One of the first presentations I attended at the 2006 EDUCAUSE Conference in Dallas was "Transitioning Academic Technologies from Experimentation to Institutional Support." Presented by staff from Duke University, the presentation described how the Duke iPod First-Year Experience evolved into the Duke Digital Initiative.
UIT-AT is involved in a number of pilots and experimentation around technologies such as eportfolio, classroom response systems, podcasting, blogs and wikis, so the words "assessment-driven model" in the presentation abstract really jumped out at me. A PDF of their PowerPoint slides is available at http://www.educause.edu/upload/presentations/E06/SESS010/e06_dukeCIT.pdf
What did I learn?
Sometimes there are unanticipated consequences -
The Duke 2004 iPod project made iPods widely available to faculty and students to see what academic uses might evolve. Microphones were also made available for the iPods. However this quick adoption model drove an increased demand for "innovations around producing, acquiring, storing and using digital content."
For the 2005-06 year, the focus for experimentation for the Duke staff shifted to the more formalized Duke Digital Initiative:
Instead of using a "special project" model this shift would support innovation through a three-phase model of innovation supported by collaboration and over a longer period of time.
The three phases are the following:
Phase 1 Experimentation: This is the pilot project phase where new technologies are introduces. An example was the iPods for all entering freshmen with open, unstructured experimentation to see what would emerge.
Phase 2 Extension and Transition: At this point the development of an infrastructure and support models would be explored for technologies that looked promising from Phase 1. For example, the iPods would be made available on a course by course use and go through a selctive proposal process.
Phase 3 Standard Support and Integration: Finally a service or technology would be widely supported if its use looked valuable. At this point iPods are being made available for any course with established use from previous years and the purchase price for students is also subsidized.
Each phase also supports a transition in evaluation focus:
Phase 1: Documenting innovative technology uses; detecting unanticipated outcomes; measuring short-term impact.
Phase 2: Idenitfying and documenting stable use patterns; defining usecases for institutional support
Phase 3: Confirming sustainability of support models; measuring long-term impact
This phased in model helped eliminate the "heroic efforts, special projects" model to one that supports on-going job roles and co-management.
For lessons learned on project support, the Duke staff offered the following:
*Successful transitions require intense collaboration, for long periods of time.
*The newer the technology, the shorter the planning cycle.
*Multi-tasking on planning is a way of life.
The lessons learned on evaluation include:
*Evaluation timelines should be extended.
*Evaluation should shape planning at each phase.
*Shifting goals and evaluation strategies are OK.
For more information:
Duke Digital Initiative
Lectopia, Podcasting and OIT support for digital media tools
Profiles of faculty projects:
Descriptions of courses using digital technologies, by semesters:
Evaluation of iPod project (2004-05) and Duke Digital Initiative (2005-06)