Oct 31 2006

The Goal of IT is Making Learning Accessible to More Students

To ensure that learning is accessible to more people, IT teams must search for new ideas and solutions.

“Unless you are looking for something, you usually won't find it,” said the always astute and thought-provoking Yogi Berra. In learning institutions, particularly those focused on higher education, the ongoing search for answers in the past, in the now and in the future is essential to attracting talented students, faculty and staff.

IT teams can support that momentum by making learning accessible to more people – both in and out of the classroom. But to do that, IT teams need to be always on the prowl for new ideas and solutions, because unless they are looking, there's not much chance of finding what they need.

In the February -March edition of EdTech: Focus on Higher Education, we're showcasing what many of your peers have found in their search for ways to accelerate the forward momentum at their schools and improve the learning experience with technology tools.

EdTech gathered technology chiefs at five institutions – Bentley, Bowdoin, Hamilton and Franklin W. Olin colleges and the Medical University of South Carolina – to discuss the nature of change and the role of change agents. The discussion starts with retired professor John Kotter's proposition that most transformations fail because the architects view change as a one-time event, rather than a process. Often, the CIO becomes a change agent and the facilitator of a continuous search process.

Think about your last implementation project. Chances are that before it was finished, you needed to upgrade and customize it and deal with unexpected contingencies. Writer Will O'Brien brings that discussion to life on page 16.

No one knows better than the IT staffers at institutions how difficult it is to retrofit existing buildings with new technologies such as wireless. EdTech's Lisa Delgado explores how the Massachusetts Institute of Technology provided wireless connectivity right from the blueprint stage in the new learning spaces on its 168-acre campus. MIT's wireless story begins on page 42.

According to the infamous character Gordon Gekko from the movie Wall Street, “The most valuable commodity I know of is information.” Apparently, a number of business schools agree because they're making real-time market trading part of the educational experience. In “Trading Places ” on page 28, we share what these schools have learned in building real-time Wall Street trading rooms on campus.

EdTech is looking for more case studies that showcase successful technology programs at institutions such as yours. In our next issue, we'll spotlight the winners of CDW•G's IT Leadership Awards. We're looking for solutions to an IT Pop Quiz on security, a solid business case to secure funding for a new IT project and a program that shows how IT can support pedagogy. The deadline is March 1, 2006.

Lee Copeland, Editor in Chief