Barriers to and Strategies for Faculty Integration of IT

Barriers to and Strategies for Faculty Integration of IT

Thomas M. Brinthaupt (Middle Tennessee State University, USA), Maria A. Clayton (Middle Tennessee State University, USA) and Barbara J. Draude (Middle Tennessee State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 8
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch021
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Abstract

At most institutions of higher education, faculty members wear many “hats.” Among other responsibilities, they are expected to teach, conduct research, and participate in institutional and public service. Within the teaching realm, faculty members have always had multiple responsibilities. For example, in addition to being content experts, they may need to become course design, assessment, communication, community or interaction experts. Instructors can be described as architects, consultants, resources, reviewers, and role models (Oblinger & Hawkins, 2006). It is primarily (though not exclusively) in the teaching realm where instructional technology (IT) is relevant. The more that faculty utilize IT, the more the non-content aspects of teaching become salient. Depending on level of faculty expertise, asking them to increase the time and effort they put into their teaching might reduce the time and effort they can devote to research, service, and other institutional requirements and responsibilities. Why should they, especially if there is very little acknowledgment or tenure/promotion credit given for incorporating IT into their teaching? This is, in part, why many faculty members may have to be dragged “kicking and screaming” into using these technologies.
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Background

To address the predicament faced by faculty, it would be helpful to provide some guidelines on how to balance multiple roles (and the time and effort required). However, there do not appear to be any models that deal with this challenge. One way to help understand the process of IT adoption is to consider the different roles or positions of individual faculty members. For example, non-users of IT face a much steeper learning curve than do instructors who have partially or fully integrated IT into their teaching. Learning to use IT might, therefore, be thought of as a socialization process.

In their model of socialization to groups, psychologists Moreland and Levine (2000) highlight the importance of the processes of evaluation, commitment, and role transition. In particular, in order to acquire a new identity as a group member, an individual must pass from being a prospective member to a new member to a full member. This passage is a function of how both the group and individual evaluate each other, their respective levels of commitment to each other, and the eventual transition in roles as the individual passes into and through the group.

For purposes of this chapter, we assume that higher education faculty go through a similar socialization process with IT integration. In particular, they must first evaluate the IT options available to them and determine if using those options is feasible. If their commitment to integrating IT into their teaching is high enough, they may begin learning about those options, depending on the support and resources of their institution. This learning process might shift the instructor’s role from a prospective user to a new user and eventually to a full user of IT. The barriers to IT integration vary depending on the user roles that faculty play in this socialization process, how they evaluate IT, their own and their institution’s levels of commitment to its use, and their IT learning curve. Table 1 presents a developmental model of faculty integration of IT loosely based on Moreland and Levine’s (2000) group socialization model.

Table 1.
Developmental model of faculty integration of IT
RoleEvaluationCommitmentLearning Curve
Non-userNegative or neutralLowVery Steep
Prospective userNegative, neutral, or positiveLow to mediumVery Steep
New userNegative, neutral, or positiveMedium to highSteep
Experienced userPositiveHighModerately steep

Key Terms in this Chapter

Advanced Instructional Technologies: Cutting-edge technologies that have not been widely used in educational settings.

Basic Instructional Technologies: Technologies such as email and web pages that are considered standard tools of IT.

Student-Centered Instruction (Constructivism): Current approach to education based on active engagement with content.

Teacher-Centered Instruction: Traditional approach to education based on information dissemination, and passive learning.

Instructional Technology: Applications of technology aimed at instructional objectives.

Net Generation: Persons born in the 1980’s or later; members of the Net Generation have never known life without the Internet.

New Academy: “acknowledges the changes manifested in the Net Generation; uses the power of technology to enable deeper learning; demonstrates the interplay of interaction of culture and technology; and changes the nature of interaction among members” (Barone, 2005, p. 14.1).

Learning Management System (LMS): Platform: Applications that collect the most frequently used IT tools into a combined application that can be integrated into a University’s enterprise systems.

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