this are discussed later in the chapter in the context of
technology standards.
The time demands of offering a course online are a sub-
stantial and legitimate concern of faculty. With classroom
instruction, the faculty commitment to direct interaction
with students is typically 150 minutes a week in class and
four or five hours a week of office hours. Electronic com-
munication makes the faculty member potentially on-call
24 hours a day, seven days a week. As a learning support
model there are many advantages. Students can have ques-
tions answered and issues clarified almost immediately, as
opposed to waiting for the next class or office hours. How-
ever, a faculty member has to learn how to provide that
learning benefit without total commitment of personal and
professional time and to set appropriate expectations
among students. One approach is to move the class dy-
namic from teacher-centered to a peer-to-peer model,
where students help each other learn under the mentorship
of the teacher.
Technical Staff
The ability of an institution to deal with many of the is-
sues just outlined ultimately will devolve to having the staff
who can conceptualize solutions, develop or buy appropri-
ate technologies, integrate various technology services,
maintain the overall technology environment, and train
Chapter 6 Where the Rubber Meets the Road
153
and support the user community in the effective use of the
available technology services.
In doing this, higher education institutions must
increasingly compete with commercial entities that have
adopted many of the technologies that have long been in
use in higher education. This is a result of the universal
adoption of the Internet and Internet standards. As a re-
sult, higher education institutions will have to be much
more creative in the recruitment and retention of staff
with critical skills. Although institutions are used to deal-
ing with the fact that Business professors command higher
salaries than English professors, this attitude often hasn’t
extended to staff. Higher education isn’t used to midyear
raises, signing bonuses, project milestone bonuses, re-
cruitment rewards, and all of the things available to staff
in the technology marketplace. Higher education has sold
itself as an interesting work environment with a high qual-
ity of life and long-term security. Some of those induce-
ments might still work, but only for certain staff. Higher
education institutions have to think much more strategi-
cally about technical staff, some of whom want more im-
mediate financial rewards, whereas others might still want
stability. Successful institutions will recognize that in this,
as in so many things having to do with technology, one
size does not fit all.
The Wired Tower
154

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