This article was published in CAUSE/EFFECT journal, Volume 22 Number 1 1999. The copyright is shared by EDUCAUSE and the author. See for additional copyright information.

University of North Carolina President Molly Broad, in an interview with CAUSE/EFFECT (which appears in this issue), stated her belief that the most significant strategic issue in the future of higher education is the role that information technology and advanced networking will play: "It is so pervasive in everything that we do, and it is transforming...the academy. It can contribute to making all aspects of the university better, from intellectual productivity to economic efficiency." As higher education leaders increasingly embrace these kinds of expectations for information technology (IT), especially campus and intercampus networking technologies, IT leaders are under greater pressure--and face more difficult challenges--than ever before in doing their part to get from promise to reality.

Each year at this time, a new volume of CAUSE/EFFECT is launched with a summary of the issues and challenges facing campus IT professionals as they work with their institutional leaders to develop strategies and plan for IT investments and implementations to best serve their missions. These issues arise from deliberations of the EDUCAUSE Current Issues Committee as well as from sessions at the association's annual conference, where last year hundreds of colleagues met to discuss emerging and ongoing challenges and how best to meet them. It's not surprising that one of the top issues continues to be the challenges and opportunities that arise in advancing the infrastructure and capacity so necessary for the envisioned "networked future." Many of the other issues articulated in the article that begins on page 6 are related to, even arise from, this key issue--managing a distributed IT environment; authentication, authorization, and access management challenges; distance and distributed learning challenges; intellectual property issues in a networked environment; year 2000 continuity planning challenges on a networked campus; and many others. We encourage you to contribute articles for CAUSE/EFFECT publication that share your experiences, solutions, and advice related to these issues in the coming year.

The key to preparing for an advanced networked future is laying a solid foundation today. While author Thomas Moberg's article on campus network strategies emanates from a small college perspective, his excellent observations about planning, managing, funding, and supporting the "ideal" network are equally applicable to larger institutions.

The integration of communications and networking technologies into teaching and learning has prompted the academic community to reevaluate what constitutes quality instructional interaction, especially in distance education. Technology may facilitate new kinds of interactions, but what should be the philosophical foundation for educational programming for distance learners? Author Lawrence Ragan describes a faculty initiative at Penn State that culminated in the articulation of An Emerging Set of Guiding Principles and Practices for the Design and Development of Distance Education. This article is important reading for information technologists who support faculty members in developing distributed learning courses, as understanding the fundamentals of good teaching is critical to such efforts.

The challenges that arise in the area of intellectual property in a networked environment are legion. Casey Lide, in his article about the Digital Millennium Copyright Act signed into U.S. law last October, says the DMCA "represents the most dramatic change to copyright law in a generation." But what are the implications of this law for colleges and universities? Lide summarizes the sections of the Act that are most relevant to higher education, and suggests actions campuses should consider taking in response to the Act.

Finally, two articles in this issue epitomize the sharing of professional experience and wisdom. Jack McCredie's "Dogs Are More Fun than Computers" offers seven thoughtful observations about IT in higher education from a colleague who has long been known for his professional excellence and who was formally recognized for this last year as recipient of the CAUSE ELITE Award. Don't miss McCredie's article, as well as Gregory Jackson's "'Follow the Money' and Other Unsolicited Advice for CIOs," a highly entertaining, tell-it-like-it-is summary of the unique challenges facing IT leaders in higher education. You'll chuckle, you'll moan, and you'll feel better for knowing you're not alone.

Julia A. Rudy, Editor the table of contents