Status in Education
Technology offers tremendous opportunities for increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of online learning in the future. Over the past few years, technology has been integrated into most areas of education. Most students, faculty, staff, and administrators now use technology extensively in their daily activities and have become reasonably computer and technology literate. However, with this rapid and broad introduction of technology into education and online learning, it, unfortunately, has done surprisingly little towards significantly enhancing the quality and productivity of our learning programs. Meaningful examples of where technology has led to significant improvements in the quality or productivity of online learning are atypical.
According to the report, A Test of Leadership: Charting the Future of U. S. Higher Education (2006), “American higher education has taken little advantage of important innovations that would increase capacity, effectiveness and productivity.”
The report goes on to say that:
Institutions … failed to sustain and nurture innovation in our colleges and universities; … that results of scholarly research on teaching and learning are rarely translated into practice …; that little of the significant research of the past decade in areas such as cognitive science, neurosciences and organizational theory is making it into American classroom practice, whether at the K-12 level or in colleges and universities; our postsecondary institutions have not embraced opportunities for innovations, from new methods of teaching and content delivery to technological advances; both state and federal policymakers have failed to make supporting innovation a priority by adequately providing incentives for individuals, employers, and institutions to pursue more opportunities for innovative, effective and efficient practice.
Among the report’s “strategic action” recommendations is:
Our colleges and universities must become more transparent, faster to respond to rapidly changing circumstances and increasingly productive in order to deal effectively with the powerful forces of change they now face.
In an interview for the Chronicle of Higher Education on “E-Learning Successes and Failures” (January 5, 2007), Robert Zemsky, Chair of the Learning Alliance for Higher Education and co-author of Thwarted Innovation: What Happened to E-Learning and Why (Zemsky & Massy, 2004), puts much of the above in perspective for us relative to e-learning: “I thought that e-learning, through media-rich technology, might provide some solutions, but it hasn’t.” … “But what we call e-learning is often just electronic workbooks.”
Neugent and Fox (January 1, 2007) provide an overarching reflection on the question of the “status of technology in learning” as follows: “ Unfortunately, despite the large outlays of funds for hardware, software, and connectivity, the degree to which technology has been integrated into teaching and learning remains largely disappointing.”