Standardization, Hybridization, or Individualization: Marketing IT to a Diverse Clientele

Standardization, Hybridization, or Individualization: Marketing IT to a Diverse Clientele

Evan G. Mense, John H. Fulwiler, Michael D. Richardson, Kenneth E. Lane
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-074-7.ch019
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With student population on the rise globally, colleges and universities face daunting new challenges to accommodate the increased demand for services (Marginson, 2006). The historic threshold of 100 million students worldwide has been crossed and the prospect of reaching the figure of 125 million students will be attained before 2020 (NCES, 1993). Important increases in student numbers are reported in all regions, particularly in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Arab countries, and in Eastern and Central Europe (Altbach & Balan, 2007).
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American universities and colleges will spend more than $6 billion for information technology, of which roughly $1 billion will be for informational technology goods and services (Brown, 2006). Universities and colleges world-wide are utilizing instructional technology for the delivery of distant learning to meet the needs of students primarily for two reasons; increased student enrollment and increased demand for utilization of instructional technology (Schofer & Meyer, 2006).

Distance learning has evolved from the days when videotaped lectures were a standard in university and professional courses during the last two decades (Moore & Lockee, 1998). Today, the internet and compressed video have taken distance learning in new directions, allowing distance learning to occur in real time. Live video instruction is the most popular and fastest growing delivery mode in the United States (Allen & Seaman, 2006). In recent years, multimedia in conjunction with hypermedia has been successfully applied to many courses satisfying a wide variety of learning styles or modalities (Birch & Gardiner, 2005; Sankey & St Hill, 2005; Young, Klemz & Murphy, 2003). With such widespread availability, coupled with the dramatic advances in technology, there has been a steady increase in the number of online degree programs and online classes that are being offered at traditional universities (Muirhead, 2004).

Distance learning has evolved into three models or theories of delivery:

  • The standardization model occurs when content and instructional time are controlled by the instructor permitting student access with limited opportunity for dialogue,

  • The hybridization model is a blend of conventional face-to-face instruction and Web-based distance learning, allowing students limited self-learning via electives provided by guided instruction, and

  • The individualization model allows students the opportunities to control the content, instruction, and the time of learning (see Figure One). The phenomenon of learning at a distance is one of the more remarkable developments in the history of higher education (Anderson, 2008; Pau, 2003).


Instructional Technology

Throughout history a variety of instructional media has evolved ranging from common print, to instructional television, to current interactive technologies (Reiser, 2001; Teichler, 2003). The earliest form of distance learning took place through simple correspondence courses (Casey, 2008). These correspondence courses were utilized until they were replaced by instructional radio and television, which soon yielded to the current mode of technology, the computer (Bekele, 2008; Dede, 1996).

The increased use of technology at the college and university level is apparent, but the applied use of this technology into the educational setting is changing the entire concept of distant education (Gilbert, Morton & Rowley, 2007). “Increased popularity of the internet and its ability to provide seemingly transparent communications between different computing platforms has simplified the process of providing learning opportunities to remotely located learners” (Corich, Kinshuk & Hunt, 2004, p. 4).

As instructional technology forges new paths to facilitate distant learning, it is embedded with multiple pressures and opportunities (Salter, 2005; Soong, Chan, Chua & Loh, 2001). The transformation of higher education depends on the institutional acceptance to change, including the changing allocation of resources, professional interests and locations (Ostlund, 2008). Beaudoin (2003) discusses the importance for instructional leaders, “to be informed and enlightened enough to ask fundamental questions that could well influence their institution’s future viability” (p. 1).

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