You might wonder why higher education institutions don’t integrate new media and interactive technologies into instruction more extensively. It turns out, according to a new report by not-for-profit consultant Ithaka S+R, that college professors are like the rest of us: They’re busy with ongoing responsibilities (like teaching, research, and working on publications) and don’t have time to mess around with new tech without a darn good reason.
The report, Technology-Enhanced Education at Public Flagship Universities: Opportunities and Challenges, is based on interviews with 214 administrators and department chairs at 10 of the 17 large schools in the Public Flagships Network consortium.
“In an environment featuring more technology-enhanced education, faculty members are constantly trying to balance their responsibilities to undergraduate teaching with requirements from their institutions that they remain active in research,” said the report. “Time is the greatest barrier preventing faculty from experimenting more with technological enhancements to their teaching.”
However, the report also noted, dangling a carrot can work wonders in encouraging faculty to use technology tools in their instruction. For instance, at campuses where academic departments receive at least a portion of fees for online courses, instructors put more time and effort into developing such courses.
The report recommended that institutions “more clearly communicate to students and faculty the value of technology-enhanced education” and provide more tangible incentives to faculty to explore technology for classroom teaching. That includes collaborating with colleagues on their own campus as well as at other schools—something that faculty are typically reluctant to do, the report said.