ICT Applications in U.S. Higher Education

ICT Applications in U.S. Higher Education

Michelle O. Crosby-Nagy, John M. Carfora
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61692-822-3.ch004
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This chapter examines applications of information and communications technologies (ICTs) for education, including multi-user virtual environments (MUVEs) and their returns to teaching and learning in U.S. higher education. ICT applications are most valuable when used in the context of courses with a team-based approach to learning or collaboration opportunities. Some drivers of ICT integration are discussed including the internationalization of higher education and the Millennial generation as the new customers of higher education. Recommendations for the fundamentals of positive ICT applications and integration are provided, as well as a discussion about the future of ICT applications such as MUVEs.
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Information and communications technology (ICT) is defined as any medium used to transmit information, and is often used synonymously with the term “information technology” (IT); however, ICTs tend to be more inclusive as they quite often refer to any device used to transmit or record information including all computer application software. Examples include popular basics such as cellular phones, radio, video, and even paper. What we hear about most frequently today are innovative ICT applications such as wikis, blogs, virtual teaming and multi-user virtual environments (MUVEs). Wiki’s, blogs, Google Docs, MUVEs and other Web 2.0 applications all use ICTs to create environments that meet our changing social demands in all sectors. The distinction between ICTs and ICT applications is an important aspect of this chapter.

Demands upon human capital by manufacturing and industry have played a large role in the emergence and application of ICTs and are characteristic of high income economies. That said, there has been a precipitous downward shift in the demand for skills in manufacturing over the past century. For example, in 1800, 90 percent of the labor force consisted of farmers, while by 1900 this percentage declined to 38 percent; today less than 2 percent of the workforce participates in farming occupations. Along with a downward shift in demand for manufacturing, over the last half-century there has been an upward shift in the demand for skills required of the services industry. Today, services account for over 85 percent of U.S. GDP and 60 percent of GDP for all advanced countries. This trend has lead to replacing physical capital with human capital. Indeed, it is predicted that by 2010 the U.S. will need over twice the number of computer software engineers, data communications analysts and computer support specialists than it had in 2000. As reported in an OECD-PISA Report (2000) and other studies, these trends signal that the knowledge worker era has arrived and we are seeing more and more people seeking access to higher education (Schleicher & Stewart, 2008).

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