. We build or buy it if it will really be used. We understand that at best 20% of our faculty will actually benefit or care about these great technological advances. But that is OK, that 20% is enough to justify the attention we want our students to place in the technology we provide them.
The larger question I mentioned is technology in Higher Education. Technology that is no longer about the computers we provide or require our students to use. No longer about the software that we believe is the gateway to prosperity. No longer about how to make information available for learning. No, it is about how to use what we have created. Students have plenty of acceptable choices for managing the information they need for the creation of knowledge. Higher Education now must help optimize this use of technology. Teaching may be more important then ever. Teachers used to provide the information that they molded into knowledge. Now they must help the student filter the information in hopes of influencing the knowledge that will be formed. So maybe being technologically decked out helped George Fox to have the largest and smartest new class ever. But maybe we have been recognized for the importance of a 12 to 1 student to faculty ratio working with a great information filtering system.