LIBERAL ARTS COLLEGES PROGRAM

Teaching and Technology: 1993-1997
Alice F. Emerson and Elizabeth A. Duffy

Over the last five years, the Foundation's liberal arts colleges program has focused on helping a select group of institutions1 incorporate the use of technology and electronic scholarly materials into teaching and learning. In 1993, when this initiative was inaugurated, many colleges were trying to deal with intensified competition for students, changing financial aid practices, public pressure to reduce tuition, and escalating costs, especially in areas such as library materials and electronic technology. Given these circumstances, the Foundation encouraged colleges to consider ways in which they might improve teaching in cost-effective ways through the use of technology and collaboration.

From 1993 to 1998, the Foundation made 69 grants to liberal arts colleges, totaling $35 million, through its teaching and technology initiative. Of these grants, 41 supported general teaching projects; 19 were for foreign language teaching projects; and nine went to other projects. Two-thirds of the grants (totaling $11.6 million) went to individual colleges, and one-third (totaling $18.7 million) were awarded to collaborative ventures involving 53 institutions.

During the period of this initiative, attitudes about the role technology should play in liberal arts colleges changed as did the ways in which students and faculty members used electronic materials. Early responses to the program revealed enormous disparities among liberal arts colleges in their readiness to use technology in teaching (especially outside of the sciences). Faculty members at a small number of colleges were well advanced both in developing electronic teaching materials and in experimenting with alternative methods of teaching, often involving electronic communication with and among students. Their activities were supported by well equipped electronic classrooms, good technical support, and campus electronic communication networks (the World Wide Web was not yet in common use). At many other colleges, the use of electronic resources in teaching was minimal, the necessary facilities and support were absent, and programs for training faculty members in the use of electronic materials were not in place. Moreover, many faculty members and academic deans were skeptical about the value of technology, especially in view of its high costs, and were reluctant to encourage younger faculty members to engage in computer-based projects. Some deans even dismissed pedagogy as unimportant, characterizing as inferior any teaching which was not face-to-face. As a consequence, many liberal arts colleges were not well positioned to make proposals which would advance their academic technological capabilities or allow them to collaborate with others to the same end.

Today, virtually all of the liberal arts colleges the Foundation supports are fully networked, and the World Wide Web has become an essential form of access to a wide range of source materials and a much used vehicle for colleges, faculty members, and individuals to share information. There is now widespread recognition that new approaches to pedagogy are essential. For most colleges, the issue is no longer whether to embrace technology, but rather how to reorganize curricular materials and approaches to teaching and learning in and out of formal classrooms, how to ensure that faculty members and students get the training and support they need to use electronic resources effectively, how to provide appropriate access to information, how to finance continuously expanding equipment needs, and how to plan for the future.

Lessons Learned

Based on our work with colleges during the grant development process, site visits, conversations with faculty members and administrators, and written reports from grant recipients, we have learned a number of lessons about how (and how willingly) liberal arts colleges have incorporated electronic technology into their academic activities. An inventory of these lessons may be helpful to others as colleges nationwide continue to explore possibilities for expanding the uses of technology in teaching and learning and as they seek to contain the costs associated with these activities. We have organized our comments under three general headings: 1) necessities (equipment, technical support, and faculty development), 2) transforming teaching and learning, and 3) collaboration.

    Necessities: Equipment, Technical Support, and Faculty Development.

Equipment. When we began the teaching and technology initiative, many colleges were acquiring equipment on an as-needed basis. Though many had committed to a single platform, few had institutional policies about who should have access to which kinds of equipment for what purposes, how often equipment should be replaced, or how ongoing technology needs should be financed. Even colleges that understood the need for continuous replacement and upgrading often found their planning processes so slow and cumbersome that decisions about purchases became obsolete before they were implemented. This was especially the case for language lab equipment which moved from audio to video to computers in less than two years.

With the acceptance of computers as essential tools for academic (and administrative) work, liberal arts colleges began to establish campus networks and Internet connections and to make computers accessible. to everyone on campus. Some of the projects the Foundation funded called for state-of-the-art equipment to make possible real-time, interactive teaching from one institution to others. These efforts brought with them serious technical problems (as well as support and maintenance difficulties), with the result that none proceeded as planned. One college, for example, which had hoped to offer a low enrollment language simultaneously to its own students and to students at a neighboring college found that the Internet -was unable to deliver the sound and picture in synchrony, making it impossible to demonstrate the correct speaking of the language. A lesson to be drawn here is to avoid dependence on equipment which is too far out front, no matter what the sales representative says. Let larger, better-funded institutions go first. Pioneering with equipment is neither cost-effective nor respectful of teaching needs. Colleges seem to do best when they strive to be "leading followers"- that is, to have equipment which enables students and faculty to work with very modern, but not state-of-the art equipment.

Technical Support, Regardless of what kind of equipment is being used, adequate technical support is essential. Colleges, we found, consistently underestimated the amount and cost of needed technical support even more than the cost of equipment. A decade ago, computing support was provided to the entire campus by a central technical support staff. Scientists, who were the main users of electronic resources, usually maintained their own equipment and provided their own technical support. When library materials started to be available in electronic form, librarians became an important source of instruction for faculty members and other users.

The rapid spread of computer use by faculty members and students and the advent of e-mail led colleges to reconfigure technical support services and to add technical experts to handle networks and programming, general resource support staff to help people learn basic computing operations, and instructional specialists to support faculty curricular initiatives. Today, instructional specialists with disciplinary training are in short supply and very costly. More and more institutions are training faculty members, students, and librarians to provide support for various academic initiatives. Nevertheless, our experience would suggest that for some time to come colleges will have to devote increasing resources to technical support for users of electronic resources.

Faculty Development Most colleges found it necessary to offer special training to enable individual faculty members to learn basic computer skills as well as how to access electronic library resources and use the Internet. As the possibilities for creating teaching materials became clear-particularly materials involving interactive exercises which enable students to learn more on their own and at their own pace-colleges were forced to expand their resources for faculty development. Most of the requests the Foundation received noted the differences among faculty members in both technical proficiency and interest and, accordingly, asked for several kinds of support. Although there were usually at least three types of faculty members on most campuses-early adopters and innovators, willing (but less technically adept) followers, and skeptical resisters -- very often, faculty development projects allocated disproportionate resources to those who were most proficient because they had ideas and projects they wished to undertake. The technically less adept faculty members were most often given instruction in basic electronic tools through workshops taught by a combination of technical support staff and highly proficient faculty members. Increasing the, capabilities of the middle group of faculty members-those who were interested in incorporating electronic materials into their courses, but who did not have the skills to create them-was the most difficult kind of faculty development.

While some colleges offered support on an "as-needed" basis to any faculty member with an idea, others formed teams of faculty members, technical support staff, and librarians to redesign selected courses, and still others focused on Web page development, often involving students as technical assistants. Collaborative workshops involving faculty members in the same field from several institutions were some of the most successful, lasting, and most cost-effective faculty development efforts. Despite significant advances in this area, we believe that even now too few institutions have a vision of where they would like to be in five or ten years which informs their planning and priority setting for curriculum development and the use of electronic resources.

Transforming Teaching and Learning

In evaluating proposals, we were most interested in how the proposed programs would affect teaching and learning. Too often supporters of technology speak about electronic technology as if it is a panacea that is going to fix all that is wrong with teaching. Detractors, on the other hand, worry that the introduction of electronic materials will erode the close faculty-student interaction so prized in liberal arts colleges or even eliminate the need for some faculty positions. What we learned is that there are many concrete ways that technology can be effectively integrated into courses, but that the success and impact of these interventions depend most on the imagination and energy of faculty members and on their willingness to think anew about how students learn and what the role of faculty members should be. Below, we have grouped the many types of interventions we supported into five broad categories, according to their impact on instruction.

More Efficient Teaching. The first and simplest innovations were those that made it easier for faculty members to manage their courses. At the most basic level, this involved putting course syllabi online. Unlike paper syllabi, which are often outdated almost as soon as they are printed, electronic syllabi can be easily updated and edited throughout the semester. Many faculty members also put their class notes online. This practice seemed to be particularly helpful in classes with complicated or technical material. Faculty members reported that when they posted lecture notes before class, students focused more on what was being said and less on scribbling everything down.

Online reading guides and quizzes were also useful. A physics professor at one college, for example, used electronic multiple-choice tests to evaluate students' comprehension of the readings before class meetings. The tests forced students to do the reading before class and enabled the professor to focus his lectures on those areas that students found most confusing. The tests also took advantage of the computer's abilities to analyze the students' responses quickly and to provide the professor almost instant feedback.

Online class discussions were another Web application that faculty members used to make teaching more efficient. Professors set up online groups to allow class discussions to spill over the allotted class time and to engage a fuller range of students. A study at one of the colleges showed that 75 percent of faculty-student interactions in class were with only four or five students. Requiring students to contribute to an online discussion group ensured that every student's ideas -were heard. Faculty members reported that students' written comments were often more thoughtful and thorough than their comments in class and that the anonymity of the computer exchange led participants to respond to the quality of the ideas being presented, not the rhetorical skills or other characteristics of the speakers.

Real-Life Problems. Faculty members also developed projects that allowed students to work on real-life problems rather than on theoretical ones. At one college, for example, students in the environmental. science department used a Geographic Information System program to conduct a water and vegetation audit of the campus. With help both from faculty members and building services staff, students developed a multi-layered map of the campus which included information on everything from trees to plantings, from water run-off to maintenance and watering costs. The students then used their map to recommend environmentally positive changes. One proposal-to replace the grass in the main quad with native vegetation-met with strong resistance. The students were not dissuaded; they simply added a political layer to their map of forces affecting the environment.

A professor of political science at another college drew on real-time Web materials in a class on politics and the press. Students were asked to compare actual Congressional hearings with press accounts of them. Such comparisons provided students with powerful instruction in perspective, selectivity, and bias in the press.

The Web also proved useful to professors who assigned students final online projects rather than traditional papers. Knowing that their work would be posted on the Web for anyone to see and comment on, students were far less likely to wait until the last minute to produce their final papers. The results were significantly better; indeed, many professors were amazed by the quality of students' final online projects.

Many other uses of the Web or other computer applications allowed students to work with real, rather than canned data, and on real, rather than made-up, problems. In general, students seemed strongly motivated to work on projects that they perceived as having real consequences and relevance. In addition, working on real life problems helped students understand better the complexity and politics of problem-solving and decision making.

Asynchronous Learning. Electronic technology also permitted asynchronous learning-that is, it enabled students to learn at different times, places, and rates. The online class discussion groups were the simplest example of learning taking place at different times. As one faculty member commented, "Students and faculty have totally different schedules. They're asleep when I'm awake and vice-versa. My class listserv got the most hits between 1 am and 3 am, when I was fast asleep."

Faculty members experimented with teaching students simultaneously at more than one location. Typically, such teaching took place in small, advanced classes which attracted too few students on any one campus to justify offering a class. Although, as mentioned above, many of these experiments were initially delayed by technical or scheduling problems, when the classes were offered, students seemed to adjust easily to the equipment and to relish the opportunity to meet other advanced students in their discipline, either in person or virtually. During one of our site visits, a French faculty member spoke eloquently of the importance of the few majors in her department interacting with advanced students from elsewhere. It was her experience that some classes are stronger than others, and that it was especially important for students in a weak year to interact with and be challenged by strong students from another campus.

Some asynchronous learning projects were explicitly developed to deal with the differences in students' preparation. One college, for example, developed a self-paced Spanish track, featuring electronic materials and sessions with native speakers, to cope with the influx of students seeking to study basic Spanish after a new language requirement was introduced. This track served both beginners and students who had taken some Spanish in high school but not enough to meet the college requirement.

Doing Science/Doing Art History. Technology also has the capacity to allow students to "do a subject" rather than simply read about it. Perhaps the most pervasive use of this approach to technology that we found was in calculus, a subject that has been completely overhauled by the development of sophisticated graphing calculators and computer programs. Rather than solving hundreds of stand-alone derivatives and integrals, students today are typically required to use calculus concepts to solve problems. Students in. one introductory calculus class we visited, for example, were using an epidemic model to determine how long it would take the number of people infected by a disease to peak.

Scientists have also been quick to embrace technologies that enable students to investigate problems on their own rather than merely to follow exhaustive, cookbook-like instructions from lab manuals. To cite just one example: in traditional labs on plant morphology, students spent hours looking through an electron microscope painstakingly counting and measuring cells. Despite their best efforts, most students'- results were inconclusive. When the microscopic images were digitized and put on a computer, it was relatively easy to count the cells, measure their width and length, and analyze other cellular differences that may have accounted for the plants' morphological differences-the main point of the lab exercise.

Such applications of technology were not limited to math and science. Faculty members in one art history department we visited were initially reluctant to use digitized versions of slides. The First year they merely reproduced the slides available in the slide study room on the campus network. They quickly discovered that the current generation of students has a high degree of visual literacy and can readily make sophisticated associations among paintings when working with digitized materials that can be viewed in any order rather than with prints mounted on a wall in a prescribed order. The professors revised the course to exploit these newly discovered abilities. Three years later, the majority of the final exam required students to analyze paintings they had not studied, something that art historians do all the time, but that only the best beginning students had been able to do before the slides were available electronically.

Student/Faculty Interactions. The relationships between faculty members and students changed significantly in courses involving electronic technology. Traditionally, faculty members have been the holders and imparters of knowledge and students the receivers of that knowledge. The integration of technology into the curriculum challenged that paradigm in profound ways. It encouraged many faculty members to reconsider how they teach and from whom they learn. An accounting professor at one college described how he completely revamped his course when he moved it from a traditional classroom to a computer classroom. Rather than lecturing, he assigned problems in class, using real financial statements, to small groups of students and roamed the room coaching each group and periodically demonstrating a concept or solution on the front screen. This same professor found that collecting homework assignments over the network allowed him to diagnose much more quickly and effectively students' mistakes and difficulties. Other faculty members found themselves in the role of student as they learned to use new technologies. Increasingly, colleges are using students, many of whom now come to college with considerable technical skills, as coaches and tutors to faculty members.

The use of electronic materials has also increased students' learning from peers. In some writing classes, for example, students submitted their essays online not just to the teacher but also to each other. In other classes, online tutoring services were established to provide writing assistance. Faculty members reported that students learned as much from editing each other's papers as from writing their own and that this process of group writing and editing reflected much better the kind of writing that would be expected from their students in the workplace. These innovations, like many others just described, did not require the use of technology (students could have made multiple copies of their papers and distributed them in class or to their tutors) but the presence of even a modest computer network facilitated the process and motivated student participation.

We could give many other examples of how the creative use of technology has influenced teaching and learning. Ile overall lesson from the many projects the Foundation supported is that the power of electronic materials is not primarily in the technology but rather in its capacity to get faculty members to rethink how students learn best and how their own time and expertise can be used most productively. Good technology projects don't have to be high tech; in fact they usually are not. Stephen Ruth, the director of a project at George Mason University that the Foundation is also supporting, summed up the pedagogical impact of technology well in a paper he wrote about a very successful information science class he taught using "everything but the technological equivalent of the kitchen sink." Was technology the reason the students did so well? Only partly, he concludes. "If the learning process were Shakespeare's Hamlet, technology would not be the prince, or Ophelia, or the queen or the evil uncle. It would have a role like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, definitely a player but a bit player, not a star.2

Collaboration.

Concern about the rising costs confronting liberal arts colleges led the Foundation in 1989 to establish a program encouraging consolidation and financial efficiencies at these institutions. When the teaching and technology initiative began four years later, most institutions had done what they thought they could on their own to control spending. One of the few remaining opportunities for reducing costs lay in collaborating with other colleges to improve academic programs and reduce costs through economies of scale, joint activities, and sharing of resources. While most of the colleges with which we worked had participated in library consortia, relatively few were engaged in collaborative curricular efforts. We encouraged existing consortia and newly forming groups to submit collaborative proposals for cost-effective uses of technology in teaching. Ultimately, the Foundation supported projects undertaken by eight previously established consortia and nine new collaborations. While all of these projects are ongoing, several provide instructive examples of activities and outcomes, and, as a group, these endeavors offer a number of potential lessons.

Reasons for success or failure of institutional collaborations are complex. From our experience, it seems clear that neither the number of colleges participating in a consortium nor the length of time a consortium has been in existence is a critical variable. Indeed, among the most successful the Foundation supported were three new academic collaborations. Even geographic proximity is not essential in this electronic era. One consortium that extends from Virginia to Texas, for example, has developed and implemented an impressive series of library and faculty development projects over the last few years. We have also learned that a successful collaboration in one project is no guarantee of further success in consortial efforts by the same institutions. Much depends on leadership, trust, and participants who are intent on doing something worthwhile together. A project that is highly valued, which has strong leadership, senior administrative support, and appropriate resources, has a very high chance of achieving its objectives.

Even when conditions were favorable, unforeseen problems often arose during implementation of collaborative projects. A number of the language consortia, for example, suffered setbacks and delays because they could not hire appropriate directors or technical support staff to work at several institutions on joint projects. Selecting the right equipment and getting it installed were also stumbling blocks, made all the more difficult by different procurement policies and procedures at collaborating institutions.

Although almost all the collaborative projects the Foundation supported are still ongoing, a number of positive outcomes are already apparent. Foreign language faculty members from several institutions, working together and sharing their results, have created valuable teaching materials which are being used to good effect by students on multiple campuses. For many faculty members, collaboration has also provided much appreciated opportunities to expand their circle of colleagues, to discuss pedagogy, to create new teaching materials jointly, and, in some cases, to undertake collaborative research. Such opportunities have been especially valuable to teachers of Chinese and Japanese, many of whom are the only ones teaching these languages at their colleges.

Middlebury. The most far reaching collaboration supported by the Foundation is centered at Middlebury College. "Project 2001"--a five-year program intended to demonstrate that technology provides foreign language instructors with a means to become more effective teachers-has become a powerful focal point for developing new approaches to foreign language teaching and for expanding the impact of collaborative work in a national consortium.

In the fall of 1993, we received virtually identical requests from several colleges interested in utilizing technology to address problems related to the teaching of foreign language. At that time, foreign language departments were grappling with low and shifting enrollment patterns, increased interest in culture rather than literature, growing participation in study abroad programs,. demands for a wider range of foreign language offerings (especially less commonly taught Asian and African languages), the presence of many part-time and adjunct faculty members in foreign language departments, and little faculty interest in teaching elementary courses. Each college proposed to hire a technology expert to work with faculty members. We decided to explore possibilities for meeting this need on a collaborative basis and consulted with Dr. Clara Yu, then vice president for languages and director of the language schools at Middlebury. College. With Dr. Yu's encouragement, we invited deans and foreign language faculty members from several institutions to talk with each other and with Dr. Yu about ways of increasing faculty members' technological skills and improving foreign language teaching through collaboration. In the summer of 1994, a workshop was offered at Middlebury for faculty members from nine colleges. It aimed to introduce the fundamentals of technology through intensive hands-on instruction, to explore the uses of technology in language teaching, and to discuss pedagogical issues more generally. Participant response is well summed up by the following comment drawn from a faculty member's evaluation statement: "Technical training is the cornerstone, but what is even more valuable is the experience of working on a project in a team where we learned by talking out our ideas with fellow workshoppers."3

The summer workshop provided faculty members with much more realistic ideas about what they might accomplish using technology and enabled them to work with potential collaborators. Following the workshop, the participating colleges formed three consortia, each of which submitted a collaborative proposal. In addition, Middlebury established FlanNet (a closed foreign language network capable of supporting the transfer of materials and electronic conferencing in many languages) to provide an ongoing means of communication for faculty workshop participants and to enable them to continue their cooperative activities after returning to their home campuses.

Based on the success of the first Middlebury summer workshop, workshops were held in the two succeeding summers for faculty and technical staff members from an additional 33 colleges. Middlebury staff also provided other services, among them technical assistance, campus consultations, advanced faculty workshops, access to FlanNet, and ongoing support for workshop participants. A major outcome of the workshops has been the creation of 17 foreign language projects involving 33 colleges (9 collaborations and 8 individual college projects) for technology-enhanced instruction.

To take stock of what had been accomplished, in June 1997 a conference was convened at Middlebury to showcase the work of the project participants and to encourage further dialogue about issues of language pedagogy. Over 200 faculty members, technical staff, and administrators attended, representing 62 colleges. The range and sophistication of the work presented and the energy and excitement of the participants gave clear evidence of the power of this multi-layered collaborative project. As Dartmouth's director of humanities resources, Otmar Foelsche, an independent evaluator of the conference, said in his report, "It is difficult to describe the excitement accompanying these presentations. One can literally see and hear participants thinking about transfer of ideas and technologies; to their own work.' The conference is "a milestone in the history of language teaching."

Project 2001 was also launched at the conference. At the end of the project's five-year term, a self-sustaining network of faculty members and technical staff from over 60 leading liberal arts colleges should be in place, foreign language teaching should have been transformed at participating colleges, and many more students should be learning and using languages more effectively and engagingly.

Appalachian College Association. One more consortial effort merits special mention. Founded in 1990, the Appalachian College Association (ACA) is comprised of 33 private liberal arts colleges in Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia that enroll a total of approximately 32,000 students. The ACA administers fellowship programs to support faculty members completing PhDs, postgraduate research, and student-faculty research activities. The Foundation has made five grants to the ACA, totaling $8 million, since 1993.

Beginning in 1994, the ACA led an effort to encourage deans and faculty members to develop collaborative projects to use technology in teaching, information retrieval, and other academic activities. Because many of the ACA colleges are small and geographically remote, faculty members, especially in the humanities and social sciences, have had few opportunities to work with disciplinary colleagues. Through a series of introductory workshops offered to faculty members with limited computer skills and follow-up sessions matching participants with more technically experienced faculty in their fields, the ACA project was able both to increase the technical capacity of faculty members and to establish ongoing collegial relationships among them. The ACA also sponsored curriculum development projects by multi-institutional teams of faculty members, librarians, and technical staff, and expert advice was made available to clusters of colleges to help them plan for future hardware and software needs. In all, more than 400 faculty members took part in this initiative.

Technical assistance and training in the use of various electronic materials has also been made available to ACA colleges by graduate students under the direction of a faculty member at Virginia Intermont. These students travel from one campus to another to advise about technical issues and serve as teaching assistants at faculty workshops.

Though many member institutions have very limited funds, they have been able to strengthen their academic programs through the ACA collaboration and to gain access to resources, training, and technical assistance no single college could afford alone. In the process, multi-institutional relationships have been established among faculty and administrators which will likely lead to further cooperative ventures. These accomplishments are in significant measure due to the work of Dr. Alice Brown, who has provided strong leadership to the ACA since its founding.

What Lies Ahead?

There is much that is still uncertain or unfinished in the introduction of technology into teaching and learning at liberal arts colleges. Changes in pedagogy resulting from the availability of new kinds of electronic materials and different tools for using them are raising questions about the way faculty members and students interact and undertake their relative responsibilities in the academy. For example, how much can or should students be expected to learn on their own or with peers outside the formal structure of traditional classes and courses? Is interactive learning via a computer screen as effective as classroom learning? What kind of instruction should take place in classrooms? How should multimedia presentations be valued relative to more traditional writing and speaking?

Faculty development issues are even more perplexing. How much command of technology should faculty members be expected to have? Must they be capable of designing and creating complex electronic materials, or is it enough that they be competent users? Is touch-screen sufficient, or is it important to understand what goes on behind the screen? And, what about faculty evaluation and reward systems? * How will teaching effectiveness be evaluated in the age of electronic pedagogy;' What will be valued and how will it be judged when it is time to make tenure and promotion decisions?

Intellectual property issues will surely be central. just as we are struggling to define intellectual property, the very nature of that "property" is changing. Collaborative work which has been edited and amended via electronic interactions is becoming harder to attribute to its "authors" by traditional rules. New rules are needed, but as yet we have no consensus about standards.

So far, we have said little about costs. Initially, we hoped that by insisting that the use of technology in teaching not add to the per student cost of education we could drive home the need for careful financial planning and expense reallocation to accommodate the added costs of technology. While some colleges were able to control obvious project-related costs in this way, in almost every instance the overall cost to the institution of the electronic infrastructure, technical support staff, and equipment turnover grew steadily. Attributing the costs of technology to particular projects was especially difficult as many colleges were simultaneously putting in place their basic campus technology and service infrastructures. For most institutions, it is still early days in terms of realizing any financial payoffs from the use of technology. Once electronic infrastructures are fully installed and today's innovative practices become commonplace in libraries, in teaching and learning, and in the support and financing of the use of technology, economies may yet be realized and costs contained.

Several current projects funded by the Foundation provide examples of possible cost-effective uses of technology. At two colleges, courses were redesigned to include self-paced and student-to student learning which permitted increases in course sizes. At another college, core departmental offerings were identified which could be taught by more than one faculty member, making it possible for faculty leaves to occur without the need for temporary replacements. One college hopes to reduce scientific capital and maintenance costs by enabling students to work with simulated and remote basic science applications drawn from the area's business and health organizations. Collaborating colleges have achieved cost efficiencies by sharing the costs of faculty training, technical support, and teaching materials, and, in some cases, by teaching one another's students. In general, the most promising opportunities for Cost-effective use of technology were at institutions where there was an interest not only in using technology to enhance traditional teaching, but also a willingness to rethink the organization of teaching and to create new paradigms, especially in collaborative ventures.

Liberal arts colleges have a long and proud tradition of independence. Self-contained for the most part, no one quite like another, they do not come easily to collaboration. This is especially the case at the institutional level, where working with partners is often seen as adding unnecessary complexity, and learning from the experience of others is not viewed as the normal mode of operation. Except for a few special areas such as library consortia, the incentives for academic collaborations are few. Yet, if selective liberal arts colleges are to continue to offer the high quality education for which they are known and valued, they will have to reach out and connect in a multitude of ways with our ever-expanding world. Technology may prove to be their best ally.

 

Footnotes:

1. The Foundation works primarily with liberal arts colleges that enroll at least 1,000 M-time students, have mean combined freshman SAT scores in excess of 1100 after recentering, and award more than 7 5 percent of their degrees in traditional arts and science fields.

2. Ruth, Stephen, "Technology in the Classroom: Hamlet or Rosencrantz and Guildenstern?," George Mason University, 1996.

3. Interim report from Middlebury College, April 6, 1996.


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