Colleges and universities have been actively engaged in integrating technology in teaching and learning activities since the early 1990s. These activities have been as varied as the university’s missions and the clarity of their aims for technology-assisted instruction allowed. In tandem with the widespread institutional support for new computers and software many faculty invested time and energy in learning how to use the new tools in their own teaching and disciplines; other faculty went further and became agents for transforming teaching and learning within their institutions and in their professional organizations. However, worldwide global changes are happening faster than change is occurring in higher education teaching and learning curricula and the resulting learning outcomes of students. Acquiring the intellectual capabilities necessary for technology fluency and information literacy generally and in particular within content domains remains elusive. Growing calls for students to demonstrate technology fluency competencies in their disciplines and chosen professions is a pressing challenge and a necessity.
The “new economy” of the 21st century is driven in large measure by unprecedented advances in computing, information and communications technologies and transportation. To be competitive, industrialized and developing nations alike are driven by the need for greater use of science and technology tools by average citizens; improved understanding of highly complex, interacting systems; the need for building community and solving local challenges in the face of globalization and mass customization; and a substantial rethinking of retailing, services, and business in general.
In The Singularity Is Near Ray Kurzweil (2005) proposes that the exponential rates of technological change in modern times offer possibilities for significant shifts in the way we approach healthcare, energy, agriculture, communications, and many other fundamental challenges. Shifts will occur as time-honored content and emerging ideas integrate in innovative ways with old and new technologies to benefit modern society’s needs.
Educators have the responsibility to structure curricula and learning so that students will acquire the skills and knowledge to lead and participate in these upcoming shifts. Deciding what students need to know and will be able to do in the context of a changing panoply of computing, information and communications technologies is a critical step in implementing this framework. A next step is rigorous assessment that demonstrates the manner and degree to which the learning is taking place. An assessment shift is immediately apparent as the framework demands that we assess information literacies, technology fluencies and content competencies at once, and not as separated remnants of the last century’s economic and social imperatives (Goldin, 2001).
Key Terms in this Chapter
Contemporary Skills: “The ability to use today’s computer applications, enable people to apply information technology immediately…are an essential component of job readiness…[and] provide…practical experience on which to build new competence.”
Intellectual Capabilities: “The ability to apply information technology in complex and sustained situations, encapsulate higher-level thinking in the context of information technology…empowers people to manipulate media to their advantage and to handle unintended and unexpected problems when they arise…[and] foster more abstract thinking about information and its manipulation.”
Evaluation: A process in which designers of learning activities and artifacts focus on what works in a very applied situation and seeks to discern whether a system does what it was designed to do in an effective and efficient manner.
Learning Delivery System: An approach to conveying teaching and learning activities. For example, distance learning represents one kind of learning system involving various technologies to deliver materials and instruction to students who are not physically present with a teacher, lecturing face-to-face represents another kind of learning system involving a person delivering instruction and materials orally to students physically present in the same place with a teacher.
Research: One type of research involves the process of testing a component of a learning theory within a learning system under development.
Assessment: A process of measuring learner performance either before or after a teaching intervention, or both is the aim of assessment. “Asessment can be part of evaluation, but assessment and evaluation are not synonymous.” (Lockee, Moore, Burton, 2002, p. 21)
Foundational Concepts: “The principles and ideas of computers, networks, and information, underpin the technology…explain the how and why of information technology…give insight into its limitations and opportunities…[and] are the raw material for understanding new information technology as it evolves.”
Learning Outcomes: The defined results (e.g., what a student knows and is able to do) of pursuing certain learning activities.