Introduction | Case I | Case II | Case III | Workshop Participant Summary| Issues in Using the Internet in Instruction

For My Students | Admin/Research | PSY | FaCET | WKU 

My Synopsis of Issues in the Case Study

on the Scholarly Use of Technology in Instruction

The following is not the only way to interpret these cases but these are some of the issues that I felt were important. To see comments from participants in a workshop, visit Workshop Participant Summary (groupsum.htm).

Part I. Clear Goals and Adequate Preparation

Charlie has no clear goal for his use of technology other than the political/financial one of increasing enrollments and appeasing senior faculty. Until Charlie states his goals and understands them, he will have trouble achieving anything or directing his behavior effectively and efficiently. Notice there is almost no mention of student needs or learning in this segment.

All too often the means (using technology) becomes the end instead of a method toward the true goal of student learning. There is nothing inherent in the use of any technology (paper, whiteboard, or 2 way video conferencing) that will improve learning.

Then what does improve learning? Being scholarly about your teaching. This means having clear goals toward student learning, developing skills that are needed for teaching (adequate preparation), selecting methods that are appropriate for the goals and population, having a way of measuring results, effectively presenting information and critical reflection which feeds back to adjusting goals, methods, etc.

It is challenging to keep the instructional goals uppermost, particularly as one subgoal is always "just learning the technology." Written reflection on your progress is a critical tool for staying on course.

The 3 illustrate differing degrees of preparation for teaching. Charlie has some idea that he needs to learn more about teaching and learning as well as about technology. Eldon is prepared in the arena of technology but seems to have very little understanding of the integration of technology with teaching or even of teaching methods.

Lucy has learned well the task of doing research but does not generalize the pursuit of knowledge to the field of teaching. For how she has defined the task of teaching (her goals), the whiteboard is a fine technology. Because she rejects technology without examining it, she is at risk of stumbling into technology pitfalls, such as copyright issues.

Part II. Appropriate Methods and Significant Results

Charlie is now working to improve his knowledge and has identified some popular approaches that have been shown to enhance student learning. He seems to have identified some objectives. Perhaps he has become overconfident in his knowledge of teaching, however. He has underestimated the skill and time it takes to use technology for instruction effectively. He pays the consequences later. The bottom line for effective technology use is planning and practice. Walking in cold is a recipe for problems.

Planning helps you to match your methods with your objectives so that you are more likely to obtain the desired results for the students. Planning also helps you use your time most efficiently. Because technology can be a time sink, failure to plan leads to tremendous loss of time.

Decide first on the learning to be done, then consider appropriate technologies.

Charlie could have avoided the syllabus debacle if he had done more advance study and planning. The syllabus has the status of a contract with the students. It is too easy to make alterations to an on-line document and end up confusing students. At a bare minimum, post a created and a revised date on each webpage. In my opinion, once the course begins, there should be no changes to the syllabus.

Lucy hasn't really thought about the bottom line in the classroom (that students learn). She is providing a projection of a pdf that is probably illegible because she doesn't know that different media require different formats. For a paper that will be read, a 10 point font size is fine, but if something is being projected a much larger size is needed. Lucy didn't have to make her students suffer. Information on effective use of media is widely available. Similarly Charlie failed to take advantage of the breadth of research and prior experience before he began. Methods cannot be as effective if they are not grounded with goals and preparation.

Eldon at least can clearly state one learning goal for his students (to prepare them for the future). But his implementation may be interfering with achieving results. His methods violate federal privacy law for student information. E-mail is the equivalent of a postcard. If he e-mails individual grades without student written permission, he is posting private information in a public place. He should follow the same rules as for posting grades in a hallway. Can a student give permission in an e-mail? Not at this time, although electronic signature systems are being developed.

Eldon has a habit of not thinking about his use of technology and just reacting. It's his fun, after all, not work. However, the new technologies are having and will continue to have a tremendous impact on privacy and on identity. Scholars have long relied on identity as a tool in evaluating sources of information. How much credence does one give an anonymous posting? Are there any circumstances in which you might have students adopt anonymity? Or is it anathema to scholarship?

What did you decide constitutes a significant result? Is it having students reflect on the material? Being able to convey personal research? Figuring out how to use a new technology? It depends, at least in part, on the original learning objectives for the students. Without explicit objectives, you will have trouble evaluating results.

Part III. Effective Presentation and Reflective Critique

This section has many issues that relate to what is traditionally considered scholarship: the creation, use and citation of information. It is common to encounter someone very careful about print media who engages in questionable electronic behavior. Norms for electronic behavior are in the process of being developed. In the meantime, a good rule of thumb is to ask, "How would I treat a print document in this circumstance?"

Charlie has made decisions that will put him in a better place to evaluate those issues because he is working to increase his knowledge through use of professional teaching journals, conferences and mailing lists. Nevertheless, he still has progress to make in generalizing his print scholarship skills to the on-line world. Notice that he forwarded a webpage with a copyright notice. Lucy did the same. While it is a common practice, I personally feel it is questionable since forwarding involves creating a duplicate and distributing it. Send a link instead

Lucy also altered the original and removed citation information (the dates in the header). The name of the original publication location (in this case a listserv) gives context in which to interpret information. Giving the author and contact information provides later viewers a chance to connect. Keeping dates intact places the product in time. Making alterations, even spelling, is taking a liberty with another's writing that is not consistent with scholarly behavior. All of these have happened to my work on-line. Even in my work that discusses not doing these things. That is, partly, the price of communicating with the world. You'll have to judge your own objectives in moving on-line.

By the way, Lucy is mistaken about copyright and educational uses. The law has changed dramatically in recent years, particularly with regard to multimedia. And fair use of educational materials pertains to the physical classroom. On-line media, such as webpages, introduce the complexity of duplication, alteration and distribution which changes the rules.

These rules also apply to images. In electronic activities it is fairly common to copy an image from the Web. Images, however, are as much intellectual property as is text (as are sound files and other kinds of multimedia). Copyright occurs the moment something is created. There are many websites that claim everything on the Internet is copyright free. That is false.

Glassick, Huber, and Maeroff (1997) clearly state that to be scholarly, reflection must occur by the individual and must eventually be public. Growth can only come from self-evaluation and from receiving feedback from others. Those who live in an isolated world, never making their experiences concrete for others to review, and will not build their knowledge as scholars. Eldon is trying, but he has not developed a solid foundation of understanding teaching. And so he keeps doing what he has always done (lecture, a 17th century pedagogy), only with the latest technology. It is unlikely that his results will be noticeably different without changing his teaching methods. He is likely to grow increasingly unhappy as he is using technology to erect barriers between himself and the students rather than using it to connect with students as Charlie does.

Scholarly teaching with technology requires that clear learning goals are set and that the teacher pursues adequate training in teaching and technology and the integration of the two. Methods that will fulfill the goals and reflect best practice should be selected. A means of recognizing when results are achieved (or not achieved) is needed. Planning, while necessary, is not enough. The implementation of the teaching methods and the use of technological media must be effective. Typically that requires practice, reflection and trying again. Always it requires feedback and use of that feedback to improve future efforts.


A number of the resources ( that have contributed to this analysis can be found at the website for my course on Issues in Using the Internet in Instruction ( In addition, the following links can provide an introduction to issues of copyright and student privacy.

Brinson, J. & Radcliffe, M. (1996). An Intellectual Property Law Primer for Multimedia and Web Developers. [On-line.] Available:

Eggleton, F. (2000). Brief Summary of FERPA: Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. [On-line.] Available:

Introduction | Case I | Case II | Case III | Workshop Participant Summary| Issues in Using the Internet in Instruction

For My Students | Admin/Research | PSY | FaCET | WKU 

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Website created: June 1996. Page Created: March 16, 2000. Last Modified: March 4, 2013.