Task Force on Teaching and Technology

Final Report

August 1998

Task Force Members

Samuel Hirsch, Chair 

Joan Johnson 

Jody Bauer 

Steve Jones 

Richard Bojar 

Randy Libros 

R. Wayne Branch 

Brad Kinsey 

Arnold DiBlasi  

Eric Massenberg 

Doug Fenwick 

Phil Ringle 

Dot French 

Damona Sain 

Fred Goldberg 

Karen Schermerhorn 

Chuck Herbert 

Sharon Thompson 

Bill Hunsberger 

Mary Ann Yannuzzi 


In March of 1997 then President of Community College of Philadelphia, Dr. Frederick W. Capshaw, appointed a Joint Task Force on Teaching and Technology. The Task Force was given the following charge: To develop an effective structure for communication, planning, and decision-making about the use of technology across divisions.

The following are the recommendations that resulted from the Task Force's process of review and analysis of existing structures and future needs.


Before considering its charge to recommend an organizational structure to respond to needs in the areas of computer-based technology and teaching, the Task Force reflected on a vision for the College regarding this topic. As part of this vision, we agreed that faculty and staff need

    1. to acquire the means to learn more about technology
    2. to have better access to technology
    3. to be able to assess its use in instruction and other activities
    4. to be defended against unwanted intrusions of technology
    5. to work in an environment in which instructional technology would be distributed fairly and thoughtfully.

    We arrived at the conclusion that some of the cultural habits and existing institutional procedures at the College would have to change in order for these objectives to be carried out.

    The following are the recommendations:

    Recommendation I:

    The Task Force recommends that a new Standing Committee called the Technology Coordinating Committee have authority to make recommendations for College-wide guidelines, standards and plans for all aspects of computer-based technology.

    We envision the Technology Coordinating Committee (TCC) as the center of a new College-wide system for planning, communicating about, and implementing the use of computer-based technology.

    The Technology Coordinating Committee will recommend College-wide guidelines and standards to be used by areas, departments and individuals in the development of plans for specific applications of computer-based technology in their area or discipline. (These "Implementation Plans" are discussed below in Recommendation II). Guidelines and standards will address the associated costs of necessary financial resources, use of facilities, professional development, hardware acquisition, technology support, etc.

    The TCC will also develop a College-wide technology plan. Such a College-wide plan will include a set of prioritized goals for technology, and a set of steps for achieving them. Among the elements of such a plan will be recommendations for allocation of resources, made in accordance with college-wide guidelines and standards. Although a plan may include recommendations for new needs within the College, recommendations will also relate to new roles for existing departments and areas. The College-wide plan shall take into account Technology Implementation Plans developed by departments and areas.

    In the development of a comprehensive plan, the TCC should take into account pedagogical considerations (where appropriate), the availability of financial and human resources, the establishment of a mechanism for evaluating outcomes, the guidance given in existing college-wide plans, including the Strategic Plan for Academic Computing and the parts of other College-wide plans which address computer-based technology.

    When necessary, the TCC would make recommendations for the revision of the guidelines and plan it develops. Given the rapidity with which technology becomes obsolete, such a College-wide plan should be reviewed each year and a vision articulated for the following several years. This review may be the result of concerns brought to the TCC by the users of computer-based technology at the College.

    In addition, the TCC will be an advocate for the approved College-wide technology plan and will serve as the College monitoring committee for the implementation of goals in the plan.

    Further, the Technology Coordinating committee shall be a Standing Committee of the College. Half of the members of the TCC shall be appointed by the President, and half by the Federation. The membership of the TCC should include representatives of all the stakeholders in the area of technology. These include the Academic Deans, Information Systems, Computer Studies, Academic Computing, Institutional Advancement, Community and Government Relations, Finance and Planning, the Library, Student Affairs and others.

    Where appropriate, the TCC will form subcommittees to address specific major institutional initiatives or direction. Such subcommittees may include distance learning, professional development, and student computer competency.

    Implementation tasks for this recommendation:

    Recommendation II:

    The Task Force recommends that groups and individuals wishing to use computer-based technology at the College be required to develop Technology Implementation Plans.

    Another aspect of technology planning shall be that each individual, department, or area desiring to use computer-based technology shall be required to develop a Technology Implementation Plan.

    Technology Implementation Plans for academic departments in the College would be developed by members of the department. Plans for all areas within Academic Affairs (including non-credit areas) will be developed with the help of the Academic Computing Department. (See recommendation III below). Such plans would be approved by the Department faculty, the Department Head (where applicable) and Dean.

    Plans for administrative areas will be developed and coordinated with the assistance of the Information Systems Technology Users Group. (See recommendation IV below).

    Under the system, all proposals or requests for technology support, new hardware, new software, faculty development, use of facilities, or other resources will be made in the form of a Plan. Although such Plans will attempt to anticipate short-term changes in the use of technology, they will be flexible enough to allow the College to take advantage of unexpected opportunities and technological change.

    Implementation Plans will be carried out by the individuals, departments or areas which have participated in their development.

    Implementation tasks for this recommendation:

    Implementation Plans

    Recommendation III:

    The Task Force recommends that the Department of Academic Computing expand its role and increase its staff.

    The Task Force recommends that an expanded Department of Academic Computing take on additional tasks as part of a newly designed system for introducing technology to teaching and learning. In its expanded role, the Department will require additional staff. The tasks will include:

    1. Assistance in the development of Technology Implementation Plans for Academic Departments. This will include help in evaluating whether the planned use of technology
      1. is pedagogically sound
      2. is technically feasible
      3. is financially feasible
      4. is appropriate faculty development

      This evaluation would be coordinated with Information Systems, Facilities, Institutional Advancement, and other areas where expertise may exist. Expertise in pedagogical issues related to technology will be developed through the sharing of research and other information generated both inside and outside the College.

      In giving assistance to developers of plans, the Academic Computing Department would give advice that may result in the revision of plans by their authors.

      1. Coordination of appropriate topics for faculty development with Institutional Advancement, including group workshops and classes on appropriate topics, as well as individual help for faculty with specific needs.
      2. Coordination, with the Curriculum Facilitation Team, on matters related to academic computing.
      3. Learning about new and appropriate uses of technology and informing the College community, including classroom research, review of published articles on instructional technology, staff attendance at conferences, etc.
      4. Assistance in the development of College-wide plans for the use of technology based on familiarity with department initiatives. The Academic Computing Department shall assist in long-range planning by informing the Technology Coordinating Committee, the President's Cabinet, and other entities about the "grassroots" demand for technology, the types of applications to which technology is being put, etc.

      In dealing with day-to-day issues, the Department of Academic Computing will base its actions on approved, published, College-wide guidelines, including plans for staff development, software and hardware purchase, etc. In its new role, the expanded Department of Academic Computing should be a place for individual faculty members to

      a. come to discuss a plan for using computers in a discipline

      within the College

        1. receive advice about training necessary to carry out such a plan
        2. find out how others have approached pedagogical problems by using computers.

        The Department should not be a place for faculty to go to request immediate, ad hoc use of resources.

        Implementation tasks for this recommendation:

          • Development of organizational plan for the Academic Computing Department
          • Assistance with development of Technology Implementation plans
          • Publication of procedures for accessing currently available resources

        Recommendation IV:

        The Task Force recommends the establishment of an Information System's Technical Users Group.

        Just as the Academic Computing Department should expand its role in order to facilitate the development of plans for academic uses of computers, the Information Systems Technical Users Group should play a similar role in the administrative areas. The Task Force has come to the conclusion that administrative and academic uses of technology need to be coordinated in order to avoid unnecessary duplication of purchases, to minimize incompatibilities between computing systems at the College and to balance appropriately the allocation of resources to academic and administrative areas. The Information Systems Technical Users Group will:

        1. Provide coordination between academic Provide computing and administrative computing, including assistance in the development of Technology Implementation Plans for administrative purposes. This will include help in evaluating whether the planned use of technology
          1. is administratively sound
          2. is technically feasible
          3. is financially feasible
          4. is appropriate for training users.
        2. Help determine specific training needs.
        3. Provide a forum to disseminate information of new developments at the College and in the Technology field.
        4. Assist in the development of College-wide plans for the use of technology, based on familiarity with Information Systems user initiatives.
        5. Advise Information Systems of needs within their areas.
        6. Help to set priorities for distribution of work within Information Systems.
        7. Gather information on technology requirements to aid in developing equipment and software standards and associated upgrading plans.
        8. Determine the future of the mainframe systems currently in use and explore whether this software meets the College's present and future needs. Identify alternatives to the current software.

        Implementation tasks for this recommendation:

        • Assistance with development of administrative Technology Implementation Plans

        September 17, 1998