Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

The Institute for Academic Technology: The First Year in Review

Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

The Institute for Academic Technology: The First Year in Review

Article excerpt

The Institute for Academic Technology: The First Year in Review

Our experience during the past inaugural year at the Institute for Academic Technology (IAT) confirmed the premise that a daily collaboration between the higher education community and the high-tech corporate sector can be an effective catalyst for nudging the educational promise of interactive technology closer to a reality. This premise was at the heart of a discussion at EDUCOM '88 exploring the concept of a vendor-supported "national center" that would draw on academics from across the country to create integrated, tool-based software environments in key areas of the higher education curriculum. Only IBM's Academic Information Systems (ACIS) responded to the concept with direct financial support, and thus was born the IAT in 1989 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. True to the implications of its genesis, the IAT has become an academic voice and a source of academic advice within IBM and selected other companies in IBM's sphere of influence.

Both the academic community and ACIS and other companies with products in the Windows environment are responding enthusiastically to the IAT's operating philosophy that educational priorities and academic requirements should precede and guide the development of technologies with significant aspirations for use in higher education. National deficiencies in the areas of second (foreign) language acquisition and mathematics education shaped the IAT's first-year disciplinary priorities. (We expect these priorities to evolve and shift in response to our accomplishments and to advice from our national advisory board.) Disciplinary priorities provide an academic context and a practical focus for the overarching goal of putting academics--IAT Fellows and advisors--in an interdisciplinary environment in which they can influence the development of technologies to take into account and meet the needs of higher education.

To accomplish this goal, we ask selected academic leaders to:

* evaluate new software and hardware for use on IBM platforms (primarily those based on the Intel 80386 architecture);

* determine requirements for general and disciplinary software tools; and to

* help IBM and other companies understand these requirements and translate them into priorities for the development of their technologies.

In this way, the IAT puts academics out in fron of technology's accelerating pace. A corollary to being in a proactive position is the responsibility to share that vantage with others, and so the IAT shares its work with the broader academic community through a print and video publication series and a program of briefings and workshops.

These requirements and dissemination activities are evolving into a strategic network of alliances that depend on the IAT as a responsive, synthesizing hub connecting the academic community to IBM and other companies. Indeed, more than 500 academic professionals, representing more that 80 institutions, have participated in organized IAT activities since we opened our doors last November. The examples that follow will illustrate the scope of these activities and the missions that they have addressed.

ACIS Advanced Academic System

In June, IBM ACIS announced the Advanced Academic System, three different "plug-and-play" 80386-based PS/2 platforms incorporating a variety of integrated (pre-loaded) Windows applications useful to academic and including the developer's version of ToolBook. The IAT was there at the creation of the Advanced Academic System and enabled academics from across the nation to contribute to the conceptualization, the definition, and the evaluation of this significant first step by IBM to offer a system tailored specifically for higher education professionals.

For example, the IAT's Foreign Language Advisory Group, chaired by IAT Fellow James S. …

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