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

Dear Sally...

Attendees at my Changing Borders presentation were asked to write letters about their technology concerns. Persons who specifically handed in their letters to be answered have responses below.

A number of cards were left on the table. Due to the volume and redundancy of topics, I haven't responded to those but I do have them. If you don't see your answer here, please send me your code name (or repeat your question) and I'll add it to this list.

My categories are rough. You might find it easier to locate your letter by entering part of your code name in the browser Find option.

Major Topics


Questions about Specific Technologies

Teaching First



Dear Sally,

Technology is wonderful but so expensive. If our school can't help us, & our budget is too small, where can we get funding?

Techie Whata Be

Dear Techie Whata Be,

I'll check with your system office for resources unique to Minnesota, but here are a few ideas in the meantime:

Dear Sally,

I believe that one of the most significant issues in technology today is what I refer to as resource management. It is a combination of learning technology, investing in technology, keeping current in technology and all this while still teaching. It is using the appropriate technology at the right time in the right amount.

Who has the responsibility to do all the research necessary to evaluate and learn about technology and its uses?

The Balance Guy

Dear Balance Guy,

I can respond on several levels, from the individual to the organization. (Nicely thought through question by the way).

First the individual faculty level...I noted in an earlier presentation at the conference that the vast majority of the audience wished their students would take responsibility for their own learning...I submit that faculty may need to consider applying that standard to themselves....learning as much as they can manage. (It does get easier with time).

However, this is a big issue, isn't it? Bigger than any individual and I think that is part of what you are saying. Welcome to the new higher education world in which teamwork is an integral part of problem solving. Sharing some of these learning tasks certainly makes them easier (while changing our notion of the independent/self-contracting professor to one of a team player dependent on others).

Many schools use the Teaching and Learning with Technology Roundtable (TLTR) group to take on this burden. To learn more about this visit their webpage or check with your CTL or tech support people.

We (higher education) have long taken responsibility for researching any aspect of human existence, why stop with technology in instruction? There are already disciplines which have been doing such research for decades on a wide variety of technologies. It will take time to uncover enduring principles with the newest ones because student expertise and teacher expertise are still at a beginning level.

With time, standards are developing for appropriateness and I expect general agreement on appropriateness to emerge with time and research. Peer review and external review will encourage this.



Dear Sally,

I am surrounded by computer geniuses! They know megabits, rams, systems, etc. I am hopelessly behind. How does one have time to prepare for classes, serve on committees, grade papers, attend meetings, have a personal life and keep up with technology--which changes so quickly.


Stuck in the 80's

Dear Stuck in the 80's,

Be comforted. Those "geniuses" have gaps in their knowledge, guaranteed. Technology and instruction (like most fields) is too big for one person to know it all. It isn't hopeless unless you want it to be.

Just between you and me, it is my observation, that there is a certain tradition of "face-saving" among some techies...they don't like to admit when they don't know something. I've observed a tendency to throw around terminology (which may or may not be thoroughly understood) in an effort to "win points." Tech support for common software may sound confident, but they are generally reading off a screen a "most common" solution. If this doesn't work, they are often stumped and may pass the blame onto the user. If you listen carefully, you'll hear this happen on occasion. When you find a techie who genuinely understands (as opposed to merely "knows"), treasure him or her.

Now, as for your real question which is how to meet all the demands in your life, the time management guru answer is to say "Prioritize." Easy to say.

Quite frankly, I doubt you can do it all without making sacrifices. Only you can decide which sacrifices you are willing to make. As I see it your choices are

  1. to keep doing what you are doing and skip the technology. Consequences are you get to do what you like but you will be perpetually dependent on others for technology. That might not be so bad as they keep simplifying it for the novice. You may not be able to rebuild your car, for example, but you are able to use it-- so long as you pay out to the mechanics. That cost might be worth it to you. You should also make a guess with regard to long term effect on your job and if you feel you can do without it.
  2. to try to cram more into the hours in the day. I do my tech a bit at a time...reading a chapter in a tech manual over breakfast (maybe every other day). I watch for natural opportunities to integrate it with other things I like. It takes longer to get up to speed, but you'll get there eventually. You have to be very good at setting limits on yourself and accepting that you won't study some things. One does reach a point at which you learn how to quickly and efficiently learn technology so you can pick it up more quickly and the change game doesn't seem so terrible to keep up with. That will take a few years under this plan. I'd say it took me about 4 years for me to notice the improvement.
  3. to drop one activity and shift your focus to acquiring technology. You'll have to make this judgement.
  4. Do some combination of the above. Add in a bit of technology, perhaps as play with your children and wait for greater emphasis until they are more independent, for example. Decide which part of which tech is most central to your life goals.


Specific Technologies

Dear Sally,

How to integrate PowerPoint so that I can effectively customize the presentation to my audience?


Dear ??

I'm not sure what you mean by customize, but I'll give it a try. If by customize, you mean alter the flow of which slides you show at what point, there are a number of tools hidden within Powerpoint. For more detailed instruction, talk with your CTL representative or tech support people.

To point you in a few directions, first identify typical routes you might take through your slides (e.g., at slide 20 you may jump to slide 40 sometimes or to slide 50). Under the slideshow option you can insert an Action button on slide 20 and then click on that button and hop to slide 40. You set that option while you are designing the show by doubleclicking on the button you inserted on the page.

If you want to make simpler moves through your slides, during the presentation click on the right mouse button and a menu will pop up...explore some of the options and you'll quickly see how to move around.

I hope that answers your question. If not, send me an email or contact your tech support.


Dear Sally,

I am learning how to use Powerpoint, surf the web, etc. I'm also learning how to think of technology as a tool, rather than an end to itself.

However, in order to use this in the classroom, I have to check out a laptop, LCD projector, get in the classroom as fast as I can, load up my Powerpoint, and hope it works--all in 10 minutes.

Thus I haven't done it much & I'm wondering if, by the time my campus gets equipment and I try again, I'll be beyond [?behind?]


Trying in MN

Dear Trying in MN

I hear you. I've had a few terms doing the same fast dance. My answer is to evaluate the tech use carefully against your specific goals and your specific students. Some terms I choose to not use because I feel those particular students need my full attention before and after class. I'm actually about 51-49 on using Powerpoint in a classroom and can be easily convinced to not use it by matters such as convenience. I gain some and lose some from it and some terms, some classes, some groups of students I tip against it.

If you want to stay current, Powerpoint isn't the only game in town. It is a good starter skill because it is easy to learn, teaches you some design skills, and gives you immediate rewards for your efforts. The Internet and webpages, however, will give you longer utility, I believe, for instruction.

If the face-to-face setup isn't working for the learning goals you have for the students, then try some out-of-class technologies to keep your skills warmed up and current. Perhaps create/expand your webpage design skills...or how about digital photography...or add a level of sophistication to your search engine understanding. Just a few ideas. Check with your CTL people for others.

Good luck!


Dear Sally

How do I keep the technology working. One day it works, the next day it doesn't work. Where's the reliability factor? Can't demo what won't work!!!


Dear Rosie

Let me suggest three things.

1. If reliability is so poor it interfers with achieving the learning goals, then maybe it isn't yet time to use the equipment, at least on a regular basis. You have to weigh the value of the demo for learning, against the irritation it creates in your students and you. Do check back in a year or so as reliability rapidly improves with tech.

2. I'm assuming you tried your tech support people and was unable to get satisfaction (perhaps because you have no tech support). This now moves to the level of an organizational problem and you have to use organizational interventions. This means it will take awhile to solve the problem. You have to bring it to the attention of those with the resources and power to shift priorities to technology. You have to apply steady, regular pressure that evokes desire to help you (rather than having them run away from you). You have to watch for the right moment to get your message into the mix. Prepare for it to take a few years to convince enough/the right people. Organizations don't turn on a dime.

3. Consider revising your expectations for extent of control in a class session. In other words, consider accepting unreliability as just another fact of life and prepare for it-- have backup activities. Perhaps build in quiet reflection time or a group activity for the students at the start of class so you don't feel so rushed when working with the equipment.

Do check that the newness of the equipment isn't a factor-- have you obtained adequate training and done adequate practice with the equipment? Can you rule out factors you have control over in terms of skill level?

Truly this is an adventure in learning, good luck.


Dear Sally,

How do you keep students at the other end of an ITV class (where no instructor is present) tuned in the class?

What is the future of desktop interactive video?

Signed ??

Dear ??,

W/re the ITV class, I'm going to recommend you seek a teaching consultation. There are many possible causes for student inattention and an on-site evaluation is going to provide you with customized advice.

Just for example, from my experience of teaching via ITV I know how critical it is to establish class ground rules (ideally with input from students) from day one, minute one. I know I have to enforce them over a longer period of time (as compared to a face-to-face) until they "stick."

Perhaps you are not referring to misbehavior of students but rather to how to keep a "talking head" presentation interesting. The easy answer is "offer variety. Try to do something different every 20 minutes-- stop for students to review notes, have an inclass assignment, do a demonstration, use a few minutes of a thought provoking Powerpoint demo. Yes, it takes a bit more work but you'll find you are enjoying the class more as well as the students. You don't have to do it all at once...add one feature each term you teach the class.

Again, seek out a consultation because there are other possible factors unique to your circumstance.

What is the future of desktop interactive video? By this do you mean transmitting a real time video signal from computer to computer so that student and teacher can interact as they would face-to-face? I believe the techies are working to make it reasonable in terms of bandwidth and quality.

I'm not particularly enamored of it (with exceptions for creating demos). One of the reasons to teach on-line is to break the barriers that time creates for our students. If you are expecting synchronous meetings, then you are defeating the purpose of on-line instruction.

At this point in time, it would also expect students to have a higher level machine (for reasonable quality of video). I generally assume that student machines are a few years old and keep technological requirements in line with that.

Used thoughtfully, however, interactive video may be appropriate for certain goals. Perhaps you have students who need more one-to-one meetings and have the equipment. Or maybe learning objectives require synchronous experiences (as in training a psychotherapist in face-to-face therapy, although I'd prefer to have them in the flesh for that if I had the choice).


Dear Sally:

The most important issue is developing courses for Distance Education and moving from a traditional classroom to a cyberspace classroom.


Ready to change

Dear Ready to change,

Sounds like you are ready emotionally and intellectually to add a new set of skills to your repertoire. Remember it isn't that you are replacing one with the other but that you are expanding your options and student options to include both face-to-face and on-line courses. You can still find many earlier technologies in use (e.g., steam engines and horseshoes).

An aside about the word "traditional": A colleague was telling me about a male student who found that an on-line course was perfect for him (once he got past a few tech problems). He was a new father and he volunteered to take the late night feedings. He would work on his course while bonding with his child. This also earned him many brownie points with his wife.

Notice that for this baby, the "traditional" classroom--the first classroom to which the child was exposed-- is an on-line classroom. It only takes one generation to change the meaning of that word "traditional."


Teaching First

Dear Sally,

The most important issue for instruction and technology today is a continuing trend of trying to cover more material (content/facts) in the same or less time. Technology seems for some to imply "PACK IT IN."

I still think less is often more, tools learned and practiced on SOME SELECTED content trains us to use these (well?) in our life long learning.

More is just LESS.

A 19th Century Scholar

Dear 19th Century Scholar,

I agree -- the Active Learning people remind us to "Cover less, uncover more." This term originates with the face-to-face classroom but can apply to any learning situation.

In an age in which information overload results in stress and can cost significant time and financial resources, I feel it is more important to be thoughtful than to be thorough. (Both is ideal, but one doesn't always have that option).

One can easily end up distracted by detail and lose the main issues/purpose of an activity. And that can happen without technology too. Humans are human whatever medium they work within.

This overemphasis, though, is natural for humans as learners. It is just a stage, like people who quit smoking try to convert everyone and babies put everything in their mouth to learn about it. As we are learning something new we tend to apply it to everything. This is our (humans) way of learning when the skill is appropriate and when it is not. It's a part of being creative. It would be nice if we could anticipate and avoid inappropriate generalization, but most of us aren't equipped to do that.

By way of example, think of how magnetism was treated in the 19th century-- it was going to solve all ills. Or x-rays. (see photo below). We think that is funny today. Someday our descendants will look back at we pioneers and think we were silly in some ways... but they'll admire some of our applications. All we have to do is figure out which will endure.


Sign for X-raying car oil, from early 1900's

(This is a small portion of a car care advertisement from the early 1900s. I believe it is out of copyright but if I'm wrong, just notify me and I'll remove it.)

Dear Sally,

How do you replace the socialization skills, ethical development and citizenship which traditional academia promotes through direct education?



P.S. If technology were a thing it would be a shibboleth because it is worshipped too much.

Dear Innuendo,

Ah, a particularly tasty issue to sink my teeth into. Thanks.

Traditional academia promoted socialization, ethical development and citizenship through something called the Grand Tour-- a 3 month or more period of wandering about the "continent", getting into and out of trouble, experiencing the great art of Western Civilization and generally maturing through direct experience with the world. Perhaps we ought to return to that instead of the isolated, insulated campus experience with exposure to a fairly narrow group of people as compared to the population of the world.

Go back to Socrates time and see what happened to him for corrupting the morals of youth-- apparently traditional education at that time involved not educating them.

The content of the word "traditional" changes too much to be a trustworthy guide.

I'm not going to avoid your real question, however, which I think is, the part about citizenship and socialization. In fact, I welcome this issue because I feel, too, that it is something we must protect about higher education.

You've defined several learning goals which you feel are a critical part of education of our youth. (I agree, by the way, having a liberal arts education myself. But I know other educators who have different visions of education, each with pros and cons of its own. Read Boyer's book (on the resource list I distributed) for a nice history of higher education w/re changing goals).

Back to goals you feel are important (socialization, ethics, citizenship).

1. While we customarily teach our 18-22 year olds these qualities in a campus setting (or at least say we teach them) moral development has not always been part of higher education. It has been accomplished by the Grand Tour (mentioned previously). The Service Learning movement is another method of inculcating our youth. There are advantages to learning these skills in the environment in which they'd be applied.

2. What is your evidence that we actually do teach these skills in our current setting? Or rather, what is your evidence that our youth actually learned them? It is tempting to assume that the way we have done things in the past is the best way of doing them...but these ways may only be the way we know. We may be missing better methods by following blindly.

Aside: Having to consider the outcomes of a totally on-line education leads us to question our assumptions about what we are currently accomplishing face-to-face. We also tend to apply a higher standard to the new than we apply to the old. We ask for proofs about on-line education when we have never asked for proofs of face-to-face activities. I've learned a tremendous amount by taking questions such as this...and asking them about face-to-face.

3. If you believe that our culture will become an increasingly on-line one, then are these not important skills to learn in the on-line context? Do we not want persons socialized to behave appropriately on-line, to behave ethically with technology, to be good on-line citizens?

(Speaking of which, life on-line changes our notions of citizenship, witness vote trading across state lines in the last election-- right? wrong? it makes us think carefully about a lot of issues and I'm all in favor of thinking.) I don't think it is an issue of "replacing" but expanding or recognizing in new formats our old familiar values.

4. It seems to me that the major concern then, is whether or not we risk losing some kind of hypothesized influence on the students' face-to-face skills.

It is incumbent on you, since this is your value (and on all others who value these) to clearly identify what the specific skills are, the environments in which they are needed and effectively trained, and the role for higher education in inculcating our youth with regard to these roles. The real change is now we (faculty) have to think about what we have been doing and preserve that which is truly effective.

Then you must engage in appropriate action to create policy, procedure and (most importantly) culture to achieve this desired state.

Easy for me to say,


P.S. With re worshipping technology, what are your criteria for "too much"? That seems to be an individual matter, at least if one values freedom of worship. If you truly mean worship, please define it more precisely for me. I'm wondering if what you are most strongly objecting to is uncritical use of technology? (I find uncritical use objectionable as well--one of the reasons I looked around for guidelines for thoughtful application and settled on the Scholarship of Teaching Model for now.)

Uncritical rejection of technology is problematic as well...that is to say, not what you are doing but what I see some do who fail to educate or experiment fairly before proclaiming a tool useless.

I find it helpful to substitute the word "telephone" into statements in place of "computer" or "technology to give me some perspective. For example, "telephones are worshipped too much." I find it easier to be objective then and recognize that, some people probably spend too much time on the phone, using it as a way to avoid real contact, but for others (persons who are housebound) they may be essential for sharing important moments in relationships. Telephones are dangerous to speak on when driving. They can also summon 911 in an emergency let me figure out which uses are helpful or at least neutral and which ones are dangerous.

By analogy, some persons may obsess over computers and other new technologies. Some find connection to others "like me" and the opportunity to engage in activities not otherwise available (persons with disabilities). New technologies may encourage identity theft....but they give you access to information about obscure diseases and other resources not available before.

Dear Sally,

Ignoring the extremely serious issues of privacy raised by technology in general (this including higher education), what do you think about how we can use technology for effective, significant and complex issue related discussion and investigation?

(One of difficulties I have had is that discussions tend (w/some exceptions) to be better with simple, quick issues/ideas than with complex ideas/issues).



Dear Hesitant,

Discussions with technology are generally accomplished by

  1. synchronous Interactive television sessions (ITV)
  2. a synchronous chat room
  3. a semisynchronous email mailing list (synchronicity depends on how frequently participants check their mail.)
  4. an asynchronous discussion board

In my experience (and my students may be different from yours) ITV discussion is similar to face-to-face discussion with the exception that the instructor has to a) be more deliberate in setting up/conveying expectations for participation by off-site students and b) wait for off-site students to respond (get used to the delay from transmission.)

Synchronous chat room discussions can quickly devolve into chaos and are best suited to small groups of 4-5, maybe 6 or a few more if you keep tight control on turn taking. They are more spontaneous but you have to practice to learn to track several conversations simultaneously. My students have liked them for relationship building and getting specific questions answered. I know some faculty who favor them but they don't suit my style. You should try them out-- but try first in a hobby chat room (e.g., gardening) to learn the etiquette in a safe setting for you, then give it several tries in a course setting. There is a learning curve to managing them. I have had some experiences that I felt covered topics in reasonable depth.

An email mailing list can retain the spontaneity of chat and allow students to think more deeply about their responses if you have a group who enjoy email. Sometimes that happens, sometimes they are shy about responding to everyone. It stretches out the conversation over a few days. In my experience topics last 2-3 days, rarely longer. If your students don't check their email daily, a topic can fall flat. I find good results for professional mailing lists, less so for student lists but, again, that might be my style and my students.

My favored form of on-line discussion is the discussion board where a comment or topic can be posted and students can respond to the topic and to each other over the course of a week or two weeks. In my experience you need about 15 students to sustain a good conversation with discussion back and forth. You also need to assign points for regular, quality conversation.

And there is an art to the size/presentation of the topic, as you point out. Because the pacing/timing is different than in a face-to-face class it does take some experimenting to find the combination that works for you. Complexity of topic depends on your subject, your students and the time you allocate for the topic. It is usually good to start with a low threat topic, such as introducing self or the metaphor exercise we did in the session.

In all of these there is a difference whether it is used as a supplement to a face-to-face class (harder to get discussion going on-line) or as the primary vehicle for an on-line course (easier to sustain).

Speaking of privacy, it is possible to set up anonymous chat and discussion. Accountability then must be considered.

Work with your instructional support people to discuss more deeply your options. I'm a big believer in faculty experimenting with these various tools within the context of a personal hobby. It is a safe environment and fun too in which to experiment and take risks..


Dear Sally,

I believe that one of the major problems with technology in education, particularly with the Internet, is the intellectual laziness and the cheating that it engenders. What do you think?

Extremely Frustrated

Dear Extremely Frustrated,

How did you deal with intellectual laziness and cheating before technology? Humans don't change just because they are on-line. We're just more experienced in dealing with it with print media. We had traditions and a lifetime of personal experience to draw on.

With technology we are novices, first and second graders in terms of years of experience. We'll get more sophisticated with time and better able to direct student motivation/monitor student cheating.

Actually, many of the same techniques used in the face-to-face only class can be used to combat behavior such as you mention.

The Internet adds a few tools to your armory. An English professor of my acquaintance finds it delightfully easy to check for plagiarism-- he just has to insert a few key phrases in common search engines, as compared to trotting over to the library. Is that intellectual laziness or taking advantage of a convenient tool?

I have a feeling I may be missing your real concern. Think deeply about what it is you want from the student and start from scratch to think how you can achieve that in this day and age in a manner relevant to your particular students-- so they really understand the importance of what you are asking. Talk with an instructional specialist as well. You may be missing something by being too close to the situation.

Not everyone is built for a life of intellectual contemplation. We need those more interested in physical pursuits, the quiet contentment of raising a family, in valorous deed, in artistic expression. If you have such a person before you, what is it that they need to function effectively? How can you connect that skill to something they value?

This is a tough one. I wish you luck with a more in depth analysis by a local guide,


Dear Sally,

How do you think we will come to a time when technology is not discussed as an add-on to instruction?


Dear Rhetorica,

I can see several possible paths

1. Perhaps there will be a physical catastrophe that prevents use of computer technology (?nuclear war) and technology would no longer be possible.

2. We reach a state where higher education instructors must earn a certificate as an educator and are properly trained before teaching. Of course those earning certificates will pass through a time when they seek "cookbooks" and mechanically apply the skills they have acquired--treating some as "add-ons". At some point in their development they will start integrating and using skilled judgement in designing instructional experiences. This is just the nature of learning. You have to get the building blocks before you get the integrative concepts.

3. We get far enough away from this beginning decade of technology (not even done with a decade yet) to get perspective and thus thoughtfully choose our technology. I usually ask myself, "What will be important about this tool, when the technology is as common as the telephone?" We don't fuss over the chalkboard as an add-on to instruction (although there is more to be learned about using it than most realize).

4. Perhaps most critical or the clearest demarcation of that time you dream of, is when the use of technology is seemlessly integrated into our evaluation systems (for us as faculty) and our student management issues--in short, when the bureaucracy has adapted itself. The only way to know that time is to realize you have stopped thinking about this question and have moved on to other issues.


Dear Sally,

Seeking the real world via the virtual world.

The challenge of technology is to make an impersonal medium meet the varied personal needs of humanity. Can technology be like a walk in the woods where we close the gap between ourselves and the world around us?

real world outside education
traditional classroom
cyber classroom



Dear Pathfinder,

Can literature be like a walk in the woods where we close the gap between ourselves and the world around us?

That which makes any medium personal, is the amount of person we infuse into it, the amount of self we share, the amount of personality and style and individuality we inject. The amount of humanity and universal truths that we capture within it.

The answer to your question lies in you-- how personal will you make your use of technology?

I don't mean to sound "zen." Let me be more...personal.

Think of my breaktime "show" with quotes and my photos of our expedition. I shared my personal hobby of photography and personal favorites in quotes (that were pertinent to the topic). I told a few appropriate anecdotes. You can do the same thing with any technology-- or you can fail to do it.

Will you build walls or break them down with your tools?

blending of face-to-face, cyber and "real" world




Let me deal with these next three in one reply:

Dear Sally,

How can we encourage administrators to invest in non-computer technologies, such as microscopes, that also need upkeep, while they're pursuing the "latest thing"?

Jubilation T. Cornpone

Dear Sally,

How does a faculty member best move forward in technology without a local administrative champion to evoke the change necessary to make technology happen (adequate funding, training, infrastructure, software updates, etc.)

Tech Tyrant

Dear Sally,

I am an instructor at a Technical College in Minnesota. We are having problems with getting support for our ideas that we want to implement in our classroom. How do we get the support from the administration for our ideas (time to develop, financial)?

Technically frustrated

Dear Jubilation, Tech Tyrant, and Technically frustrated,

Whatever your need (non computer tech, software, computer, or books etc.) start by being clear in the purpose or function of that tool for student learning--write it out in detail. These are the themes and arguments you'll be using to make your case over and over. If you aren't clear, you cannot convince.

1. Your goal then needs to be aligned with things valued by those with the power to fulfill your wishes. I assume student learning is valued by you and is your primary motivator. You shouldn't, however, assume that those with the power in your system value student learning. They may value jobs for students, or having them out of the house but not competing for jobs with more senior citizens, or personally having an easy job until retirement. Don't be cynical, however...find out what their genuine motivations are (you'll be surprised how idealistic many in authority are) and/or reawaken their idealism-- when they felt like you do now.

Gather data on the displayed values (as opposed to expressed) of your target administrators. Answer these questions:

Again, don't be cynical. It won't help you.

Let me emphasize this again. You need to understand and empathize with the administrative perspective. The attitude "They simply ought to help." is not necessarily helpful to your case. Every other faculty member with a project takes that attitude-- you'll simply blend in. If you genuinely (not cynically) understand the needs and objectives of the administrators in question, then you'll be in better shape to demonstrate the overlap between your needs and theirs.

Nurture several administrators and faculty. It is not easy to foretell which connection may pay off down the road.

2. You can also consider grantsmanship or soliciting donations. Discuss grant writing workshops with your resource people.

The same principle applies to getting grants or donations. Understand your funding source. You are not entitled to the money. It is your burden to argue convincingly for it. And those who help themselves attract favorable attention from administrators. Even if your grant isn't funded, they know you aren't sitting there like a lump waiting to be rescued. You are one of the "good" students who works for their grade rather than saying the teacher "gave it" to them.

Understand also that when you are involved in organizational change the accomplishments typically seem smaller than you desire and at a slower pace. If it is any consolation, this occurs because you are competing in a bigger pond-- so a supposedly "small" gain is actually a "big" one. Only you can decide if the outcome is worth your effort. People who do well at this regard it as a game.

3. Think creatively. How else might you accomplish the same thing? You've defined your solution as needing x equipment. Define your goal functionally (as accomplishing x type of learning) and you may see other possibilities.

4. Consider possibilities for collaboration. Perhaps if resources are shared, then more people can profit. Remember to consider your approach to the other person as similar to courting a lifemate. What do you have to offer them?

5. Sometimes you will find yourself in a situation where change is unlikely. The administrators in question seem set for life. The legislature clearly isn't going to provide support anytime soon. Technology grants aren't getting funded. You'll have to decide how important this is to your happiness. It may be that you should consider relocating or redirecting your energies.

6. Learn more about organizational change. Read books such as Hedrick Smith's The Power Game or other works on social change. Find out what expectations are realistic.

7. Don't forget to investigate your faculty development unit and your instructional technology people. They may know of funding resources.

Try not to let such a setback embitter you. History is replete with individuals who returned to triumph when the timing is right. Think of this period as a time of lying fallow; a time to develop foundation on which to build later.


Dear Sally,

How to break down policy/political barriers--e.g., issues of student credit and full time equivalencies, the infrastructure outside the classroom?


Dear ??

I'm guessing a bit here, but I believe you are talking about adapting the bureaucracy to on-line courses. Faculty can only encourage those who are in charge of that group to examine new options. Perhaps in your unionized setting there are options for negotiation with which I am unaware.

If the staff attend national conferences they will likely be hearing of new ways of doing things. They might find it is difficult to unilaterally create changes since the staff units are very interwoven. This situation requires top down support in my experience.

You can apply gentle pressure by going ahead and offering on-line classes...and then letting the staff solve the problems that creates. (But that isn't the most desirable way to achieve change. Actually, this will happen anyway because no one is going to anticipate all the possible problems.)

These are really complex systems. It takes a lot of patience to retool a university. You will encounter illogical rules during this transition period. Establishing a faculty-staff mailing list specifically to discuss issues may help to head off, or at least correct problems as they occur and to spread understanding for why some problems are occuring. It can also apply pressure on persons having difficulty with the transition.


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


Contact the author with comments or questions about this site by following the directions at this page (which will open in a new window.)

All contents © since 1996 by Sally Kuhlenschmidt. Copy only with permission.

Website created: June 1996. Page Created: August 4, 2001. Last Modified: August 18, 2001.