Academic journal article Community College Review

Connecting Organizational Environments with the Instructional Technology Practices of Community College Faculty

Academic journal article Community College Review

Connecting Organizational Environments with the Instructional Technology Practices of Community College Faculty

Article excerpt

The ongoing integration of instructional technology within community colleges has occurred for a variety of reasons. First, community colleges have implemented technology-based models to make operations more efficient and cost-effective. Second, instructional technology has been used to expand student markets through alternative course-delivery methods that reach those students unable to attend traditional campus courses because of geographical locations and constraints related to rigid work and family schedules. Third, community college courses are regularly updated to increase enrollment capacities and in many cases to better align content with today's high-tech economy. In this study, the authors use Karl Weick's conceptualization of loosely coupled organizations to explore the organizational environments of three community colleges in relation to the emphasis each institution places on the use of instructional technologies.

Keywords: community colleges; organizational environments; instructional technologies; college faculty culture

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During the past three decades, innovations in information technology have had profound effects on U.S. colleges and universities (Al-Bataineh & Brooks, 2003; Hardy & Bower, 2004; Rhoades, 1998). For instance, information technology has streamlined administrative processes, enhanced institutional marketing platforms, expanded student enrollment options, and increased the methods of course delivery. Not surprising is that the increasing integration of technology into the educational core of colleges and universities has resulted in numerous implications for those operating within such institutions. This qualitative study explores the implications of instructional technology on the faculty profession within community college settings. In doing so, three urban community colleges have been examined to capture how instructional technology has reshaped the tasks and activities of community college faculty. Direct attention is paid to how organizational environments influence faculty member views and practices specific to the integration of information technology into instructional activities.

Relevant Literature

The Integration of Technology Into Faculty Instructional Practices

The introduction of new technologies into existing organizations reshapes existing social structures and professional relations (Barley, 1986; Bijker & Law, 1992; Nissenbaum, 2001). Community colleges are no exception. Faculty members are not always central to institutional efforts to integrate instructional technologies into the core of college practices. For example, Rhoades (1998) provides an in-depth analysis of the influences of information technology on the social structures that comprise colleges and universities. Rhoades provides evidence of the increased social status of "managerial professionals." These professionals are not faculty members but are rather specialists in areas such as learning, enrollment management, retention, and information technology (Rhoades & Spore, 2002). Rhoades argues that managerial professionals specializing in instructional technologies are gradually displacing faculty members at the educational core of institutions. In other words, faculty members are being marginalized while professionals with technological skill sets are becoming more and more valued. This study investigates how organizational environments influence how faculty members perceive instructional technology in relation to their professional activities, development, and advancement. The preceding works on managerial professionals encouraged us to view faculty members as susceptible to the changes resulting from technological advancements and not simply elite institutional members who are protected from the winds of change. According to Noble (2001), the advancement of information technology threatens the centrality of the faculty role within the academy. …

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