Conditions of Technology Progress in the Learning Environment

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ABSTRACT

This article presents an examination of the basic conditions of the learning environment that are necessary for effective technology-based teaching and learning. First, an overview of nationally utilized instruments purporting to measure a school's technology progress is provided. Next, four common dimensions in the measurement of technology progress (learning strategies, faculty proficiency, technology resources, and students) are presented and discussed. A discussion of how this information can be used as a foundation for those interested in developing their own gauges of technology progress in the learning environment is then provided.

INTRODUCTION

The information technologies of the New Economy have enhanced business productivity and have allowed new technology-based business strategies to revolutionize many industries. The implication for business education is that new technology-based teaching and learning strategies may have the same potential impact in education. Business Week's (January 10, 2000) prognosis for the education industry is a record flow of venture capital into for-profit E-learning companies. They suggest that education may be the next "killer application" for the Internet and that there will be a tremendous migration away from classroom learning to online learning.

The real question facing business educators is not if we should integrate technology into the curriculum, but how we can best integrate technology. Smart, Kelley, and Conant (1999) emphasize that business educators are uniquely qualified to recognize the changing needs of students and should lead in the transformation of curriculum. The challenge to educators is in creating a learning environment, which brings together the rigor of the academics, and the new technology-enriched, online communications, resulting in improved student performance. We must chart a course toward effective use of technology in the learning environment and track our journey with evidence, not just anecdotes.

The purpose of this article is to examine the basic conditions of the learning environment that are necessary for effective technology-based teaching and learning. A summary of the dimensions and indicators from nationally utilized instruments measuring technology progress is provided. Based on these indicators, four core dimensions of the learning environment are identified and discussed. Business departments wishing to track their progress of integrating technology into their curriculum can develop quantifiable measures based of these four core dimensions.

INSTRUMENTS TO MEASURE TECHNOLOGY PROGRESS

Tracking the impact technology has on teaching and learning is a challenging task. Without prior planning and embedding assessment within the technology implementation process, the validity of reported results will be suspect. Clear goals and measurable indicators for process and outcome objectives must be agreed upon to track and report results. An important first step is the assessment of the current status of the learning environment in order to understand and benchmark the present technology profile. Table 1 presents a list of organizations that have developed instruments intended to measure and document the impact of technology on education. These different technology progress gauges are self-evaluation surveys that typically classify the instructor and/or school along a continuum of technology progress.

Representative of the list of indicators in Table 1, is The Milken Exchange on Education Technology's seven-dimension framework that provides a set of indicators to consider when assessing whether or not schools have established the "essential conditions" necessary to improve student learning through technology. While this framework represents a synthesis of thinking of its authors who represent national, regional and state departments of education and associations, private educational companies, and universities, the model has only just begun to be researched and tested. …