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Technology everywhere: A campus agenda for educating and managing workers in the digital age

Hawkins, Brian L., Rudy, Julia A., & Wallace, William A., Jr. (Eds.). (2002). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
List Price $17.00, 146 Pages

Review by Saundra Gargano
Business Manager
Rochester Business Institute - Rochester, NY

Technology Everywhere is Volume 6 in the Educause Leadership Strategies series.  It is comprised of chapters written by a list of 14 contributing authors and edited by Brian L. Hawkins, Julia A. Rudy and William H. Wallace, Jr.  Each author brings a strong list of credentials and expertise in his/her respective field of technology, higher education and human resources.

Elements of Chapter 1 include the various definitions of information technology (IT) workers, employee supply and demand, and suggestions for training these staff members.  As our grasp of the newest technologies increase, the need for continual retraining is constantly at the forefront. This chapter stresses that educators need to rethink the delivery systems for training learners in the emergence of new technology.

The authors made several recommendations for improving the IT picture on campuses.  These suggestions include how to improve the ratio of students to staff in IT organizations and retaining the current supply of IT professors.  For example, a shortage of IT educators will further tip the scales of the already unbalanced supply and demand equation.  Also discussed in this section are the causes and possible solutions for improving the shortage of underrepresented populations within the IT workforce.

Chapter 2 gives a strong case for following the role models of other industrialized nations to create IT skill standards.  Leveraging the partnership between business and education is one way to create a viable set of skill standards.  Consistent skills standards, closely aligned with the continually changing needs of employers, will help close the gap between the educational supply and demand of IT workers. 

The next section focused on the need to broaden the definition of IT education.  The author quotes the National Research Council’s definition of fluency with information technology (or FITness) as “a process of lifelong learning in which individuals continually apply what they know to adapt to change and acquire more knowledge to be more effective at applying information technology to their work and personal lives” (p. 41).  This topic is discussed in detail.  Concluding this section is a recommendation that project-based learning be used to integrate FITness into the college curriculum. 

Outlined in Chapter 4 are the changes necessary for colleges to succeed in an IT-dominant world.  A strong and proactive partnership between human resource leaders and information technology leaders on campus is cited as critical to a college’s success.   Two case studies, from the University of California system and Mount Holyoke College, are used as models for the integrated changes necessary in higher education.

Chapter 5 recommends that the best practices from both higher education and industry combine to create an employer of choice workplace.  External professional resources can be an essential part of hiring and retaining the best IT workers.  Consultants, recruiting firms and survey data from human resource and technology experts can be strong supplemental tools used in addition to in-house resources.  This section also explains how several different colleges created technical development training paths for current and aspiring IT professionals.

Integrating technology into the college curriculum is the focus of the next chapter.  This discussion includes the importance and differences between IT fluency (FITness) and IT literacy.  Application of these two domains is critical within the higher education curriculum.  As an example, the authors include a list of ten key elements, and a case study from George Mason University, illustrating the many ways to help incorporate technology across the curriculum. 

This partnership theme continues through to the book’s final chapter.  A strong working partnership between colleges and industry is becoming critical.  The authors of this chapter cite the need for this partnership in order to provide a pipeline of qualified IT leaders for college campuses.  This chapter concludes with ways to define future leadership roles and strategies for effective leadership as well as ways to develop this talent pipeline.

Overall, this book is a strong resource that analyzes the current situation of information technology workers within college communities.  The specific challenges that each of us face in higher education are clearly defined and discussed.  Various strategies for tackling these issues, along with actual case studies, create a portfolio of action steps to upon which to build.  Administrators in higher education and technology should find this volume both practical and insightful.

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