What Centers for Teaching and Learning Can Do to Assist in Technology Integration

[consider a new title: The Role of Centers for Teaching and Learning in Integrating Technology in Instruction]

Go to previous version

Go to original version with critical reviews

This is a good article that has been improved since the first draft. We suggest developing ideas more thoroughly in response to highlighted critical comments included parenthetically in the text. Also consider adding more links to CTL sites: plans, curricula, evaluation tools, etc etc. Finally, at every step make sure to include practical ideas, in addition to theory. You have included more practical information than in the first draft, but this practical level needs to be present in every paragraph.]

Incorporating information technology tools [consider using "information technology tools" for "technology" and "information technology" throughout the article,"] into classroom instruction often begins as a grassroots effort rather than as part of a system plan. Once some faculty members begin using information technology in instruction, more become interested. As computer technology becomes more accepted and integrated at an institution, a center for teaching and learning can play a critical role: motivating, teaching, listening, and partnering (Marcinkiewicz, 2000). When computer technology is still perceived as an innovation, the center can help explore its new capabilities. As the technology systematically replaces older forms, the center can show how computer technology can replace or complement previous methods and how it can generate new uses. Once computer technology has become a part of the infrastructure and is a typical teaching element, the center can prepare for having developed [unclear] a reciprocating relationship with faculty.

The following is a list of suggestions for what a center for teaching and learning can do to help faculty members and institutions with technology integration (TI).

Resolve that computer technology serves instruction, not the reverse. During training it may be necessary to shift primary focus either to classroom instruction or to computer technology, which creates the perception that your goal has changed. You will be criticized for emphasizing either aspect. Follow your resolved goal, and continually remind others of it. [Critic AB writes: "Stress the potential of T&L Centers to contribute to the design and development of effective instruction in general, including low-tech. There are still many places, I suspect, where technology has become dominant and where it is assumed that all that's needed is to use all the bells & whistles available. Fair and reasonable evaluation of tech-based instruction is also required."] [Critic W suggests that you develop more thoroughly the idea that the opportune time to promote technology integration is when the technology is still an innovation. What does that mean for planning, training, and communication?]

Understand the conditions needed to enable TI. Thomas Gilbert's model of human competence is an elegant description of the balance of contributions that an institution and its faculty must commit in order to realize competence—in this case with TI. Gilbert lists institutional and individual responsibilities for each of three categories: data, knowledge, and information (1978). The institution provides incentives, faculty members provide the will to be motivated [Please respond to the comments of one critic, who wrote: "I still feel that this language needs clarification. Just what is 'the will to be motivated'? Does the author mean that faculty are largely self-motivated? This makes sense and is in line with the literature, but it also fits with the previous words about the institution providing incentives." This critic suggests the following re-wording: " ...institutional incentives can help, but because faculty are largely self-motivated, the incentives must capitalize on this intrinsic emphasis... ] ; the institution provides equipment, faculty members learn to use it; the institution expresses its expectations for TI and provides training and placement; faculty know the expectations and get the training. These conditions are critical. An institution without a plan for them may not achieve TI. [Critic W suggests that you develop *even more* Gilbert's model of human competence. The critic writes: "if the conditions needed to enable TI aren't addressed, the strategies that follow may not be effective. The idea of the institution providing incentives is a great example.  Most universities, especially research universities, provide incentives for faculty NOT to engage in technology integration. Why should my T&L center painstakingly plan and conduct technology integration activities when, as former EDUCOM executive director Kenneth King once noted, junior faculty engage in instructional innovation activities 'at their peril'?" Don't forget to consider the level of *how* this is to be implemented on a practical level.]

Inform the institution about responsibilities that need to be assumed. Learn about the equipment and software. Know what works, why, and under what conditions it is most appropriate.

Plan and mobilize for the parts of the model you can influence. This includes fostering motivation, creating incentives, and providing training. A center for teaching and learning can motivate by responding to the expressed expectations to integrate technology and to the technological changes made in the infrastructure.

Campaign for TI in order to create an institutional culture where the use of computer technology is expected. Research indicates that the best predictor of TI is subjective norms, a construct akin to peer pressure. It is a perception that those in your work sphere expect you to integrate technology. The most influential ones are the administration, students, colleagues, and learned societies. (Marcinkiewicz, 1993/94; Marcinkiewicz & Regstad, 1996).

Plan how you will assess your program. Build a database of activities, participation rates, and evaluations to assist your recordkeeping.

Develop a training plan along with the faculty. At my institution, there was a pent-up desire among the faculty to have a presence on the Web. I learned about various course managers [By "presence on the Web," do you mean that faculty members wanted to put their courses online? And do you mean, by "course managers," online course management systems such as WebCT? Please clarify.], invited vendors, developed a theory-based rating scale, and informed the faculty and other campus stakeholders. There was open and interested participation in the review process. I sought help for training from a network of colleagues from around the country, and organized day-long, hands-on training sessions. A few of the early adopters [of a course manager? if so, which one?]learned the program well enough to become the trainers for the next institutes. Because the course manager includes many features and requires specific procedural knowledge, the training session topics were limited and focused. I found it absolutely necessary to acknowledge the needs of highly intelligent adults learning computer technology—which required patience, low instructor-student ratios, much focused time, and collegial support. I also practiced good teaching principles by allow multiple, and authentic, opportunities for practice.

Schedule various training times and session lengths, and be creative in scheduling. The standard matrix format [please explain what this is]of training sessions was the least successful, likely because of busy faculty schedules. Instead, I recommend one of the following. 50-minute training sessions focusing on one topic, offered repeatedly and at different times of day throughout the semester, were well-received. Special-interest groups, which can include discussion and lunch sessions about software use or topics in teaching and learning, can work. Walk-in lab sessions, with the topic decided by the person walking in, can also be successful, as long as the ratios are low. Another option is to schedule institutes that last several days, or short courses for professors conducted by their peerssuch as, for example, a course running three hours per session for ten weeks, with meals and stipend provided.

Communicate initially, repeatedly, and often. Communication does not stop after accomplishing TI; you need to communicate its success or failure. Just as maintenance must be considered when budgeting for information technology, so follow-up time must be considered when budgeting for TI. Communicate with faculty, sharing ideas and knowledge, and set up panels of expert faculty. Communicate by campus-wide e-mail and paper announcements. Learning is dynamic and is subject to cycles and fluxes; overemphasizing a TI topic will stop getting attention. Therefore, project low visibility for a while and then repeat announcements as necessary. Keep the element of surprise while maintaining a stable schedule of activities.

Empower faculty members by having them participate in technology decisions, plan and conduct training sessions, and lead by example. Encourage faculty members to take risks with innovative applications. Faculty members will likely reconfigure computer-technology use in ways beyond original expectations.

Throughout, lead and serve faculty under the banner of "instruction leads technology."


Gilbert, T. F. (1978). Human competence: Engineering worthy performance. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Marcinkiewicz, H. R. (2000). Implementation strategies: Will teachers use educational computing? Retrieved 12 March 2001 from the World Wide Web: http://www.ferris.edu/HTMLS/academics/center/paper42.html.

Marcinkiewicz, H. R., & Regstad, N. G. (1996). Using subjective norms to predict teachers' computer use. Journal of Computing in Teacher Education, 13(1), 27–33.

Marcinkiewicz, H. R. (1993/94). Computers and teachers: Factors influencing computer use in the classroom. Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 26(2), 220–237.

Related Reading about Creating Dependence and Infrastructure. [APA doesn't include references to articles not cited in the text. If you wish to retain them, please cite them; otherwise, delete.]

Forbes, January 10, 2000; "UPS Company of the year."

Norman, Donald A. (1998). The invisible computer. MIT Press: Cambridge, MA