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Colleges at the Crossroads

Taking Sides on Contested Issues

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Edited By Joseph L. DeVitis and Pietro A. Sasso

Focusing on crucial issues in higher education, this book challenges readers to go beyond taken-for-granted assumptions about America’s colleges and universities and instead critically examine important questions facing them in today’s troubled world. Each chapter presents divergent perspectives, that is, "pro" and "con" views, in the hope of stimulating reasoned dialogue among students, faculty, administrators, and the public at large. Readers will explore how internal factors in the academic community often interact with external social, economic, and political influences to produce conflictual results. They will see that academe is hardly value-neutral and inevitably political. This book urges them to transcend strident political persuasion and instead engage in the careful analysis needed to make colleges better.

The text provides in-depth appraisal of key topics of controversy: the purposes of higher education, liberal education, academic freedom, political correctness, tenure, shared governance, faculty workload, admissions tests, student learning, Greek life, the worth of college, equity and social justice, athletics, student entitlement, technology and distance instruction, and college amenities. The book will appeal to students, faculty, staff, and all those interested in the future of higher education. It is especially useful for courses in contemporary issues in higher education, foundations of higher education, higher education and society, college student development, and the organization and administration of higher education.

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Part Ten: Can Technology and Distance Instruction Save Higher Education?

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← 280 | 281 →

Part Ten:  Can Technology and Distance Instruction Save Higher Education?

In “Instructional Technology as Revolutionary Savior of Higher Education Classrooms: An Analysis of Scope, Ethics, and Values,” David S. Knowlton defines “instructional technology” as the “integration of media into a systematic teaching and learning process.” Though granting that it alone will not save higher education, he suggests that online education, through instructional technology, can reinforce student identity and reduce the power differential between instructor and student through knowledge-based authority. He also bemoans the questionable assumption of some administrators that distance education cannot increase profit margins and faculty productivity. Knowlton concludes that instructional technology, as part of sound pedagogy and appropriate use of media, can indeed “revolutionize” postsecondary education.

In “Will Technology and Distance Instruction Save Higher Education?” Paul Gordon Brown contends that colleges and universities can be marginally enriched by the use of technology. He discusses various pedagogical methods, how distance education provides greater access for adult learners, and how technology can facilitate competency-based instruction. At the same time, he claims that for-profit institutions have eroded public trust in online learning. While arguing that technology offers no panaceas, he agrees that it should be considered as part of any number of teaching strategies. Finally, Brown affirms that technology has afforded a more flexible approach to a system that has been relatively impervious to competition, market demands, and consumer behavior. ← 281 | 282 →

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