Appendix 15: What We Mean by Technology

The University recognizes that the term technology encompasses a great deal more than computers, but in this document the primary interest is with electronic technology like computer hardware and software, including networking and server hardware and software. (See Appendix 8: Microcomputer Standard for Faculty Office Applications Established by MnSCU for one set of specific examples of the kinds of technology addressed by this TLTR document.)

In the field of instruction and pedagogy, distinctions are made among kinds of electronic instructional media. In general the term instructional media is assumed to include such visual tools as television, film, slides and slide projectors, and video and video projectors. The term electronic learning media is assumed to include locally run tools like CD ROMs and computer tutorials as well as Internet-delivered tools like World-Wide Web pages, email, and listservs, newsgroups, and electronic bulletin boards. Data sets can be stored locally or accessed via the Internet, but they also are a large part of the work in some disciplines, even for undergraduates.

Much historical and analytical exploration has been done of the implications of technology in human life, cognition, culture and knowledge. To Green, for example, information and communication technology in education "is an enabling resource intended to supplement, enhance, and extend the learning experience. The potential of technology to provide new tools and information resources has long ... fueled institutional investments and individual experimentation; the potential and the possibilities remain as appropriate and attainable goals." (p. 28)

Batson and Bass describe the impact of electronic technology on education in this way:

With the use of information and communication technology, students experience more directly the process of how knowledge is discovered, created, shared, and shaped in their fields. Students learn that the journey to discover knowledge is as important as the knowledge itself. This paradigm shift happens not only for the students but the instructors as well. New forms of communications, publications, and collaboration and the way data are accessed, represented, and manipulated are changing the way knowledge is conceived, challenged, justified, and disseminated in most disciplines. The whole enterprise of teaching and learning becomes more egalitarian with instructors being facilitators rather than center and originator of all course activities.

A general plan like this TLTR document cannot address every single technological situation that might arise at St. Cloud State University. In particular we do not adequately address highly specialized, discipline-specific installations that require special efforts, both within the sponsoring department and the University. (Some definitions and some ideas about funding these specialized sites are included in Appendix 2: Special-needs Labs and Funding.) Furthermore, we know that our limitation of technology to communications and information electronic technologies is convenient rather than conceptually coherent. We recognize that these technologies take their place in the history and current state of culture with other technologies.