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Incentive Programs to Support the Use of Instructional Technology by Faculty at a Major Research University and a Leading Liberal Arts College


Whether from a major research university or a leading liberal arts college, faculty need incentives and support in order to reconsider their teaching in light of time-erasing and location-shifting information and communications technologies. This presentation looks at two entirely different institutions and the programmatic efforts at each which helped create the incentives and support that faculty need to incorporate the new technology into their thinking and their teaching. Are the approaches selected appropriate for all faculty everywhere or are they specific to local circumstances? The presenters will describe and analyze support for the use of instructional technology at each campus.

Faculty Incentives and Support at Connecticut College

Connie Vinita Dowell,
Dean of Information Services
Connecticut College
New London, CT


Like most colleges, Connecticut College aspires to have faculty use technology in appropriate ways to advance the curriculum and create a dynamic learning environment for our students. However, any experienced user will attest that technology is far from mature, and the pace of change is rapid and unsettling, requiring that individuals continually retrain. Ideally, all faculty members should be able to function independently, with occasional assistance from colleagues and the College's technical staff. Most faculty members across the nation are not, however, well-prepared to make effective use of technology, and it is incumbent on colleges to help them become more proficient.

For the past several years, newly-hired, tenure-track faculty have been provided with computers which allow them to develop uses of technology in their classes; however, many faculty who came to Connecticut College before the implementation of that policy have computer hardware and knowledge of technology that restrict them to using their computer simply for word processing and electronic mail. Many faculty could not take advantage of multimedia applications including many resources available through our state-of-the-art campus network.

Recognizing these challenges, Connecticut College established two programs to support this need. The first was designed to provide the necessary equipment and the second offers the professional staff the technical expertise to support their efforts.

Connecticut College: Background

Founded in 1911, Connecticut College is a private, coeducational liberal arts college. There are 1600 undergraduates and 147 full-time faculty members. Over 850 courses are offered in 27 academic departments. In June 1995, all technology areas of the college, including academic and administrative computing, telecommunications, libraries, and language laboratories, were united under the supervision of a Dean of Information Services.

The college's academic strategic plan calls for the increased use of advanced applications of technology in a growing number of courses.

Part One: Tempel Equipment Grants Program

In early 1994, the College received a $100,000 grant from an alumna to support the integration of technology into the curriculum. Small grants were awarded to 15 faculty members to purchase computers, specialized software, and portable projection systems.

As a means of advancing the use of technology in the classroom, an internal grant award program was established to which faculty members applied for new computer equipment. We targeted the faculty who were using computers, but who are not experienced users at a high level and whose current computer systems limit their ability to learn about the use of new technologies. In addition to providing new equipment, the program included several workshops, support for curricular developments, and evaluation of the effectiveness of the curricular developments.

Announcement of the program and workshops

A letter was sent to each faculty member that described the program and invited faculty to attend a two-day training session on using technology in the curriculum. Technology support staff and technologically sophisticated faculty conducted the seminars and assisted the faculty in every step of the way. An outline of the program of the workshops is as follows:

Proposal submission

Within two weeks after the training session, any faculty members who attended the workshops could apply for a computer to be utilized in developing the use of technology in their courses. Faculty members applying for a computer wrote a narrative describing what course or courses they would use technology in, how they would use technology, and how the use of technology would improve student learning, and estimated how many students would be impacted in each course. They gave specific examples such as how many assignments would be affected and how much of the time in a particular course students would use technology.

Proposal review

The proposals were reviewed by a panel consisting of the Provost and Dean of the Faculty and three faculty members. Proposals were judged on the interest level of the faculty member, the probability that the faculty member would complete the requirements of the program, and the number of students potentially impacted.

Awarding of computers

Fifteen awards were made. Faculty selected from one of four system configurations: an Apple Macintosh notebook, an Apple Power Macintosh desktop, an IBM notebook, or an IBM desktop. Each computer came with word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, network, and utility software installed. An additional $500.00 was set aside for each faculty member to buy courseware for use on the computer and, if appropriate, for copies to be installed on the campus Courseware Server for access by their students. Each faculty member who received an award attended an additional two-hour workshop designed to give the faculty training on their new system. Each faculty member's computer was assembled, software installed, and it was configured for and connected to the campus network.

Further support for course development

In addition to providing faculty with their own computer, two overhead projection systems were purchased for classroom use (there were only two classrooms set up with computer projection at that time).


  1. March 1995
    Faculty workshops
  2. 1995-96 academic year
    Each faculty member implemented their plan of action for incorporating technology in the curriculum.
  3. May 1996
    Faculty demonstrated their use of technology at the Academic Computing Open House and submitted a brief written report describing their results.
  4. June 1996
    Each project was evaluated by the Selection committee for completion of the goals outlined in their original proposal. If the project had not been completed successfully, the computers returned to a pool to be redistributed during another round of competition.

Part Two: The Information Fellows Program

The second program, a pioneering fellowship program, provides highly-skilled information technologists who will help faculty infuse technology into the curriculum. The fellows will join the faculty in collaborative projects to explore exciting new possibilities for the use of technology in teaching and research. And, after their two-year stint at Connecticut College, they will go on to other institutions to lead their efforts in technological development.

Another goal of the program is to create a model through which other colleges and universities can develop the resources needed to support technology more effectively. Currently most colleges rely on computing staff for the installation of computer equipment, computer programming, and on librarians for access to information. New information technology, however, so closely integrates the technology itself (e.g. computer hardware, software, and networks) with the content information that it requires both librarians and computer personnel to develop new skills. That is, it calls on librarians to become more familiar with the underlying technology and on computing staff to become more involved in information content.

Project Description

Connecticut College created a unique program which offers fellowships, to recent recipients of master's degrees in computer science or library science. These fellowships involve two-year joint appointments in the computer center and the college library, and each fellow will have mentors from both areas. Each fellowship carries a stipend of $32,000 for each year and special benefits for the fellow.

Early this year, a press release and several advertisements were placed in professional journals and on the WWW to announce the creation of the Information Fellows Program at Connecticut College. Professionals nationwide were able to access information on the fellowship program via its home page at on the WWW. Applicants to the Information Fellows Program are selected by a search committee consisting of two faculty members, two information services staff, a senior administrator, and the Dean of Information Services.

The first Information Fellow, Andrew White, began work on September 11, 1996. A campus-wide call was sent in early October to all faculty members for proposals of projects. Proposals are judged on the following criteria: the interest level of the faculty member, the number of students potentially impacted, and the number of new and revised courses to be developed by the faculty member.

Each fellow will also be supported to attend two conferences a year; probably one library conference and one computer conference. Each fellow is encouraged to present a paper on a specific project to draw attention to the program's information technology innovations and the benefits of the fellowship program.

Current Technology Projects

The Information Fellows will work on a variety of projects that will give them optimal career experience and that will significantly advance the use of technology in teaching and research at Connecticut College. In most of these projects they collaborate with faculty, staff, and students. Some of the projects that Andrew White is currently working on are:

Program Assessment

To document the widespread effects of the Information Fellows Program and assess its impact, the fellowship recipients will submit a brief report within six months following the two-year fellowship, describing how their independent projects were carried out, explaining the impact of the fellowship on his/her professional life and any ways in which the fellow has shared his/her new knowledge with the wider community. Fellows will be sent brief guidelines for writing the report and will also be asked to evaluate the program and offer suggestions for its improvement.

Faculty will also complete written evaluations which cover all phases of their collaborative projects and suggest ideas for improvement. Particular attention will be given to ways in which the fellowship program has affected the integration of support technology in regular operations at the College and to the number of new and revised courses that employ technology.

The SEDE Mini-Grant Program at Johns Hopkins University

by Todd D. Kelley,
Librarian for Information Technology Initiatives
Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, Maryland


The ways that the digital system for teaching and scholarly communication unfolds, takes shape, and is used are extremely important both for teachers, learners, and scholars today and for future generations who will use systems built on top of what we create today. On campus, the views and participation of scholars, teachers, administrators, librarians, and information technologists are all needed to create and keep vital a truly effective digital system. The components of the digital system are highly interdependent, and a team effort is often required for success.

The prevailing culture of many higher education institutions runs counter to the need for team effort described above. At the same time, the reward system for faculty, especially at research institutions, ignores faculty involvement in digital projects or digital resource development.

At the Johns Hopkins University, both of these cultural trends are evident.


Hopkins is the oldest research university in the U.S. It was founded in 1876 on the German model. It follows a highly decentralized institutional model. Administrative overhead is lean both organizationally and financially. Each school has a great deal of autonomy to pursue its own programs and strategies. The University is one of the smallest research I universities in the country, but has consistently attracted more research support by far than any other university in the U.S. The autonomy of each school is viewed as a strength in attracting these funds.

Hopkins uses a resource-centered budgeting (RCB) model. In this model, schools or other resource generating units are in large measure responsible both for generating their revenue and for making decisions about expenditures. Within the schools and departments, faculty have a great deal of latitude to work as independent agents. Hopkins operates as what Weick (1976) calls a loosely coupled system. Traditionally, university-wide activities and efforts are rare.

Against this backdrop, this report describes a successful university-wide effort which has produced results that are unusual for an institution with limited experience in and commitment to working as a single body.

Origins of Institutional Support for Our Current Efforts

Almost four years ago, then President William Richardson created and convened a university-wide committee called the Committee for the 21st Century. The Committee was chaired by then Professor William Brody, who has subsequently become the new President of the Johns Hopkins University. This committee was charged with taking a broad look at current and future trends in higher education and recommending ways that Hopkins could remain and even grow as a vital, influential, institution regionally, nationally, and internationally.

Economic, demographic, and cultural forecasts and changes created concern that the university was not fully prepared to continue with its historical success into the next century. The cold war was over and federal research funding and overhead rates were going down. Traditional pools of graduate students were drying up. New disciplines were being created and old ones were dying. Part-time students were becoming a majority of the students taught. And in large measure, digital technology was passing the university by. There were also concerns about competitiveness with peer institutions. These were just a few of the factors that appeared to influence the President, the trustees, and other university leaders to initiate this broad and long-term planning effort.

The Committee determined the most strategic questions and issues to be addressed and selected subcommittees to work on each issue. Subcommittees were made up of faculty, administrators, and staff. The subcommittees were to explore the specific challenges that Johns Hopkins would face in a given area: interdivisional collaboration, international dimensions, information resources and technologies, faculty issues, diversity, the undergraduate program, nontraditional education and distance learning, and health and biomedical programs. Each subcommittee was to work on the issue for a year and report back to the parent committee.

The final report and recommendations of the Committee for the 21st Century were based upon the work of the subcommittees. Two themes permeated the work and interactions of the subcommittees. One theme that was made explicit in the report was that, in order to be competitive and remain efficient, a more unified approach to information technology was required. The other theme came from the interaction of subcommittee participants. Many found it helpful to learn about the work of colleagues and to share ideas. This need was so strong that a few of us on the subcommittee on nontraditional education decided to continue meeting regularly after our formal work was finished. After a few months of meeting, knowledge about our meetings got back to the Provost, and he decided to formalize our existence. He officially created us as the Subcommittee on Electronic and Distance Education or SEDE. We expanded our group to include a representative from each school and each major support unit, and we met regularly for breakfast once a month for two or three hours. The group included faculty, administrators, and senior staff. Minutes of these meetings are available.

The work of the C21 committee and the subcommittees had helped produce a new awareness of the power and productive nature of teamwork, even though we had just barely begun to share ideas and think about what was needed. Other than sharing our own needs, plans, and activities, we had little power or sense of what we could actually DO to make a difference. Our sense of mission could be discerned through our discussions but we had no actual plan. We focused on our use of information technology to improve teaching effectiveness for current programs. We believed that sharing these experiences could lay the groundwork for future efforts that moved beyond our local teaching efforts. We imagined that students world-wide could benefit from the faculty and resources of Hopkins without necessarily coming to Baltimore.

The "Evil" Pilot Project

One of the projects that was shared and discussed within the SEDE was a project that came to be known as the "Evil" pilot project. The project was a collaborative effort between the Milton S. Eisenhower Library, Professor Nancy Norris, a member of the teaching faculty in the Masters of Liberal Arts program, of the School of Continuing Studies, who taught the course "Evil from Greek Tragedies to Gothic Tales", and a faculty member and three students in the capstone course for the Master's (M.S.) in Technology program also in the School of Continuing Studies.

The project started with conversations between staff of the School of Continuing Studies and the MSE Library about the feasibility of making reserve readings available electronically so that students taking classes at extended campus sites could have access to readings from their homes and places of work. In conducting an analysis of various scenarios that might follow from this idea, this writer believed that any such efforts could only be successful if they were placed in a broader context of electronic instructional resources and services for students. So, instead of creating an electronic reserve site for a course or two, we decided to create an Electronic Instruction Site (EIS) that would include a wide array of resources and services.

We identified a member of the faculty who was willing to participate, but who had very little experience with digital technology. We felt that if our effort was successful with a technological novice, then we could expect a high degree of success with faculty in general. Professor Norris was extremely cooperative, and soon we had created a site that included her course material, a discussion list for the class, full-text reserve readings, connections to other relevant material, an easy e-mail connection directly to Professor Norris, and a space for student work. (The course included a large writing component.) As part of their capstone class experience, three students from the Master's in) technology program, worked to determine the level of experience students in the "Evil" course had with using computers and the World Wide Web. They prepared instructional material and met with students to answer their questions about using the resources and services found at Electronic Instruction Site.

The use of the site by students in the course was quite high and based upon a questionnaire administered to the students in the course, the Electronic Instruction Site appeared to have an overall positive impact on class communication and learning. When these results were shared with the SEDE, members of the SEDE wondered if there could be a way to encourage other faculty to adopt similar approaches with their classes. While everyone agreed that many faculty would want to take advantage of the technology to increase communication and learning for their classes, they did not think that most faculty would be able to construct an Electronic Instruction Site on their own or provide assistance to students who might be novices in using the technology. At the same time, support units that could provide assistance were not necessarily able to determine who might want to participate, and these units could not necessarily provide such assistance without additional resources. We needed both a way to identify interested faculty as well as the resources to support them.

The "SEDE Mini-Grant Program"

While discussing this challenge at a conference, several members of the SEDE wondered if engaging the competitive spirit of Hopkins faculty might be one way to move ahead. Faculty who wanted to use technology could compete for the funds they needed to support the construction of their sites. Faculty would have to work with service providers to identify the human resources they needed as well as to estimate costs. They could use the funds they received to pay the service providers for the services that were agreed upon. We thought these negotiations could spark discussions and working relationships between faculty and service providers on campus, while also giving service providers some additional support they needed in order to provide these new services. When we explained our plan to the entire SEDE, it was received enthusiastically. The only question that remained was where the funds might come from. The Chair of the SEDE approached the Provost with our plan, and he was able to find and earmark $40,000 for our effort. This was an uncharacteristic action from the central administration, but the Chair was very persuasive, and our request was clearly in line with the thrust of the recommendations made by the C21 Committee. We had funds to administer and the next challenge was to figure out a way to administer the funds fairly and to leverage them for the greatest possible benefit.

Criteria for the Mini-Grants

A subgroup of six SEDE members put together a list of weighted criteria for judging mini-grant proposals we hoped to receive when we put out a call for requests. We asked for an initial one-page letter describing the proposed projects. We received over 40 letters. Since we had only $40,000, we made an initial cut from these letters and asked about 15 faculty to submit full requests. We asked them to keep their requests to two-three pages and also asked them to address the criteria directly in their requests. We discussed each full proposal and ranked them using the criteria. Our funding enabled us to award 11 mini-grants. We asked the grant recipients to prepare reports clear to each applicant that we expected a report of their projects and to try and complete their projects by the summer of 1996. We made it clear to all applicants that we were supportive of their proposals, but limited funds made it impossible to support all requests at the current time.

The Projects

The projects themselves were surprisingly varied and most were different from the original "Evil" project which had sparked the entire process. The SEDE felt the diversity of projects and approaches was a positive development, although some support staff were concerned about the potential difficulty in supporting such a diverse group of projects. However, since each project had some financial support that could help pay for additional support resources, it was easier for support staff to accept this wide array of projects.

We classified the projects into three groups: 1)extended classroom; 2)stand alone skills development and; 3)virtual resources. The extended classroom projects were most like the original "Evil" project in that they provided course information, lecture notes, sample exams, and relevant Web links. Stand-alone skills development projects were designed to assist students in exploring a concept in depth, practicing skills, and reviewing information. Virtual resources projects provided for the creation of digital resources that were broad enough in scope and depth to be used across a range of classes and situations where background material or specific information was required.

Sharing the Projects with the Hopkins Community

While the project faculty were asked to submit reports at the conclusion of the project, the Chair of the SEDE suggested there might be more effective ways to share the projects. She suggested that we have a university-wide symposium, so that the mini-grant recipients could share their projects with administrators, faculty colleagues, staff, and students. This idea was approved, and a symposium was held on October 24th, 1996. It consisted of four components:
  1. twenty-seven hands-on electronic poster sessions, running for two one- hour periods during the day, and this included the 11 mini-grant projects as well as 16 other teaching with technology projects from across the university that were identified and invited to participate.
  2. talks by the President and Provost of Hopkins.
  3. a keynote address by Kenneth C. Green.
  4. a fifteen minute talk by each of the mini-grant recipients who explaining the rationale behind their projects, the challenges they encountered, and the benefits accrued or what they had learned from it.
The SEDE hoped that at least 150 people would attend this event; however, attendance topped 225 and all expectations were exceeded.

Some Conclusions

Moving Beyond the Initial Mini-Grants

Based upon the success of the original round of mini-grants, the Provost has announced a second round of mini-grants. In addition, the symposium was such a success that it is now being considered as an annual event. However, beyond these obvious signs of institutional commitment to change, what kinds of lasting change have actually taken place, and what kinds of challenges still exist?

The first, and arguably most important changes, are the new cross-institutional working relationships that have come about through the formal mechanism of the SEDE and through the communication and cooperation required for the success of the mini-grant projects. In addition, institutional support has clearly been provided and is continuing, thus paving the way for a sustainable long-term effort. But while instruction has certainly been enhanced, it is difficult to say with certainty just how much it has been enhanced and to what degree these enhancements will be sustained over time. The mini-grant program is an appropriate way to jump start a new level of involvement with instructional technology, but it will not provide support for a more comprehensive level of participation that is required for meaningful change. The support that is now provided on a piecemeal basis with special funding needs to be provided on an institution-wide basis through organizational collaboration and realignments, strong leadership, and enhanced funding and human resources. In addition, broad changes will still be difficult to implement, because the traditional reward system (criteria for tenure) does not take these efforts into account. Faculty who participated in these mini-grant projects noted that the significant time required was not accounted for through release from other responsibilities, but were added to an already demanding schedule of research and teaching.

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